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less number of batteries, and the colonel, two mojors, and one assistant surgeon mustered out.
4. The companies and batteries formed by consolidation will be ot the maximum strength, and will be organized as now directed by law and regulations. The tirst letters of the alphabet will be used to designate the companies.
5. The company officers, commissioned and noncommissioned, rendered supernumerary, will be mustered out of service at the Hate of consolidation. All other officers and nou-commissioued officers will be retained.
ii. The officers to be retained will be selected by the division and corps commanders, under the instructions of the commanding general of the army or department, from among the most efficient officers of the respective regiments. After the consolidation, as herein directed, the reduced proportion of officers will be maintained, and no appointments to vacancies will be made except upon notification from the adjutant-general of the army. To this end commanders of armies and departments will report weekly to the adjutapt-generals the vacancies to be filled. The said reports will be separate for each State, and must embrace the name, rank, and regiment of the party creating the vacancy, with date and cause thereof. If an order was issued in the case, its number, date, and source must be given. Commissaries and assistant commissaries of musters will closely observe this paragraph, and make no musters in except of the proportion herein fixed.
The difficulty attending the execution of this order, and the positive loss which the service would incur by the withdrawal of numerous competent officers, apart from the injustice to the officers themselves, were readily perceived; and soon after its promulgation the corps commanders of the army of the Potomac unanimously requested the commander-in-chief to take no action in the matter until the disastrous effect of such a step could be laid before the President. In accordance with theso suggestions, the power has been but sparingly used, and only where the discharge of officers would prove a positive benefit to tlie regiment or the service. Recruiting was wisely substituted as a means of restoring efficiency; and old regiments, reduced by battle and hardships, but proud of their well earned fame, were allowed to retain their experienced and familiar leaders, whom, in many cases, they considered ati indispensable part of their organization.
By official returns made in January, 1863, it was estimated that there were then absent from duty, 8,987 officers, and. 280,073 noncommissioned officers and privates, of whom only a part were really disabled or sick, the rest being mainly deserters or stragglers who absented themselves in order to avoid duty. The Government itself was responsible in a measure for this state of things, from the readiness with which it had permitted furloughs to bo granted, and from its neglect to punish abuses of the privilege. Many of the absentees wero living openly at their homes, having far exceeded the reasonable timo allowed for recovery from wounds or sickness, and among these a lax sentiment had grown up in regard to the obligations of a furlough, which they began finally to consider as equivalent to a discharge from the service. Many probably honestly believed that, having obtained a furlough, they
might overstay their time without incurring the reproach of desertion; and more still, seeing that no measures were taken to reclaim or punish deserters, openly defied the authority of the Government by resuming their ordinary occupations in timo of peace. There was abundant evidence, also, that disaffected persons wero systematically employed in promoting desertion, either by enticing men from their regiments, or persuading them to overstay their furloughs until they were afraid to return to the army, and become amenable to punishment.
The publication of these statistics naturally alarmed the country, and with a view of restoring to the service much of its proper material, and of discouraging the practice of desertion, a special clause was inserted in the Conscription Act, upon which the President framed the following proclamation:
Executive Mansion, March 10th, 1SC8.
In pursuance of the twenty-sixth section of the act of Congress, entitled an act for enrolling and calling out the national forces, and for other purposes, approved on the third of March, in tlie year one thousand eight hundred and sixtv-threc, I, Abraham Liucoln. President and commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States, do hereby order and command that all soldiers enlisted or drafted into the service of the United States, now absent from their regiments without leave, shall forthwith return to their respective regiments, and I do hereby declare and proclaim that all soldiers now absent from their respective regiments without leave who shall on or before the 1st day of April, WJ3, report themselves at any rendezvous designated by the General Orders of the War Department, No. 58, hereto annexed, may be restored to their respective regiments without punishment, except the forfeiture of pay and allowances during their absence, aud all who do not return within the time above specified, shall be arrested as deserters, cud punished as the law provides.
And whereas evil disposed and disloyal persons, nt Buudry places, have enticed aud procured soldiers to desert and absent themselves from their regiments, thereby weakening the strength of the armies and prolonging the war, giving aid and comfort to the enemy, and cruelly exposing the gallant aud fuithful soldiers remaining' in the ranks to increased hardships and dangers;
I do, therefore, call upon all patriotic and faithful citizens to oppose and resist the aforementioned dangerous and treasonable crimes, and aid in restoring to their regiments all soldiers absent without leave, and to assist in the execution of the act of Congress for "enrolling and calling out the national forces and for other purposes," and fo support the proper authorities in the prosecution and punishment ol offenders ngninst said act, and aid iu suppressing the insurrection and the rebellion.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand.
Done at the city of Washington, this 10th day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States eighty-seventh.
By the President:
Tlie proclamation had the effect of inducing many deserters to return voluntarily to their duty, and the enforcement of strict orders issued by the commanders of several departments caused the compulsory return of others. In a corresponding degree the temptation to overstay furloughs or to desert was lessened, and the efficiency of the army thereby greatly promoted. As the example of officers abusing the privileges of their furloughs was naturally supposed to exert an injurious influence upon the rank and file of the army, the commanderin-chief, in accordance with a special privilege in the Conscription Act, instructed courts martial, in all parts of the country, that they had power to sentence officers who should absent themselves from their commands without leave, to be reduced to the ranks to serve three years or during the war; and, by a general order from the War Department, commanding officers were required to report in their monthly returns of deserters the names of men joined from desertion, as well as those who deserted during the month. So effective were these provisions, that at the close of the year the general-in-chief was enabled to report a considerable abatement in straggling and desertion, as well as in the overstaying of furloughs, although he was of the opinion that the punishment was not quite sufficiently prompt and certain to entirely prevent the evil. From the report of the provost marshal-general, to whom was intrusted the general direction of the subject, it appears that, between May 1st and November 1st, nearly twenty-two thousand deserters and absentees were arrested; and that, owing to the greater probability of arrest and to the punishments that had been inflicted, the number of deserters in September and October was only one half as great as in May and June. Previous to 1SG3, the employment of colored soldiers in the United States service was confined to two or three localities. At Hilton Head, S. Carolina, Gen. Hunter had caused the able-bodied negroes from the neighboring plantations to be formed into regiments and drilled by competent officers; and Gen. Butler, finding in New Orleans a colored corps of the Louisiana State militia, raised under the certificate of a former governor of the State, placed it in the service of the Government, and encouraged tho formation of similar organizations. These troops were originally intended chiefly for local service, or, if sent beyond the localities in which thoy were raised, were- to be employed to garrison posts which the unacclimated Northern soldiers could not safely occupy during tho unhealthy season. Public opinion had not yet decided that they could become an integral portion of tho army and as such bo available for every species of military service, notwithstanding that. Congress, by two acts passed in July, 1802, had expressly authorized the employment of colored men as troops.
The first of these, known as the Confiscation Act, permitted the President to employ as many persons of African descent as ho might deem necessary and proper for tlie suppression of the rebellion; and for that purpose to organize and use them in such manner as ho might judge best for tho public welfare. The
second net authorized him to receive into the service of the United States for any species of labor or military or naval service for which they might be found competent, persons of African descent, who should be enrolled and organized under such regulations, not inconsistent with tho. Constitution and the laws, as he might prescribe; and should receive $10 per month and one ration per day, of which monthly pay $3 dollars might be in clothing.
Both laws wero mado with reference to thoso persons who by force of arms or by provisions of statutes had been recently freed from bondage; and the important class of colored soldiers from the free States was probably not then in the contemplation of Congress. Many considerations were, urged upon the President to induce him to exercise the power conferred upon him in a restricted sense only. Tho employment of negroes as laborers upon fortifications, teamsters, boatmen, and in similar capacities, was declared legitimate and sufficient for the present needs of tho country; but, in the opinion of many, the arming of any considerable body of such persons was a measure fraught with ominous consequences. Whether or not these reasons were deemed conclusive, it is certain that, previous to 1803, tho number of persons of African descent employed as soldiers was exceedingly limited. But with the commencement of the year, a vigorous movement was initiated in various parts of the country to organize colored regiments, and especially to bring to the aid of the Government the latent strength of the large negro population in tho seceded States.
On January 12th, Mr. Stevens, of Pennsylvania, introduced into tho House of Representatives a bill authorizing tho President to raise, equip, and organizo 150.000. colored troops, which, after being amended so as to provide for the enlistment of not over 300,000, was passed, February 2d, in the face of a determined opposition from members of the border States, and from some friends of the administration. A similar bill introduced by Mr. Sumner in the Senate, having been reported back from the Committee on Military Affairs, with a recommendation that it should not pass, on the ground that sufficient authority to raise such troops was conferred by tho act of 1802, no further action was taken on cither bill. Tho subject had, however, been by this time very generally discussed, both in and out of Congress, and in deference to the wishes of a largo portion of tho community, and of many prominent public men, including officers of experience, the President determined to exercise, to their fullest extent, tho powers conferred upon him by the act of 1S02. Congress having in the Conscription Act avoided making any distinction between white and colored citizens, and required them equally to be enrolled and drafted in the armies of tho United States, the policy of the administration thenceforth became clearly defined, and "persons of African descent,"
as 'well in the free as in the slave States, were declared to be available as soldiers.
The initiative in raising colored regiments in the free States was taken by Governor Andrew of Massachusetts, acting in conformity with the following order from the Secretary
War Department, WAsmitCTox City, ) Jan. '.iiiM, Isiku '<, Ordered that Governor Andrew, of Massachusetts, is authorized, until further orders, to raise such number of volunteer companies of artillery for duty in the forts of Massachusetts and elsewhere, and such corps of infantry for the volunteer military service as he may fmd convenient. Such volunteers to be enlisted for three years, unless sooner discharged, and may include persons of African descent, organized into separato corps. He will make the usual requisitions on the appropriate Staff Bureaus, and officers for the proper transportation, organization, supplies, subsistence, arms and equipments of such volunteers.
[Signed] EDWIX M. STAXTOX,
Secretary of War.
Recruiting offices were immediately opened by the governor, and, as the colored population of Massachusetts was inconsiderable, agents were sent into neighboring States, where tho scruples of the peoplo or of tho executive prevented the enlistment of troops of this class. In reply to enquiries, Governor Andrew announced that these regiments would be numbered, organized, considered, and treated in every respect precisely as other regiments previously sent into the field by Massachusetts; and, on the authority of tho Secretary of War, he pledged the honor of tho United States to them in the same degree and to tho same rights with all other troops. Other free States subsequently sanctioned tho enlistment of colored soldiers, including Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New York, Oliio, and Kansas.
The Government having matured its plans with regard to the negro population whom the progress of tho war had brought within the Union lines, Gen. Thomas, adjutant-general of the United States, was despatched in March to the Southwest, charged with tho organization of colored troops, and the establishment of a labor system in the Mississippi valley. In the discharge of these duties he visited Memphis, Helena, and other points on both sides of the Mississippi as far south as Vioksburg, and while at Lake Providence, Louisiana, delivered, on April 8th, an address to the troops stationed there, the following extracts from which describe one important object of his visit, and unfold the policy of the Government at length:
I came from Washington clothed with the fullest power in this matter. With this power, I can act as if the President of the United States were himself present. I am directed to refer nothing to Washington, but to act promptly—what I have to do, to do at ouce—to strike down the unworthy and to elevate the deserving. ***">* You know full well—for you have been over this country—that the rebels have sent into, the field all their available fighting men— every man capable of bearing arms, and yon know they have kept at home all their slaves for the raising of subsistence for their armies in the field. In this way they can bring to bear against us all the strength of their so-called Confederate States, while we at the
North can only send a portion of our fighting force, being compelled to leave behind nnother portion to cultivate our fields and supply the wants of an immense army. The administration has determined to take from the rebels this source of supply—to take their negroes and compel them to send back a portion of their whites to cultivate their deserted plantations; and verv poor persons they would* be to fill the place of the dark-hued laborer. "They must do this or their armies will starve.
On the first day of January last the President issued bis Proclamation declaring that from that day forward all the slaves in the States then in rebellion should be free. You know that vast numbers of these slaves are within your borders, inside of the lines of this army. They come into your camps and vou cannot but receive them. The authorities in Washington arc very much pained to bear, and I fear with truth in many cases, that some of those poor unfortunates have, on different occasions, been turned away from us, and their applications for admission within our lines have been refused by our officers and soldiers. This is not the way to use frecdmen.
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All of you will some day be en picket duty, and I charge you all if any of this unfortunate race come within your lines that you do not turn them away, but receive them kindly and cordially. They are to be encouraged to come to us. They are to be received with open arms; they arc to be fed and clothed; they are to be armed.
This is the policy that has been fully determined upon. I am here to say that I am authorized to raise as many regiments of blacks as I can. I am authorized: to give commissions, from the highest to the lowest, and I desire those persons who are earnest in this work to take hold of it. I desire only those whose hearts are in it, and to them alone will I give commissions. I don't care who they are or what their present rank may be. I do not hesitate to say that nil proper persons will receive commissions.
While I am authorized thus, in the name of the Secretary of War, I have the fullest authority to dismiss from the army any man, be his rank what it may, whom I find maltreating the freedmen. This part of my duty I will most assuredly perform if any case comes before me. I would rather do that than give commissions, because such men arc unworthy the name of soldiers.
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I would like to raise on this river twenty regiments at least before I go back. I shall take all the women and children and all the men unfit for our military organizations, aud place them on these plantations; then take these regiments and put them in the rear. They will guard the rear effectually. Knowing the country well, and familiar with all the roads and swamps, they will be able to track out the accursed guerillas and run them from the land. When I get regiments raised you may sweep out into the interior with impunity, liecollect, for every regiment of blacks I raise, 1 raise a regiment of whites to face the foe in the firld. This, fellow-soldiers, is the determined policy of the administration. You all know full well when the President of the United States, though said to be slow in coming to a determination, when he onceputs his foot down, it is there, and he is not going to take it up. He has put his foot down; I am hero to assure you that my official influence shall be given that he shall not raise "it.
Under the impulse given by this action of tho Government, recruiting for colored regiments proceeded with considerable activity in Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, and North and South Carolina, and before the close of the year was iu progress in parts of Virginia and other districts in possession of the Federal arms, as also in Maryland and in the District of Columbia. Gen. Bank?, commanding the Department of the Gnlf, was so well satisfied with the black troops, which lie found in the service on his arrival in New Orleans, and was so confident in the ability and disposition of the negroes to becomo pood soldiers, that he ordered a whole army corps to be raised, consisting of 18 regiments, of 500 men each, to be called the "Corps d'Afrique." His general order on the subject was in the following terms:
HsADQCARTKRS DEPARTMENT 01* THE Gr/LF, 1
is'iNtttENm Abmy Coups, Opelousas, 1 May 1st, 1SS3. \ General Orders, No. 40.—The Major-Gencral commanding the Department proposes the organization of a Corps a" Armre of colored troops, to be designated as the " Corps d'Afrique." It will consist ultimately of eighteen regiments, representing all arms—infantry, artillery, eavalrv—making nine Tjrigades of two regiments each, and three divisions of three brigades each, with appropriate corps of engineers, and flying hospitals for each division. Appropriate uniforms, and the gradation of pay to correspond with the value of the services, will be hereafter awarded.
In the field the efficiency of every corps depends upon the influence of its officers upon the troops engaged, and the practical limits of one direct command is generally estimated at 1,000 men. The most eminent military historians and commanders, among others Thiers and Chambray, express the opinion upon a full review of the elements of military power, that the valor of the soldier is rather acquired than natural. Nations, whose individual heroism is undisputed, have failed as soldiers in the field. The European and American continents exhibit instances of this character, and the military prowess of every nation may be estimated by the centuries it has devoted to military contest, or the traditional passion of its people for military glory. With a race unaccustomed to military service, much more depends on the immediate influence of officers upon individual members, than with those that have acquired more or less of warlike habits and spirit by centuries of contest. It is deemed best, therefore, in the organization of the Corps d'Afrique, to limit the regiments to the smallest number of men consistent with efficient service in the field, in order to secure the most thorough instruction and discipline, and the largest influence of the officers over the troops. At first they will be limited to five hundred men. The average of American regiments is less than that number.
The Commanding General desires to detail for temporary or permanent duty the best officers of the army for the organization, instruction, and discipline of this corps. With their aid he is confident that the corps will render important service to the Government. It is not established upon any dogma of equality or other theory, but as a practical and sensible matter of business. Tbe Government makes use of mules, horses, uneducated and educated white men in the defence of its institutions. Why should not the negro contribute whatever is in his power for the cause in which he is as deeply interested as other men? Wo may properly demand from him whatever service he can render. The chief defect in organizations of this character has arisen from incorrect ideas of the officers in command. Their discipline has been lax, and in some cases the conduct of their regiments unsatisfactory and discreditable. Controversies unnecessary and injurious to the service have arisen between them and other troops. The organization proposed will reconcile and avoid many of these troubles.
Officers and soldiers will consider the exigencies of the service in this Department, and the absolute necessity of appropriating every element of power to the support of the Government. The prejudices or opinions of men are in nowise involved. The cooperation and active support of all officers and men, and the uomina
tion of men from the ranks, and from the list of noncommissioned and commissioned officers, are respectfully solicited from the Gelieruls commanding the respective divisions.
By command of Maj.-Gen. BANKS.
Richard B. Irwin, A. A.-General.
With a view of systematizing the enlistment of colored troops, the following order, furnishing rules and regulations on the subject, was issued by the War Department after the return of Gen. Thomas to Washington:
General Orders,'Ko. 143.
1. A bureau is established in the Adjutant-General's office for the record of all matters relating to the organization of colored troops. An officer will be assigned to the charge of the bureau, with such number of clerks as may be designated by the Adjutant-General.
2. Three or more field officers will be detailed as inspectors, to supervise the organization of colored troops, at such points as tnay be indicated by the War Department, in the Northern and Western States.
3. Boards will be couvencu at such posts as may ba decided upon by the War Department, to examine applicants for commissions to command colored troops, who, on application to the Adjutant-General, may receive authority to present themselves to the board of examination.
4. No person shall be allowed to recruit for colored troops except specially authorized by the War Department, and no such authority will be given to persons who have not been examined and passed by a board; nor will such authority be given to any one person to raise more than one regiment.
5. The reports of the boards will specify the grade of commission for which each candidate is'fit, and authority to recruit will be given in accordance. Commissions will be issued from tho Adjutant-General's office when the prescribed number of nicu is ready for muster into the service.
6. Colored troops may be accepted by companies, to be afterward consolidated in battalions" and regiments by the Adjutant-General. Regiments will be numbered seriatim, in the order in which they are raised, the numbers to be determined by the Adjutant-General. They will be designated" Regiment of U. S. Colored Troops."
7. Recruiting stations and depots will be established by tho Adjutant-General, as circumstances shall require, and officers will bo detailed to muster in and inspect troops.
8. Non-commissioned officers of colored troops may be selected and appointed from the best men of their • number, in the usual mode of appointing non-commissioned officers. Meritorious commissioned officers will be entitled to promotion to higher ranks, if they prove themselves equal to it.
9. All personal applications for appointments in the colored regiments, or for information concerning them, must be made to the Chief of the Bureau. All written communications should be addressed to the Chief of the Bureau, to the care of the Adjutant-General.
Bv order of the Secret arv of War.
E. D. TOWNSEXD, A. A.-Gcneral. Early in August, Gen. Thomas again left Washington for the Southwest, under" instructions from the War Department to continue, within the region previously visited by him, the " organization into the military service of the United States of all able-bodied male persons of African descent, who may come within our lines, or who may be brought in by our troops, or who may have already placed themselves under the protection of tho Federal Government.'' An order issued by him at Vicksburg, on August 18tb, developed tbo adoption of a new policy by tbo Government, the effect of which would be to very largely increase the number of colored troops in ^the service, and to make the negro, in a degree, work out bis own emancipation. The practice of receiving all negroes who sought the protection of the Government, and allowing them to remain, in many instances, in a state of almost complete inactivity, was thenceforth to bo abolished, experience having shown that it was " not only injustice- to the service, but to the welfare of the negroes themselves, resulting in habits of idleness, sickness, and disease." Hence the following clause:
In future all able-bodied male negroes of tbo above class will at once be organized by such officers as may be detailed for that duty, into the military service of the United Slates, when they will be assigned, to regiments composed of persons of African descent now in process of formation or to be formed hereafter.
Suitable provision was also made in other parts of the order for male negroes incapacitated by age or sickness, and for women and children. The enlistment of negroes in the rebel States, or of colored refugees from such States, was attended with little or no difficulty in respect to claims of service or labor from such persons. The owners were, for the most part, enemies, and after the Emancipation Proclamation of the President tbo question of property was considered definitively settled. When, however, the Government determined to make requisitions upon tbo colored population of the border slave States, or upon those portions of the seceded States expressly excepted from the operation of the Emancipation Proclamation, it became necessary to adopt some rule of compensation for slaveholders, whose rights might bo affected. With this view an order was issued, on Oct. 3d, from the War Department, directing the establishment of recruiting stations in Maryland, Missouri, and Tennessee, and prescribing the method of enlistment. "All ablebodied free negroes, slaves of disloyal persons, • and slaves of loyal persons, with the consent of their owners," were declared eligible for military service, and the State and county in which the enlistments were made were to bo credited with the recruits thus obtained. Loyal slave owners offering slaves for enlistment were to receive $300 for each recruit accepted, upon filing a deed of manumission for him, and making satisfactory proof of title. But if within thirty days from the date of opening enlistments, a sufficient number of recruits should not be obtained to meet the exigencies of the service, then enlistments might be made by slaves, without requiring the consent of their owners, the latter to receive the same compensation, and, upon the same terms, provided for owners offering their slaves for enlistment. Special boards were also appointed for each State to determine all claims of owners, and to further the objects of the order.
Tho number of colored soldiers obtained from tho sources above described has been variously stated, but it appears by the report of tho bureau of enlistments, created in May, that, by December, over 50,000 men had been organized and were in actual service. Not'withstanding the declarations of Governor Andrew and others, that they would be placed on an equal footing with white troops, in respect to bounty, pay, etc., they have been allowed no bounty from the General Government, and under the construction, given by the War Department to the act of 18C2, they can only receive tho pay Qf $10 per month while other soldiers aro paid $13 per mouth, with clothing and daily rations. As colored men arc subject, like white men, to bo drafted under the Conscription Act, and no discrimination in color is recognized by the President's call for volunteers in October, this distinction was strongly urged upon the Government as unjust, and the Secretary of War, in his annual report, recommended that their bounties and pay should be made tho same as for other troops. "As soldiers of the Union,'' he added, "fighting under its banner, exposing their lives to uphold the Government, colored troops aro entitled to enjoy its justice and beneficence."
The apprehensions entertained in some quarters that negroes would be found unfitted for military service have not been justified by events. Officers competent to judge have concurred in describing them as, for the most part, obedient, patient, orderly, and temperate; apt in learning drill; proud of their occupation, and when well led, gallant soldiers. The habit of implicit obedience acquired during their long subjection to the dominant race in the South has rendered them peculiarly amenable to discipline, and not a few officers who have had experience of colored regiments, have declared their preference to command that class of troops. Some cases of insubordination have, nevertheless, occurred; a notable one being that of the 4th regiment of the Corps d'Afrique garrisoning Fort Jackson, on the Mississippi. But these can be generally traced to the neglect or bad conduct of commanding officers. The Secretary of War cites instances of their efficiency as infantry, artillery, and cavalry soldiers, and the following extract from Gen. Banks's oflieial report of the assault on the fortifications of Port Hudson, on May 27th, illustrates their bravery under trying circumstances:
On the extreme light of oniline T posted the 1st and Sd regiments of negro troops. The 1st regiment of Louisiana engineers, composed exclusively of colored men, excepting the officers, was also engaged during the operations of the day. The position occupied by these troops was one of importance, and called for the utmost steadiness and bravery in those to whom it was confided.
It gives me pleasure to report that they answered every expectation. In many respects their conduct was heroic, no troops could be more determined or more daring. They made, during the day, three charges