President Discusses use of Black Soldiers and Sailors

January 10, 1863

Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton meet with President Lincoln regarding the handling of contrabands – former slaves now behind Union lines.  He is clearly concerned about their safety.   Welles writes in his diary: “ The President sent for Stanton and myself; wished us to consult and do what we could for the employment of the contrabands, and as the Rebels threatened to kill all caught with arms in their hands, to employ them where they would not be liable to be captured. On the ships he thought they were well cared for, and suggested to Stanton that they could perform garrison duty at Memphis, Columbus, and other places and let the soldiers go on more active service.”

President Lincoln writes Tennessee Military Governor Andrew Johnson regarding a Confederate relative of his wife who had been killed in battle: “I presume the remains of Capt. Todd are in the hands of his family friends, & I wish to give no order on the subject. But I do wish your opinion of the effects of the late battles about Murfreesboro, upon the prospects of Tennessee.”

The President wrote the military commander in war-torn Missouri: “I understand there is considerable trouble with the slaves in Missouri. Please do your best to keep peace on the question for two or three weeks, by which time we hope to do something here towards settling the question, in Missouri.”  Because Missouri not technically in rebellion, the Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to slaves in Missouri.  Unionists in Missouri differed sharply on such questions.

Published in: on January 10, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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