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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive

Re: AA Confederate Solider Info


On the 17th of February, 1864, the first action was taken by the rebel Congress for employing colored men for military purposes by the passage of the act "to increase the efficiency of the Army by the employment of free negroes and slaves in certain capacities."

By this act the free negro men in the Confederacy between the ages of eighteen and fifty were "held liable to perform such duties with the Army, or in connection with the military defenses of the country in the way of work upon fortifications, or in Government works for the production or preparation of material of war, or in military hospitals, as the Secretary of War or the commanding general of the Trans-Mississippi Department may from time to time prescribe; and while engaged in the performance of such duties shall receive rations and clothing, and compensation at the rate of $11 a month, under such rules as the said Secretary may establish," &c. Authority to employ for like purposes slaves to the number of 20,000 was granted by the same act, the wages of this class being paid to the owners of the slaves, and their impressment being authorized if they were not offered in sufficient numbers.

"An act to increase the military forces of the Confederate States," approved March 30, 1865, authorized the employment of negroes as soldiers. It recited--

That if, under the previous sections of this act, the President shall not be able to raise a sufficient number of troops to prosecute the war successfully and maintain the sovereignty of the States and the independence of the Confederate States, then he is hereby authorized to call on each State, whenever he thinks it expedient, for her quota of 300,000 troops, in addition to those subject to military service under existing laws, or so many thereof as the President may deem necessary for the purposes herein mentioned; to be raised from such of the population, irrespective of color, in each State, as the proper authorities thereof may determine.

The surrender of the rebel armies and the overthrow of the so-called Confederate Government in April, 1865, followed so close upon this legislation that no negro soldiers were recruited under it.

In connection with this legislation the following order is of interest:


Richmond, August 21, 1862.

I. Whereas, Major-General Hunter, recently in command of the enemy's forces on the coast of South Carolina, and Brigadier-General Phelps, a military commander of the enemy in the State of Louisiana, have organized and armed negro slaves for military service against their masters, citizens of this Confederacy; and whereas, the Government of the United States has refused to answer an inquiry whether said conduct of its officers meets its sanction, and has thus left to this Government no other means of repressing said crimes and outrages than the adoption of such measures of retaliation as shall serve to prevent their repetition:

Ordered, That Major-General Hunter and Brigadier-General Phelps be no longer held and treated as public enemies of the Confederate States, but as outlaws, and that in the event of the capture of either of them, or that of any other commissioned officer employed in drilling, organizing, or instructing slaves with a view to their armed service in this war, he shall not be regarded as a prisoner of war, but held in close confinement for execution as a felon, at such time and place as the President shall order.

By order:

Adjutant and Inspector General.


SOURCE: United States War Department. THE WAR OF THE REBELLION: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, SERIES III--VOLUME V [S# 126]. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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