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The fugitives: followers of Pope's retreat Virginia Negroes following Pope's soldiers in their retreat from Cedar Mountain. From the beginning of the war Negroes had been a subject of debate. Even before Bull Run, on May 26, 1861, General B. F. Butler had declared that all fugitive slaves would be considered as contraband of war. Congress, however, decided in August that all slaves confiscated should be held subject to the decision of the United States courts. In April of 1862, General Hunter, at Hilton Head, South Carolina, declared that all slaves in his military department were “forever free,” but a week later Lincoln annulled the proclamation. Hunter, however, raised a storm by organizing a regiment of fugitive slaves. It was only before Cedar Mountain — to be precise, on July 22, 1862--that “all National commanders were ordered to employ as many Negroes as could be used advantageously for military and naval purposes, paying them for their labor and keeping a record as to their ownership as a basis on which compensation could be made in proper cases.” Ten days after the battle, Greeley published his famous letter to Lincoln, “The Prayer of Twenty millions.” On September 22, 1862, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, and on January 1, 1863, the final proclamation was made that “Negroes would be received into the military and naval service of the United States Corps.” This picture was taken about the time Greeley's letter was published — less than two weeks after the battle of Cedar Mountain had been fought.

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