During the Continental Army’s 1779-1780 winter encampment in Morristown, New Jersey, well known Master Mason General George Washington granted a single holiday to his troops – Saint Patrick’s Day.
So in an effort to give his men a badly needed break, to recognize the heritage of many of his soldiers and to express solidarity with the “brave and generous” people of Ireland, Washington issued general orders on March 16, 1780, proclaiming St. Patrick’s Day a holiday for his troops. It was the first day of rest for the Continental Army in more than a year. “The General directs that all fatigue and working parties cease for to-morrow the SEVENTEENTH instant,” read the orders, “a day held in particular regard by the people of [Ireland].”
History Channel – George Washington’s Revolutionary St. Patrick’s Day