the height of the Civil War in 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued this
General Order regarding the observance of the Sabbath in the military.
In his General Order, President Lincoln quoted from two separate General
Orders (February 26, and July 9, 1776) issued by George Washington during
the Revolutionary War.
ORDER RESPECTING THE OBSERVANCE OF THE SABBATH DAY IN THE ARMY AND NAVY
November 15, 1862
President, Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, desires and enjoins
the orderly observance of the Sabbath by the officers and men in the military
and naval service. The importance for men and beast of the prescribed weekly
rest, the sacred rights of Christian soldiers and sailors, a becoming deference
to the best sentiment of a Christian people, and a due regard for the divine
will demand that Sunday labor in the Army and Navy be reduced to the measure
of strict necessity.
discipline and character of the national forces should not suffer nor the
cause they defend be imperiled by the profanation of the day or name of
the Most High. “At this time of public distress,” adopting the words of
Washington in 1776, “men may find enough to do in the service of God and
their country without abandoning themselves to vice and immorality.” The
first general order issued by the Father of his Country after the Declaration
of Independence indicates the spirit in which our institutions were founded
and should ever be defended:
General hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live
and act as becomes a Christian soldier defending the dearest rights and
liberties of his country.