HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF, No. 118.
New Orleans, December 24, 1862
Applications for the suspension of the order closing certain churches in the city of New Orleans have been presented to the militarily 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 the 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 rescind 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 cover, 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.
HDQRS. DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF, No. 120.
New Orleans, December 26, 1862
The following proclamation is published to the troops of this department for the information and government of all concerned:
HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF,
New Orleans, December 16, 1862
In obedience to orders from the President I have assumed command of the Department of the Gulf, to which is added by his special order the State of Texas.
The duty with which I am charged requires me to assist in the restoration, of the Government of the United States. It is my desire to secure to the people of every class all the privileges of possession and enjoyment which are consistent with public safety or which it is possible for a beneficent and just government to confer.
In the execution of the high trust with which I am charged I rely upon the co-operation and counsel of all loyal and well-disposed people and upon the manifest interest of those dependent upon the pursuits of peace, as well as upon the support of naval and land forces.
My instructions require me to treat as enemies those who are enemies, but I shall gladly regard as friends those who are friends. No restrictions will be placed upon the freedom of individuals which are not imperatively demanded by considerations of public safety, but while their claims will be liberally considered it is due also to them to state that all the rights of the Government will be unflinchingly maintained. Respectfully consideration and prompt reparation will be accorded to all persons who are wronged in body or estate by those under my command.