LAWS AND ORDERS
SUMMARY OF LEGISLATIVE ACTS AND EXECUTIVE ORDERS -- 1862-1865
(EXTRACTS FROM "THE WAR OF THE REBELLION, OFFICIAL RECORDS OF THE UNION AND CONFEDERATE ARMIES SERIES III, VOLUME V, SERIAL NUMBER 126")
Colored Men and Their Relation to the Military Service, as Established by Laws and Orders During the Late War, and Their Recruitment as Soldiers
Part IV, Report of Provost-Marshal-General's Bureau, March 17, 1866.
"At the commencement of the rebellion, April 15, 1861, the Army was composed exclusively of white troops. The regulations of the Army governing the recruiting service (Par. 1299) provided that 'any free white male person above the age of eighteen,' etc., 'might be enlisted.' Negro slavery existed in fifteen states of the Union, and fugitive slaves escaping from one state to another were delivered up on claim of their owners.
"The first legislation of Congress directly affecting colored persons was the act passed March 13, 1862. It prohibited all officers or people in the military or naval service of the United States from employing any of the forces under their respective commands for the purpose of returning fugitives from service or labor who escaped from any persons to whom such service or labor was claimed to be due; and provided that any officer found guilty by a court-martial of violating this article should be dismissed from the service.
"This was followed by an act, approved July 17, 1862, the twelfth section of which authorized the President to receive into service of the United States, for the purpose of constructing intrenchments, or performing camp duty, or any other labor, or any military or naval service for which they were found competent, persons of African descent, and provided that such persons should be enrolled and organized, under such regulations, not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws, as the President may prescribe.
"The fifteenth section directs that --
"All persons who have been or shall be hereatfer enrolled in the service of the United States under this act shall receive the pay and rations now allowed by law to soldiers, according to their respective grades: Provided, That persons of African descent, who under this law shall be employed, shall receive ten dollars per month and one ration, three dollars of which monthly pay be in clothing.
"The amount of pay allowed to infantry soldiers (white) at the passage of this act was $13.00 per month, and an allowance in clothing of $3.50 per month, and one ration each.
"The act entitled, 'An act to suppress insurrection, to punish treason and rebellion, to seize and confiscate the property of rebels, and for other purpose,' approved July 17, 1862 provides that whoever shall commit treason 'shall suffer death' and all his slaves be 'declared free'.
"Section eleven declares --
"That the President of the United States is authorized to employ as many persons of African descent as he may deem necessary and proper for the suppression of this rebellion, and for this purpose he may organize and use them in such manner as he may judge best for the public welfare.
"And by the latter section the authority of the President to receive into the service persons of African descent if extended, giving him authority to employ as many of this class of persons as he might deem necessary for the suppression of the rebellion.
"The pay of this class of persons, as fixed by the twelfth section of the preceding act, was not changed.
"On the 1st day of January, 1863, the immortal decree of emancipation proclaimed freedom to the blacks of all the States declared to be in rebellion, with the exception of certain parishes in Louisiana.
"By an act approved March 3, 1863, it is provided as follows:
'That cooks shall be detailed, in turn, from the privates of each company of troops in the service of the United States, at the rate of one cook for each company numbering less than thirty men, and two cooks for each company numbering over thirty men, who shall serve ten days each.
'That the President of the United States be, and he is hereby, authorized, to cause to be enlisted, for each cook, two under-cooks of African descent, who shall receive for their full compensation ten dollars per month and one ration per day, three dollars of said monthly pay being in clothing.
"On the 30th of July, 1863, the President ordered as follows:
'The act of February 24, 1864, amendatory of the enrollment act, Section 24, provided:
"That all able-bodied male colored persons between the ages of twenty and forty-five years, resident in the United States, shall be enrolled according to the provisions of this act, and of the act to which this is an amendment, and form part of the national forces; and when a slave of a loyal master shall be drafted and mustered into the service of the United States, his master shall have a certificate thereof, and there thereupon such slave shall be free; and the bounty of one hundred dollars, now payable by law for each drafted man, shall be paid to the person to whom such drafted person was owing service or labor at the time of his muster into the service of the United States. The Secretary of War shall appoint a commission in each of the slave States represented in Congress, charged to award each loyal person to whom a colored volunteer may owe service a just compensation, not exceeding three hundred dollars, for each such colored volunteer, payable out of the fund derived fro m commutations, and every such colored volunteer on being mustered into service shall be free. And in all cases where men of color have been heretofore enlisted, or have volunteered in the military service of the United States, all the provisions of this act, so far as the payment of bounty and compensation are provided, shall be equally applicable as to those who may be hereafter recruited. But men of color, drafted or enlisted, or who may volunteer into the military service, while they shall be credited on the quotas of the several States, or subdivisions of States, wherein they are respectively drafted, enlisted, or shall volunteer, shall not be assigned as State troops, but shall be mustered into regiments or companies as United States colored troops.'
"Up to this time and until the passage of the act entitled 'An act making appropriations for the support of the Army for the year ending the thirtieth day of June, eighteen hundred and sixty-five, and for other purposes,' approved June 15, 1864, there was no law providing for the payment of bounty to colored volunteers, either free or slave, and the pay of colored troops still remained at $10 per month, as fixed by the act of July 17, 1862.
"The act just cited provides -
'That all persons of color who have been or may be mustered into the military service of the United States shall receive the same uniform, clothing, arms, equipments, camp equipage, rations, medical and hospital attendance, pat and emoluments, other than bounty, as other soldiers of the regular or volunteer forces of the United States of like arm of the service, from and after the first day of January, eighteen hundred and sixty-four; and that every person of color who shall hereafter be mustered into the service shall receive such sums in bounty as the President shall order in the different States and parts of the United States, not exceeding one hundred dollars.'
"This section placed colored troops on an equal footing with white troops in all respects touching pay and allowances, but withheld the bounty as hitherto, except in such amount as the President might order, not to exceed $100.
"Section 14 of an act approved July 4, 1864, provided:
"That the widows and children of colored soldiers who have been, or who may be hereafter, killed, or who have died or may hereafter die of wounds received in battle, or who have died or may hereafter die of disease contracted in the military service of the United States, and in the line of duty, shall be entitled to receive the pensions now provided by law, without other proof of marriage than that the parties had habitually recognized each other as man and wife, and lived together as such for a definite period next preceding the soldier's enlistment, nor less than two years, to be shown by the affidavits of credible witnesses; Provided, however, That such widow and children are free persons; Provided, further, That if such parties resided in any State in which their marriage may have been legally solemnized the usual evidence shall be required.'
"Section 5 of an act approved March 3, 1865, Provided:
'That all persons of color who were enlisted and mustered into the military service of the United States in South Carolina, by and under the direction of Major General Hunter and Brigadier General Saxton, in pursuance of the authority from the Secretary of War, dated August twenty-fifth, eighteen hundred and sixty-two, that the persons so received into service, and their officers, to be entitled to and receive the same pay and rations as are allowed by law to other volunteers in the service - and in every case where it shall be made to appear to the satisfaction of the secretary of War that any regiment of colored troops has ben mustered into the service of the United States, under and assurance by the President or the Secretary of War, that the non-commissioned officers and privates of such regiment should be paid the same as other troops of the same arm of the service shall, from the date of their enlistment, receive the same pay and allowances as are allowed by law to other volunteers in the military service; and the Secretary of War shall make all necessary regulations to cause payment to be made in accordance herewith.'
"The foregoing embraces the entire legislation and the most important Executive orders touching the relation of colored men to the military service."
Researched and Compiled