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[726] against all claims on the part of their owners. But by what proof, by what kind of inquiry, could this distinction between refugees be made? and if such were possible, how could the army be made to practice it? If two slaves came together to seek the protection of its flag, how could it receive one and surrender the other? It was decided that all fugitives should be protected alike, and that, being registered as laborers on a special roll, they should wait until the end of the war for their owners to come and claim them if they had still the right to do so.

The generals had nothing to do but to conscientiously obey these instructions; they all did so, whatever may have been their political opinions, with the exception of Fremont. In the first volume we spoke of the proclamation of August 31st, in which, disregarding the authority of his chiefs and his duty as a soldier, he decreed among other measures the immediate enfranchisement of all slaves belonging to citizens of Missouri who had shown themselves hostile to the Federal troops. Fremont having refused to modify his proclamation in what related to the treatment of slaves so as to render it conformable to the provisions of the law of August 6th, as requested by Mr. Lincoln, the President, in an order dated September 11th, declared it null.

A month later the government had another opportunity to make known its views upon the same question, and readily availed itself of it to take a new step in the policy it had adopted. The naval expedition to Port Royal, under Commodore Dupont, was getting ready; in landing at the Sea Islands in the midst of an almost exclusively black population, it was to be expected that the slaves, abandoned by their masters, would fall to the care of the Federal authorities. In this anticipation the Secretary of War, on the 19th of October, forwarded special instructions to General Sherman, who was to command the land-forces. After recapitulating the instructions he had given to General Butler, and the principles which had prompted them, he added, as a new matter, that if it should be deemed necessary the refugees might be organized into squads and companies. Although he took care to add that such a measure did not imply the general arming of fugitives, it was evidently intended to open the way for such an event. From the moment that slaves who had fled from owners

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