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Johan Steele
Life NRA,SUVCW # 48,Legion 352


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With thanks to M.E. Wolf

Southern Historical Society Papers
1959. New Series, Vol. 14, Old Series, Vol. LII.
2d Confederate Congress--(2d Session)--Friday, February 10, 1865.
[excerpt]
Mr. Oldham rose to correct his colleague. The law referred to did not authorize the President to make these appointments of temporary rank during a recess of Congress.
Mr. Wigfall said whether the President had the authority or not he had done it, and what had been done could be done again. also thought the question of putting negro soldiers into the army--the emancipation of negroes--should be discussed in Congress in open session. It had been said yesterday by the Secretary of State in a publick and well considered speech that our salvation depended upon putting negroes into the army and consequent emancipation. He wished to announce that, in his opinion, the emancipation of the negroes was the destruction of the organism of the country. It was as if the government of England was required by countries at war with her to abolish her landed aristocracy and put into their place a market-house mob.
[excerpt]
Mr. Oldham opposed the resolution. He had prepared a measure which he would bring in in a few days, providing for putting negroes into the army, and he believed that his motion would obviate many of the objections urged against the plan. He also thought the Senate should have full time to consider the important measures yet to be disposed of.
Mr. Semmes opposed a hasty adjournment--mentioning the tax law and several other measures that yet claimed the attention of the Senate.
Mr. Sparrow had been convinced by Mr. Wigfall's remarks that an early adjournment was desirable. No good result could come of the wrangling between Congress and the Executive.
Mr. Maxwell said the Senator (Mr. Oldham) said he would bring in a bill for putting negroes in the army as soldiers. He regarded [it] as a reason why Congress should adjourn to get rid of this question. He would tell the Senator that he could introduce no bill for that purpose that would meet his approval.
Mr. Wigfall said the Senator might say to this question "down," but he could not lay it down.--It had been before the people since it was broached in the President's last message. He was not willing that the proceedings on this question should be smothered in secret session, as they were the other day. The people only knew that a bill to put negroes in the army, as soldiers, had been voted down by the Senate by a vote of 13 to 3. It was right and proper that they should know the arguments that influenced that vote.
After some further discussion Mr. Wigfall's motion to postpone the resolution till Monday week was rejected.
House resolution was considered and lost by a tie vote when Mr. Maxwell entered a motion to reconsider the vote by which the resolution was lost; and thus the question was, for the present, disposed of.

NEGRO SOLDIERS

Mr. Oldham, of Texas, introduced the following bill:
A Bill to provide for raising two hundred thousand negro troops.
Section 1. The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That the President of the Confederate States be and he is hereby authorized to receive into the military service any number of negro troops, not to exceed two hundred thousand.
Section 2. That the President be and he is hereby authorized to assign officers already appointed, or make appointment of officers to raise and command said troops; and the same when raised shall be organized as provided under existing laws.
Section 3. That no negro slave shall be received into the service without the written consent of his owner, and under such regulations as may be prescribed by the Secretary of War to carry into effect this act.
Section 4. That it is hereby declared that Congress does not hereby assume to change the social and political status of the slave population of the States, but leaves the same under the jurisdiction and control of the States to which it belongs.
Mr. Oldham made a short explanation of the bill, and requested its reference to the Military Committee.
Mr. Graham said he thought the sense of the Senate on this measure might as well be tested on the question of reference. He was opposed decidedly to the policy of the employment of negro troops under any circumstances. The Senate had already expressed its sense on the subject. He would vote against the reference.
Mr. Johnson, of Georgia, said he would vote for the reference, but did not choose to be considered as committing himself to its policy. It was a great question, and ought to go into a committee. At the same time he would say that all his present impressions were against the employment of negro troops.
The bill was referred to the Military Committee.
TRANSFERRED TO THE SECRET CALENDAR
Senate bill to amend the law imposing regulations upon the foreign commerce of the Confederate States was taken up, and, on motion of Mr. Watson, of Mississippi, was transferred to the secret calendar.
SUPPLIES FOR THE ARMY--IMPRESSMENT
Senate bill to provide supplies for the army, and to prescribe the mode of making impressments, was taken up and considered.
Mr. Wigfall moved to postpone the bill till Monday, which was agreed to.
REPUTATION EVIDENCE OF DESERTION
The following Senate bill was considered and passed:
A bill to amend an act entitled 'An act to prevent the procuring, aiding and assisting persons to desert from the army of the Confederate States, and for other purposes,' approved January 22d, 1864:
The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That in all prosecutions for aiding or assisting any deserter from the army to evade his proper commander, or to prevent his arrest to be returned to the service, knowingly concealing or harbouring any such deserter, under the provisions of an act to prevent the procuring, aiding and assisting persons to desert from the army of the Confederate States, and for other purposes, approved January 22d, 1864, when the fact is proved that the person aided or assisted or concealed or harboured is a soldier or officer in the military service of the Confederate States, general reputation that such officer or soldier is a deserter, shall be taken prima facie evidence of the fact of desertion.
EXEMPTIONS AND DETAILS
House bill to diminish the number of exemptions and details was taken up and considered.--The first section, which provides for repealing so much of the present exemption law as exempts one person as overseer or agriculturist on each farm or plantation upon which there were, at specified times, fifteen able-bodied field hands, between the ages of 16 and 50, being read,
Mr. Orr, of South Carolina, moved to strike out this section. If it passed it settled the question that, after this year, there would not be food enough produced for the support of the country. His State had taken measures to secure a proper number of overseers. He did not know to what extent the State and Confederate authority might come in conflict, but, indeed, if matters went on as they now seemed to be going, he did not know that there would be much need of overseers in South Carolina. It was unnecessary for him to go at length into this question. The minds of Senators were already made up.
Mr. Graham opposed the bill. No civilized country could put all of its able-bodied men in the field. It might be done by savage nations, who subsisted by hunting. He chiefly objected to the second section, which took from the President and Secretary of War the power of exemption and detail, and revoked all details and exemptions already granted. This seemed to contemplate the carrying but one campaign, and that a very short one. He would vote for the first section. He saw no reason why the owner of fifteen slaves should be exempted any more than the owner of a less number; although his observation was that the owners of the slaves had gone into the war, and that applications for details on this score were made for the purpose of procuring overseers in their places. Still he would be satisfied that the exemption law should stand unchanged.
Mr. Orr's motion to strike out was lost.
Mr. Orr then moved to amend by adding that exemption of persons over forty years of age may be granted under the provisions of the fifteen negro clause. Lost.
Mr. Hunter, of Virginia, moved to amend by adding a provision that persons over forty-five may be exempted under that clause. The amendment was agreed to--ayes 12, noes 8.
Mr. Graham moved to strike out the second section of the bill providing that no exemption or detail shall be granted by the Secretary of War or President, except of persons disabled for field service, persons over forty years, artisans, mechanicks and persons of scientifick skill employed by government, and revoking details and exemptions heretofore granted by the President or Secretary of War.
Mr. Graham's motion to amend gave rise to much interesting discussion, of which our want of space absolutely prevents our giving even a sketch.
Mr. Graham's motion being in abeyance, on motion, by Mr. Sparrow, the section was amended by inserting the word "labourers" before the word "artisan."
After further amendment, on motion, by Mr. Orr, the further consideration of the bill was postponed till Monday.
On motion, by Mr. Oldham, the Senate resolved into secret session.
[excerpt]
EMPLOYMENT OF NEGROES AS SOLDIERS
Mr. Barksdale, of Mississippi, offered a bill "to increase the military force of the Confederate States."
The first section of the bill provides that in order to provide additional forces to repel invasion and to secure the independence of the Confederate States, the President be authorized to ask for and accept from the owners of slaves the services of such number of able-bodied negro men as he may deem expedient to perform military services in whatever capacity the General-in-Chief may direct.
The second section provides that the President be authorized to organize the said slaves into companies, battalions, regiments and brigades, under such rules and regulations as the Secretary of War may prescribe, and to be commanded by such officers as the President may appoint.
The third section provides that while employed in the service, the said slaves shall receive the same rations, clothing and compensation as are allowed in the act approved February 17, 1864, and the acts amendatory thereto "to increase the efficiency of the army by the employment of free negros and slaves in certain capacities;" and the compensation so allowed shall be made to the owner or to the slave, as the owner thereof may elect.
The fourth section of the bill provides that nothing in this act shall be construed to authorize a change in the relation which the said slaves shall bear towards their owners as property, except by consent of the States in which they may reside, and in pursuance of the laws thereof.
Mr. Miles, of South Carolina, moved that the bill be rejected. He wanted to test the sense of the House upon this subject of arming negroes. He wanted to have a vote upon it.
Mr. Marshall, of Kentucky--Yes, let us have a vote on it. Let the country know where we stand.
Mr. Hartridge, of Georgia, asked that the vote on the rejection of the bill be taken by ayes and noes.
Mr. Barksdale moved that the bill be referred to a select committee of one from each State.
After what had been said by the chairman of the Military Committee (Mr. Miles) it was evident that he had prejudged the question. All he (Mr. B.) desired was a fair investigation of the bill, and such a report as its merits and the demands of the country absolutely require. He did not desire to enter upon its discussion now, but would say that he had introduced the bill under a solemn conviction of duty to his country. It raised no irritating issues. It provided simply that the President should accept the services of slaves to be used as the General-in-Chief, General Lee, might direct, in order to save our cause.--Nor did he propose to interfere with the relation of master and slave. That question was left by the bill where it properly belongs--to the owners of slaves, by the consent of the States and in pursuance of the laws thereof. Are gentlemen unwilling to let the people have the privilege of contributing their slaves as a free-will offering to aid in repelling the savage foe, who is the common enemy of both races? The bill provides nothing more.
Mr. Wickham, of Virginia, moved the indefinite postponement of the bill. He was opposed to its going to a select committee. If it went to any committee it should go, in the regular channel, to the Committee on Military Affairs. He wished, however, this question of arming and making soldiers of negroes to be now disposed of, finally and forever. He wished it to be decided whether negroes are to be placed upon an equality by the side of our brave soldiers who have faced the storm of battle for four long years. It were idle to say that if negroes were put into the army they would not be upon an equality with our soldiers. They would be compelled to. They would have to camp and bivouac together.
Mr. Wickham said that our brave soldiers, who have fought so long and nobly, would not stand to be thus placed side by side with negro soldiers. He was opposed to such a measure. The day that such a bill passes Congress sounds the death knell of this Confederacy. The very moment an order goes forth from the War Department authorizing the arming and organizing of negro soldiers there was an eternal end to this struggle.--(Voices--That's so.)
The question being ordered upon the rejection of the bill, it was lost--ayes 21, noes 53. As this vote was regarded as a kind of test of the sense of the House upon the policy of putting negroes into the army, we append the ayes and noes--the question being the rejection of this bill authorizing the employment of negroes as soldiers:
Ayes--Messrs. Baldwin, Branch, Cruikshank, De Jarnette, Fuller, Garland, Gholson, Gilmer, Lamkin, J. M. Leach, J. T. Leach, McMullin, Miles, Miller, Ramsey, Sexton, Smith, of Alabama, Smith, of North Carolina, Wickham, Witherspoon, Mr. Speaker.
Noes--Messrs. Akin, Anderson, Barksdale, Batson, Bell, Blandford, Boyce, Bradley, H. W. Bruce, Carroll, Chambers, Chilton, Clark, Clopton, Cluskey, Conrad, Conrow, Darden, Dickinson, Dupre, Ewing, Farrow, Foster, Funsten, Gaither, Goode, Gray, Hartridge, Hatcher, Hilton, Holder, Holliday, Johnston, Keeble, Lyon, Pugh, Read, Rogers, Russell, Simpson, J. M. Smith, W. E. Smith, Snead, Swan, Triplett, Villere, Welsh.

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