of disloyal persons [absolutely], and slaves of loyal persons with the consent of their owners,” who were to be paid $300 for each slave so enlisted, upon making proof of ownership and filing a deed of manumission.
Thus the good work went on; until, in December, 1863, tile Bureau aforesaid reported that over 50,000 had been enlisted and were then in actual service; and this number had been trebled before the close of the following year.
And, though some of our Generals
regarded them with disfavor, while others were loud in their praise, it is no longer fairly disputable that they played a very important and useful part in the overthrow of the Rebellion
Though they were hardly allowed to participate in any of the great battles whereby the issue was determined, they bore an honorable part in many minor actions and sieges, especially those of 1864-5.
In docility, in unquestioning obedience to superiors, in local knowledge, in capacity to endure fatigue, in ability to brave exposure and resist climatic or miasmatic perils, they were equal if not superior to the average of our White
troops; in intelligence and tenacity, they were inferior; and no wise General would have counted a corps of them equal, man for man, ill a great, protracted battle, to a like number of our Whites.
Yet there were Black regiments above the average of Whites in merit; and their fighting at Fort Wagner
, Port Hudson
, and some other points, was noticed by their commanders with well deserved commendation.
To exalt them to the disparagement of our White
soldiers would be as unwise as unjust; but those Whites who fought most bravely by their side will be the last to detract from the gratitude wherewith the Republic
fitly honors all her sons who freely offered their lives for the salvation of their country.