Military Rendition of Slaves

George Washington Williams

in A History of the Negro Troops in the War of the Rebellion, 1861–1865

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780823233854
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823240807 | DOI:

Series: The North's Civil War (FUP)

Military Rendition of Slaves

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At first, the faintest intimation that Negroes should be employed as soldiers in the Union Army was met with derision, and was by many regarded as a joke. The idea of arming the former slaves seemed ridiculous to most civil and military officers. From the period of the introduction of Negroes into the British colonies in North America down to the breaking out of the War of the Rebellion in the South, they had been subjected to a most rigorous system of bondage to the white race. Major-general David Hunter assumed command of the “Department of the South” on March, 31, 1862. His military district comprised the States of Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. On May 9, in “General Order No. 11,” General Hunter declared that “Slavery and martial law in a free country are altogether incompatible.” He therefore proclaimed that the slaves of those States were “forever free.” On May 19, however, President Abraham Lincoln issued a long proclamation abrogating General Hunter's emancipation of slaves in the three states.

Keywords: Negroes; Union Army; slaves; David Hunter; emancipation; Abraham Lincoln; martial law; War of Rebellion

Chapter.  4598 words. 

Subjects: Military History

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