December 1862 was a terrible month for Abraham Lincoln. General Robert E. Lee at Fredericksburg had just defeated his principal army, the Army of the Potomac. As a result, the Radical Republican senators felt that now was the time to force Lincoln to push the war more vigorously. More importantly, they wanted to replace Secretary of State Seward who was viewed as the power behind Lincoln.
Section 456 (g) 1 of The Military Selective Service Act (as amended through July 9, 2003) states: "Regular or duly ordained ministers of religionshall be exempt from training and service." Based on this clause, clergy, including rabbis, have been exempt from the draft since the Civil War.