February 21, 1865: Confederate Senate passes bill to raise black troops

The Louisiana Native Guard
This image shows members of the Louisiana Native Guard, who actually would have been black Confederates early in the war, but the Confederacy wouldn’t take them when they volunteered. Many of them later served the Union after New Orleans fell.

The 13th Amendment

New York Times:

MADISON, Wis., Tuesday, Feb. 21.

The proposed Constitutional Amendment to abolish slavery was ratified by the Legislature of Wisconsin to-day

The Richmond Daily Dispatch reports that the bill to raise black troops has passed the Confederate Senate. This bill, SB 190, is shown below, along with the House counterpart. Both bills leave the question of freeing the slaves who serve up to the individual states.

Negro soldiers — Confirmations.
The Senate bill to raise two hundred thousand negro soldiers will, it is understood, be passed to-day in secret session. It is said a similar bill passed the House of Representatives in secret session yesterday.


[SENATE BILL, No. 190,]
SENATE, February 10, 1865.–Read first and second times, referred to Committee on Military Affairs, and ordered to be printed.
[By Mr. OLDHAM.]
To provide for Raising Two Hundred Thousand Negro Troops.
1 SECTION 1. The Congress of the Confederate States of America
2 do enact, That the President of the Confederate States be
3 and he is hereby authorized to receive into the military service,
4 any number of negro troops not to exceed two hundred thousand.
1 SEC. 2. That the President be and he is authorized, to assign
2 officers already appointed, or make appointments of officers, to
3 raise and command said troops; and the same, when raised,
4 shall be organized as provided under existing laws.
1 SEC. 3. That no negro slave shall be received into the service
2 without the written consent of his owner and under such
3 regulations as may be prescribed by the Secretary of War to
4 carry into effect this act.
1 SEC. 4. That it is hereby declared, that Congress does not
2 hereby assume to change the social and political status of the
3 slave population of the States, but leaves the same under the
4 jurisdiction and control of the States to which it belongs.

H.R. 367

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.]

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