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A reminiscence of an official interview with General R. E. Lee.

By J. Wm. Jones.
In a lot of old war newspapers sent the other day to the office of the Society, I found an order which recalled one of the most pleasant interviews I ever had with our grand old chief--General Lee--and which I have long searched for in vain, as I desired to preserve it.

At one of the meetings of our Chaplains' Association, held at Orange Courthouse, Rev. B. T. Lacy and myself were appointed a committee to interview General Lee in reference to the custom of some officers of using the Sabbath for drills and parades, and of choosing such hours for these exercises as to interfere very seriously with the religious services of the day.

The old hero received us very kindly, entered fully into the spirit of our mission, and as the result of the interview issued the following order:

General order, no. 15.

Headquarters army of Northern Virginia, February 7th, 1864.
I. The attention of the army has already been called to the obligation of a proper observance of the Sabbath, but the sense of its importance, not only as a moral and religious duty, but as contributing to the personal health and well-being of the troops, induces the Commanding-General to repeat the orders on that subject. He has learned with great pleasure that in many brigades convenient houses of worship have been erected, and earnestly desires that every facility consistent with the requirements of discipline shall be afforded the men to assemble themselves together for the purpose of devotion.

II. To this end he directs that none but duties strictly necessary shall be required to be performed on Sunday, and that the labor, both of men and animals, which it is practicable to anticipate or postpone, or the immediate performance of which is not essential to the safety, health, or comfort of the army, shall be suspended on that day.

III. Commanding officers will require the usual inspections on Sunday to be held at such time as not to interfere with the attendance of the men on divine service at the customary hour in the morning.

They will also give their attention to the maintenance of order and quiet around the place of worship, and prohibit anything that may tend to disturb or interrupt religious exercises.

R. E. Lee, General.


I have a very vivid recollection of the interest he manifested in what we told him of the great revival which was making well nigh every camp vocal with the praises of God, and of the emphatic expressions of delight to which he gave utterance. And when Dr. Lacy said to him, “General, the chaplains of this army have a warm affection for you personally, and a deep interest in your welfare, and many of their most fervent prayers are offered in your behalf,” his face flushed, his eyes were moistened, and with deep emotion he replied, “I heartily thank them for that. And I can only say that I am a poor sinner, trusting in Christ alone for salvation, and needing all of the prayers they can offer for me.”

At our invitation he afterwards attended several meetings of our Chaplains' Association, and manifested the liveliest interest in the proceedings.

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Robert Edward Lee (2)
R. E. Lee (2)
B. T. Lacy (2)
John William Jones (1)
Christ (1)
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February 7th, 1864 AD (1)
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