Union Township Historical Society Photo Archive : Popular Photos : This painting in which the Reverend James Caldwell is depicted at the Battle of Springfield on his horse is thought to be more accurate. When the soldiers ran out of wadding for their guns the minister galloped to The Parsonage of the First Presbyterian of Springfield and grabbed some Isaac Watts' Hymnals so the rebels could rip out the pages and use them in their guns.
There are varying accounts of what took place that day.
From Thomas Fleming's book "Forgotten Victory"-
Suddenly from one end of the American line to the other the cry went up, "Wadding. More wadding." Regular soldiers knew that the paper around the cartridge was not enough to steady the musket ball in the barrel and give the crude gun decent aim. Extra paper had to be crammed down the barrel to assure a reasonably accurate shot.
A frantic messenger was sent racing to the rear. On the road he met James Caldwell, who was riding up and down the battlefield, urging the New Jersey men to stand fast. "I'll get you some wadding", he snapped, putting spurs to his horse.
In minutes he was back looming through the smoke. He had galloped to the attic of the Presbyterian church parsonage and collected every hymn book he could carry. Caldwell then flung the books to the black-faced Continentals. "Give 'em Watts, boys." he roared and thundered back to the parsonage for another load.
This account was taken from Washington Irving's "Life of George Washington" written in 1857 and believed to be the most accurate:
"The image of his murdered wife was before his eyes. Finding the men in want of wadding, he galloped to the Presbyterian church and brought thence a quantity of Watts' psalm and hymn books, which he distributed for the purpose among the soldiers. "Now" cried he, "put Watts' into them boys!" "
Another account has the reverend saying ""Put Watts in them, Boys. Give them Watts!" as he distributed the hymn books."