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Oliver Otis Howard, Autobiography of Oliver Otis Howard, major general , United States army : volume 2, Chapter 46: negro conditions during the Civil War (search)
reprimanded. Still, by these antislavery officers and many others on our extended lines, the escaping slaves were never returned to bondage, and when within our lines were treated humanely. General B. F. Butler's shrewd experiments at Fort Monroe and Hampton greatly helped the whole observing army. A Confederate officer, Colonel Charles Mallory, sent an agent from Norfolk to Butler for the purpose of recovering three escaped slaves. Butler refused to give them up. In the interview, May 23, 1861, he said to the agent: The question is simply whether they shall be used for or against the Government of the United States. I shall hold these negroes as contraband of war. After that action the slaves northward bound who crossed our lines, were denominated contrabands. They were in many places organized into camps and the able-bodied employed in army work. Our armies, made up mostly of volunteers, could not help at any time being participants, more or less pronounced, in the c