In the Confederate South

In the Confederate South a great deal of discussion was taking place as to whether or not blacks should be allowed to serve in the Army. Early in the war in 1861 a number of blacks offered to serve with the Confederates but were turned down. However, on January 2, 1864 Major General Patrick Cleburne nicknamed “The Stonewall Jackson of the West” (One of the most brilliant episodes of the Atlanta campaign of 1864 was Cleburne’s victory at Pickett’s mill over Howard’s corps of Sherman’s army. In the awful carnage at Franklin, November 30, 1864, Cleburne, the “Stonewall Jackson of the West,” gave his last battle order. Within twenty paces of the Union line, pierced by three wounds, he fell, and on the battlefield expired. His death was a disheartening blow to the army of Tennessee, and was mourned throughout the whole South.) proposed that blacks be allowed to enlist in the Confederate Army. This set off a discussion within the halls of the Confederacy. General’s Robert E. Lee had recommended this to Jefferson Davis in 1861 and General Richard S. Ewell had made the suggestion in July 1862. (After serving at First Bull Run he commanded a division under Jackson in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign where he complained bitterly about being left in the dark about plans. Jackson’s style of leadership was to prove the undoing of Ewell once Jackson was gone. Ewell fought through the Seven Days and at Cedar Mountain before being severely wounded and losing a leg at Groveton, in the beginning of the battle of 2nd Bull Run. After a long recovery, he returned to duty in May 1863 and was promoted to command part of Jackson’s old corps. At 2nd Winchester he won a stunning victory and for a moment it looked like a second Stonewall had come. However, at Gettysburg he failed to take advantage of the situation on the evening of the first day when given discretionary orders by Lee. He required exact instructions, unlike his predecessor. After serving through the fall campaigns he fought at the Wilderness where the same problem developed. At Spotsylvania one of his divisions was all but destroyed. After the actions along the North Anna he was forced to temporarily relinquish command due to illness but Lee made it permanent. He was given command in Richmond and was captured at Sayler’s Creek on April 6, 1865, during the retreat to Appomattox. After his release from Fort Warren in July “Old Baldy” retired to a farm near Spring Hill, Tennessee, where he died on January 25, 1872. He is buried in the Old City Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee.)

During the period of discussion Alabama recommended the enlistment of blacks. On November 7, 1864 Confederate President Jeff Davis recommended “limited emancipation” of those slaves who fought with the Confederate Army and General Order No, 14 was issued on March 23, 1865 authorizing the enlistment of slaves. Although now General of The Confederate Army, Robert E. Lee suggested that such service should result in emancipation. It was not promised.

Richmond, Va., March 23, 1865.


  1. The following act of Congress and regulations are published for the information and direction of all concerned:

AN ACT to increase the military force of the Confederate States.

The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That, in order to provide additional forces to repel invasion, maintain the rightful possession of the Confederate States, secure their independence, and preserve their institutions, the President be, and he is hereby, authorized to ask for and accept from the owners of slaves, the services of such number of able-bodied negro men as he may deem expedient, for and during the war, to perform military service in whatever capacity he may direct.

SEC 2. That the General-in-Chief be authorized to organize the said slaves into companies, battalions, regiments, and brigades, under such rules and regulations as the Secretary of War may prescribe, and to be commanded by such officers as the President may appoint.

SEC 3. That while employed in the service the said troops shall receive the same rations, clothing, and compensation as are allowed to other troops in the same branch of the service.

SEC 4. 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 to be raised from such classes of the population, irrespective of color, in each State, as the proper authorities thereof may determine: Provided, That not more than twenty-five per cent. of the male slaves between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, in any State, shall be called for under the provisions of this act.

SEC 5. That nothing in this act shall be construed to authorize a change in the relation which the said slaves shall bear toward their owners, except by consent of the owners and of the States in which they may reside, and in pursuance of the laws thereof.

Approved March 13, 1865.

  1. The recruiting service under this act will be conducted under the supervision of the Adjutant and Inspector General, according to the regulations for the recruiting service of the Regular Army, in so far as they are applicable, and except when special directions may be given by the War Department.

III. There will be assigned or appointed for each State an officer who will be charged with the collection, enrollment, and disposition of all the recruits that may be obtained under the first section of this act. One or more general depots will be established in each State and announced in orders, and a suitable number of officers will be detailed for duty in the staff departments at the depots. There will be assigned at each general depot a quartermaster, commissary, and surgeon, and the headquarters of the superintendent will be at the principal depot in the State. The proper officers to aid the superintendent in enlisting, mustering, and organizing the recruits will be assigned by orders from this office or by the General-in-Chief.

  1. The enlistment of colored persons under this act will be made upon printed forms, to be furnished for the purpose, similar to those established for the regular service. They will be executed in duplicate, one copy to be returned to this office for file. No slave will be accepted as a recruit unless with his own consent and with the approbation of his master by a written instrument conferring, as far as he may, the rights of a freedman, and which will be filed with the superintendent. The enlistments will be made for the war, and the effect of the enlistment will be to place the slave in the military service conformably to this act. The recruits will be organized at the camps in squads and companies, and will be subject to the order of the General-in-Chief under the second section of this act.
  2. The superintendent in each State will cause a report to be made on the first Monday of every month showing the expenses of the previous month, the number of recruits at the various depots in the State, the number that has been sent away, and the destination of each. His report will show the names of all the slaves recruited, with their age, description, and the names of their masters. One copy will be sent to the General-in-Chief and one to the adjutant and Inspector General.
  3. The appointment of officers to the companies to be formed of the recruits aforesaid will be made by the President.

VII. To facilitate the raising of volunteer companies, officers recruiting therefor are authorized to muster their men into service as soon as enrolled. As soon as enrolled and mustered, the men will be sent, with descriptive lists, to the depots of rendezvous, at which they will be instructed until assigned for service in the field. When the organization of any company remains incomplete at the expiration of the time specified for its organization, the companies or detachments already mustered into service will be assigned to other organizations at the discretion of the General-in-Chief.

VIII. It is not the intention of the President to grant any authority for raising regiments or brigades. The only organizations to be perfected at the depots or camps of instructions are those of companies and (in exceptional cases where the slaves are of one estate) of battalions consisting of four companies, and the only authority to be issued will be for the raising of companies or the aforesaid special battalions of four companies. All larger organizations will be left for future action as experience may determine.

  1. All officers who may be employed in the recruiting service, under the provisions of this act, or who may be appointed to the command of troops raised under it, or who may hold any staff appointment in connection with them, are enjoined to a provident, considerate, and humane attention to whatever concerns the health, comfort, instruction, and discipline of those troops, and to the uniform observance of kindness, forbearance, and indulgence to their treatment of them, and especially that they will protect them from injustice and oppression.

By order:

  1. COOPER,    
    Adjutant and Inspector General.

Ref: U.S. War Department, The War of the Rebellion: A Compendium of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, 128 vols. (Washington, 1880-1901), ser. 4, vol. 3, pp. 1161-62.

Early Reconstruction (Wartime Reconstruction)

The question of whom or what group would control reconstruction arose as the forces of the North began to meet with success on the battlefields. What would be involved? What acts would be taken by the North to be granted to the South? Lincoln wanted to control the process through presidential proclamations, pardons and Executive Orders. Congress wanted to control the process through legislation.

During the summer of 1863, President Lincoln began to formulate plans and those plans were presented in December of that year. The Power of Presidential Pardon was the basis of his plan.

The executive authority is given to the president of the United States by Article II of the Constitution to carry out the duties of the office.

Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution provides that the “executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States,” making the president the head of the Executive Branch of the federal government. Sections 2 and 3 enumerate specific powers granted to the president, which include the authority to appoint judges, ambassadors, and other high-ranking government officials; Veto legislation; call Congress into special session; grant pardons; issue proclamations and orders; administer the law; and serve as commander in chief of the armed forces.

Article II gives the president authority to recommend measures for congressional consideration. Pursuant to this authority, presidents submit budgets, propose bills, and recommend other action to be taken by Congress.

Under the powers of this Article Lincoln issued a Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction



WHEREAS, in and by the Constitution of the United States, it is provided that the President “shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment;” and

Whereas, a rebellion now exists whereby the loyal state governments of several states have for a long time been subverted, and many persons have committed, and are now guilty of, treason against the United States; and

Whereas, with reference to said rebellion and treason, laws have been enacted by congress, declaring forfeitures and confiscation of property and liberation of slaves, all upon terms and conditions therein stated, and also declaring that the President was thereby authorized at any time thereafter, by proclamation, to extend to persons who may have participated in the existing rebellion, in any state or part thereof, pardon and amnesty, with such exceptions and at such times and on such conditions as he may deem expedient for the public welfare; and

Whereas, the congressional declaration for limited and conditional pardon accords with well-established judicial exposition of the pardoning power; and

Whereas, with reference to said rebellion, the President of the United States has issued several proclamations, with provisions in regard to the liberation of slaves; and

Whereas, it is now desired by some persons heretofore engaged in said rebellion to resume their allegiance to the United States, and to re-inaugurate loyal state governments within and for their respective states: Therefore—

I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States, do proclaim, declare, and make known to all persons who have, directly or by implication, participated in the existing rebellion, except as hereinafter excepted, that a full pardon is hereby granted to them and each of them, with restoration of all rights of property, except as to slaves, and in property cases where rights of third parties shall have intervened, and upon the condition that every such person shall take and subscribe an oath, and thenceforward keep and maintain said oath inviolate; and which oath shall be registered for permanent preservation, and shall be of the tenor and effect following, to wit:—

“I,                  , do solemnly swear, in presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all acts of congress passed during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves, so long and so far as not repealed, modified, or held void by congress, or by decision of the supreme court; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion having reference to slaves, so long and so far as not modified or declared void by decision of the supreme court. So help me God.”

The persons excepted from the benefits of the foregoing provisions are all who are, or shall have been, civil or diplomatic officers or agents of the so-called Confederate government; all who have left judicial stations under the United States to aid the rebellion; all who are, or shall have been, military or naval officers of said so-called Confederate government above the rank of colonel in the army or of lieutenant in the navy; all who left seats in the United States congress to aid the rebellion; all who resigned commissions in the army or navy of the United States and afterwards aided the rebellion; and all who have engaged in any way in treating colored persons, or white persons in charge of such, otherwise than lawfully as prisoners of war, and which persons may have been found in the United States service as soldiers, seamen, or in any other capacity.

And I do further proclaim, declare, and make known that whenever, in any of the States of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina, a number of persons, not less than one tenth in number of the votes cast in such state at the presidential election of the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty, each having taken the oath aforesaid, and not having since violated it, and being a qualified voter by the election law of the state existing immediately before the so-called act of secession, and excluding all others, shall re-establish a state government which shall be republican, and in nowise contravening said oath, such shall be recognized as the true government of the state, and the state shall receive thereunder the benefits of the constitutional provision which declares that “the United States shall guaranty to every state in this Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or the executive, (when the legislature cannot be convened,) against domestic violence.”

And I do further proclaim, declare, and make known that any provision which may be adopted by such state government in relation to the freed people of such state, which shall recognize and declare their permanent freedom, provide for their education, and which may yet be consistent as a temporary arrangement with their present condition as a laboring, landless, and homeless class, will not be objected to by the National Executive.

And it is suggested as not improper that, in constructing a loyal state government in any state, the name of the state, the boundary, the subdivisions, the constitution, and the general code of laws, as before the rebellion, be maintained, subject only to the modifications made necessary by the conditions hereinbefore stated, and such others, if any, not contravening said conditions, and which may be deemed expedient by those framing the new state government.

To avoid misunderstanding, it may be proper to say that this proclamation, so far as it relates to state governments, has no reference to states wherein loyal state governments have all the while been maintained. And, for the same reason, it may be proper to further say, that whether members sent to congress from any state shall be admitted to seats constitutionally rests exclusively with the respective houses, and not to any extent with the Executive. And still further, that this proclamation is intended to present the people of the states wherein the national authority has been suspended, and loyal state governments have been subverted, a mode in and by which the national authority and loyal state governments may be reëstablished within said states, or in any of them; and while the mode presented is the best the Executive can suggest, with his present impressions, it must not be understood that no other possible mode would be acceptable.

Given under my hand at the city of Washington the eighth day of December, A.D. one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-eighth.


By the President:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

Ref.: U.S., Statutes at Large, Treaties, and Proclamations of the United States of America, vol. 13 (Boston, 1866), pp. 737-39.

Brief Explanation:

  • Swear allegiance to the United States – full pardon
  • Swear to accept all laws of the United States re: slavery and emancipation; offered to general population. High level civilian officials and high level military officers not covered by this amnesty.
  • Would go into effect when 10% (based on the 1863 population) accepted the Proclamation. At such time the State could establish a government.
  • States would be allowed to establish labor laws.
  • Confiscated property except slaves would be returned to their owners.
  • The plan applied immediately to areas under Union Military control in December 1863. Large parts of Louisiana and Arkansas, key areas of Virginia and Mississippi, and most of Tennessee, qualified.

Under the proclamation there would be some states who would be immediate losers, but Lincoln hoped that many members of the old Whig Party would accept the program. The Radical Republicans were not happy with this proclamation. They wanted a better deal for the freed people, suggesting that they should be given land. They also opposed the general leniency for the general population and wanted the percentage raised above the 10% level. According to them the South was guilty of treason and should be more severely punished in the areas of property holdings and political rights. That would include a better deal for slaves and harsher punishment for slave owners. They thought the South should be recast in the image of the free-labor North.

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