HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, May 13, 1862.
General Orders, No. 27.
It having come to the knowledge of the commanding general that Friday next is proposed to be observed as a day of fasting and prayer, in obedience to some supposed proclamation of one Jefferson Davis, in the several churches of this city, it is ordered that no such observance be had. “Churches and religious houses are to be kept open as in time of profound peace,” but no religious exercises are to be had upon the supposed authority above mentioned.
By command of Major-General Butler,
GEO. C. STRONG,
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, December 24, 1862.
General Orders, No. 118.
Applications for the suspension of the order closing certain churches in the city of New Orleans have been presented to the military governor of the State and by him referred to the major-general commanding. An omission in the church service, assumed to have been made by direction of the church government, is understood to have been the basis of this order. Where the head of the state is also the head of the church an omission like that referred to would be in contravention of political authority; but the Government does not here assume that power, and the case presented does not seem to require a continued intervention of military authority. The order is therefore provisionally rescinded, and the churches will be opened as heretofore on and after Christmas Day. This decision is based upon the negative character of the offense charged.
The commanding general desires it to be understood, however, that clergymen are subject to the restrictions imposed upon all other men. They well know the extent of their privileges. No appeal to the passions or prejudices of the people or to excite hostility to the Government, whether in the form of prayer, exhortation, or sermon, nor any offensive demonstration, whether open or covert, can be allowed. As public teachers, ministers should give some guaranty of their purpose to the public.
The commanding general is indisposed to interfere with the rights of others, or to submit to the interference of others with the rights of the Government, which relies upon its justice and power, and not upon the consent of its opponents for the success of its measures.
By command of Major-General Banks,
RICH’D B. IRWIN,
Lieutenant-Colonel, Assistant Adjutant-General.
HEADQUARTERS DISTRICT OF CENTRAL MISSOURI,
Warrensburg, Mo., April 18, 1865.
General Orders, No. 15.
I. Hereafter no church edifice or other house of public worship of any religious denomination or sect within the limits of this district shall be used for military purposes; nor shall school houses, academies, colleges, or any kind of institution for education, whether religious or secular, be intruded upon, or their grounds, lawns, or gardens molested, nor shall camps be established so near them as to create annoyance.
II. All churches or houses devoted to religious purposes, now occupied as barracks, hospitals, or store-rooms, will be delivered to the properly authorized trustees upon being claimed by them.
By order of Brig. Gen. John McNeil,
C. G. LAURANT,
Lexington, April 25, 1865—7 p.m.
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of telegram of this date inquiring by what authority I closed a loyal man’s church, and what are the reasons for such orders, to which I would respectfully answer that I do not think I have closed a loyal man’s church. My reasons for closing the Methodist Episcopal Church South, of this place, are briefly these: On the 7th of April, from the well-known disloyalty of the churches of this place, I issued a post order that on the next Sabbath the pastors of the churches should return thanks for the late victories and prospect of peace. The pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church South did not do so. I passed the matter unnoticed until the evening of the 15th instant, when, not having opened or caused his church to be opened for the Thanksgiving service, in accordance with the proclamation of His Excellency Governor Fletcher, I informed the pastor that I should take the keys of the church until it could be occupied by a loyal preacher. I hope the general commanding will allow me the privilege of sustaining this action as a proper military necessity.
I have the honor to be, general, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
B. K. DAVIS,
Major, Comdg. Fourth Sub-District, Central District of Missouri.