Part III: The Story of Pastor Thomas Allen
By Dr. Bill Miller
This is the third in a series about the special Ministers who were called the “Black Regiment” during the Revolutionary War. They thundered from their pulpits that LIBERTY is a God-endowed “unalienable” right that mankind is entitled to pursue, enjoy, and protect. Did the Bible not plainly say that wherever the Spirit of God is present, there is FREEDOM (2 Corinthians 3:17)? To 18th century America, the mostly Christian population had briefly tasted FREEDOM and they didn’t want to lose it. Many of their pastors led the way and rallied their congregations to defend and protect this valuable gift that God has made available to all mankind but so few have taken up.
The British military officers were the ones who first called them the “Black Regiment” referring to the vestments they wore mostly for their church services. But they didn’t just preach on Sundays about resisting English oppression. Indeed, many of these special Pastors were directly involved in related political and military activities including the development of local militias of their congregants that helped defeat the strongest military power in the world of their day.
This month’s article considers the heroics of “The Fighting Parson,” Thomas Allen, Pastor of the Pittsfield Massachusetts Congregational Church for 46 years starting March 5, 1764, at the age of 21. His personal accomplishments are too numerous to cover in this limited space but it’s an honor to mention some of the most famous that so few of us know about because we don’t teach these things anymore.
When the Revolutionary War began in the Spring of 1775, the key city of Boston was occupied by the British. General Washington wanted to take it over but lacked artillery and had been unsuccessful in his early attempts. Pastor Allen had advised the military all along to consider the British-held forts of Ticonderoga and Crown Point in upstate New York because they were lightly defended and full of back up artillery that could be useful to the Continental Army. Finally, in December 1775 American leadership heeded his advice and captured the two forts so that Pastor Allen could help organize the move of the captured cannon on forty-two oxen-pulled sleds over a snow-covered 300 miles in 56 days. When the British saw that General Washington had deployed all that artillery, they decided to surrender the city and on March 17, 1776, some 11,000 British soldiers and loyalists sailed out of Boston harbor in a fleet of 120 ships. It was a major victory for the Patriots, a huge embarrassment to the British.
On another occasion in August 1777, Pastor Allen led his Berkshire Militia to join forces with General John Stark against a Hessian contingent near Bennington, Vermont. The Pastor marched out to the battlefield that day wearing his black robe and stood on the stump of a fallen tree in front of the American lines to offer the enemy an opportunity to surrender. Their answer was a volley of musket fire that hit all around the Pastor, riddled the stump he was standing on, and shot a hole through his hat. In the final charge on the enemy’s breastworks, Pastor Allen and his Berkshire Militia were first to breach the enemy lines which produced the victory.
After the battle Pastor Allen spent that night and the entire next day ministering to the wounded and dying. The next day Saturday, August 18 with almost no sleep for several days, the Fighting Parson saddled up his horse and rode 30 miles back to Pittsfield to preach at his church the next day. And this is just the tip of the iceberg of accomplishments attributed to this truly extraordinary preacher.
Submitted by Dr. Bill Miller, Granbury, Texas. Dr. Bill is the founder of Make A Way Ministries, a nationally recognized credit and financial counseling ministry. He has written hundreds of articles and more than 40 books over the past thirty-plus years, eleven of which are presently available on Amazon. In late 2018, Dr. Miller published an important book on the subject of national border integrity called The Truth about Open Borders explaining from Scripture God’s views on borders. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 817-533-9499.