begun the organization of a regiment of free colored men for local defense.
resuscitated this organization, for which he thus had the advantage of Confederate example and precedent, and against which the accusation of arming slaves could not be urged.
Early in September, Butler
reported, with his usual biting sarcasm:
I shall also have within ten days a regiment, one thousand strong, of native guards (colored), the darkest of whom will be about the complexion of the late Mr. Webster.
All these efforts were made under implied, rather than expressed provisions of law, and encountered more or less embarrassment in obtaining pay and supplies, because they were not distinctly recognized in the army regulations.
This could not well be done so long as the President
considered the policy premature.
His spirit of caution in this regard was set forth by the Secretary of War
in a letter of instruction dated July 3,1 862:
He is of opinion,
wrote Mr. Stanton
, “that under the laws of Congress, they [the former slaves] cannot be sent back to their masters; that in common humanity they must not be permitted to suffer for want of food, shelter, or other necessaries of life; that to this end they should be provided for by the quartermaster's and commissary's departments, and that those who are capable of labor should be set to work and paid reasonable wages.
In directing this to be done, the President
does not mean, at present, to settle any general rule in respect to slaves or slavery, but simply to provide for the particular case under the circumstances in which it is now presented.”
All this was changed by the final proclamation of emancipation, which authoritatively announced that