In the earliest days of the Civil War, as volunteers were enlisting by the thousands, it was quite common for all of the soldiers in a given regiment to come from the same locale. Although the vast majority of these volunteers had no military background, lower-ranking officers might well be chosen from within the ranks of the regiment. These officers were often nominated and even voted into "office" by the men of the regiment, who were neighbors and possibly even family members of the candidates. In such situations, the criteria for an officer frequently fell on such things as professional achievement, family background, high moral character, or other qualities that gave a man standing in the community -- not on military experience or prowess.
If a regiment lacked a chaplain, an officer could be called upon to lead his men in prayer immediately before sending them into battle. Untested in battle, the new officer feels awkward and uncomfortable in his role as not only military, but also spiritual, leader of his troops. While his lips may be praying the 23rd Psalm, "...He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me. . .", his heart might be questioning if he is worthy of the faith that the men place in him as their leader. With prayer and faith his only respite, he questions if he is truly the instrument God has appointed for this task. As he feels the impact of the responsibility for his men and the trust which these new soldiers have placed in him, human weaknesses are stirred, and he must surely wonder: Am I equal to this task?