Lest We Forget - African American Military History by Researcher, 
				Author and Veteran Bennie McRae, Jr.


General Orders No. 32.

Richmond, March 11, 1864.

I. The act of Congress relative to the employment of free negroes and slaves in certain capacities and the instructions of the War Department relative to its execution are published for the information of those concerned:


AN ACT to increase the efficiency of the Army by the employment of free negroes and slaves in certain capacities.

Whereas, the efficiency of the Army is greatly diminished by the withdrawal from the ranks of able-bodied soldiers to act as teamsters, and in various other capacities in which free negroes and slaves might be advantageously employed: Therefore,

The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That all male free negroes and other free persons of color, not including those who are free under the treaty of Paris of eighteen hundred and three, or under the treaty with Spain of eighteen hundred and nineteen, resident in the Confederate States, between the ages of eighteen and fifty years, shall be 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 eleven dollars a month, under such rules and regulations as the said Secretary may establish: Provided, That the Secretary of War or the commanding general of the Trans-Mississippi Department, with the approval of the President, may exempt from the operations of this act such free negroes as the interests of the country may require should be exempted, or such as he may think proper to exempt, on grounds of justice, equity, or necessity.

SEC. 2. That the Secretary of War is hereby authorized to employ for duties similar to those indicated in the preceding section of this act, as many male negro slaves, not to exceed twenty thousand, as in his judgment, the wants of the service may require, furnishing them, while so employed, with proper rations and clothing, under rules and regulations to be established by him, and paying to the owners of said slaves such wages as may be agreed upon with said owners for their use and service, and in the event of the loss of any slaves while so employed, by the act of the enemy, or by escape to the enemy, or by death inflicted by the enemy, or by disease contracted while in any service required of said slaves, then the owners of the same shall be entitled to receive the full value of such slaves, to be ascertained by agreement or by appraisement, under the law regulating impressments, to be paid under such rules and regulations as the Secretary of War may establish.

SEC. 3. That when the Secretary of War shall be unable to procure the service of slaves in any military department in sufficient numbers for the necessities of the Department, upon the terms and conditions set forth in the preceding section, then he is hereby authorized to impress the services of as many male slaves, not to exceed twenty thousand, as may be required, from time to time, to discharge the duties indicated in the first section of this act, according to laws regulating the impressment of slaves in other cases: Provided, That slaves so impressed shall, while employed, receive the same rations and clothing, in kind and quantity, as slaves regularly hired from their owners; and, in the event of their loss, shall be paid for in the same manner and under the same rules established by the said impressment laws: Provided, That if the owner have but one male slave between the age of eighteen and fifty, he shall not be impressed against the will of said owner: Provided further, That free negroes shall be first impressed, and if there should be a deficiency, it shall be supplied by the impressment of slaves according to the foregoing provisions: Provided further, That in making the impressment, not more than one of every five male slaves between the ages of eighteen and forty-five shall be taken from any owner, care being taken to allow in each case a credit for all slaves who may have been already impressed under this act, and who are still in service, or have died or been lost while in service. And all impressments under this act shall be taken in equal ratio from all owners in the same locality, city, county or district.


Speaker House of Representatives.


President pro tem. of the Senate.

Approved February 17, 1864.



II. The Bureau of Conscription will direct the enrollment of all the persons described in the first section of the act aforesaid east of the Mississippi River who are not unfit for the service required from them, by reason of physical or mental incapacity or imbecility, and will assign them to the performance of the duties mentioned in the act, or similar duties in any of the military bureaus, or with troops in the field, as there may be any call for such service.

III. Applications for an exemption on the grounds that the interests of the country require it, or because it is demanded by justice, equity, or necessity, will be made to the enrolling officer in writing, and will be dispose of by him according to the general directions contained in the regulations published in Orders, No. 26, 1864, under the "act to organize forces to serve during the war."

IV. For the execution of the sections in the foregoing act, relative to the employment and impressment of slaves, the provisions of Orders No. 138, of the 24th of October, 1863, will afford the requisite rules for the guidance of the military bureaus and commanding generals, with modifications hereafter mentioned. First. That slaves shall not be impressed when the services of free negroes can be obtained. Second. Slaves under the age of eighteen and above the age of fifty are exempt. Third. The hire for slaves impressed shall be according to the rates fixed by the appraisers under the act to regulate impressments. Fourth. The limitation as to the term for which slaves shall be impressed for service shall be for twelve months, instead of the term fixed by said orders, if the exigency shall require it.

V. All impressments for service in the various military bureaus under this act will be by special order upon application to the War Department, disclosing the efforts that have been made to provide other labor specified in the act, the necessity for the impressment, and the plan proposed to secure it.

VI. The general commanding the Trans-Mississippi Department will superintend the execution of the law for that department.

By order:


Adjutant and Inspector General.


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Category: Civil War | Subcategory: Reports | Tags: Mississippi
Related Topics / Keywords / Phrases: 1863, 1864, 24th, Cooper, Davis, Jefferson Davis, Mississippi, Mississippi River,