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[168] Congress on both subjects, that of confiscation and emancipation, Mr. Lincoln was obliged to modify Fremont's premature proclamation. This he did clearly and cautiously by an executive order prepared and issued by himself.

Again, General J. W. Phelps, at Ship Island, in the winter of 1861 and 1862 issued an emancipation pronunciamento, which brought upon him severe newspaper and other censure. General David Hunter, later, May 9, 1862, from Hilton Head, declared in orders for the States of Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina: “That persons heretofore held as slaves are therefore declared forever free.”

The “therefore” was based on what appeared to him a self-evident proposition: “Slavery and martial law in a free country were altogether incompatible.”

After Hunter's action, President Lincoln again, with evident sorrow,interfered, declaring, in substance, that whether or not it was proper for the Chief Executive to emancipate slaves, that action was at least reserved to himself, an action “which he could not feel justified in leaving to commanders in the field.” Thus General Hunter was 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:

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