President Abraham Lincoln

How the U.S Government Appealed to Black Soldiers During the Civil War

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President Abraham Lincoln issued a decree in January 1863 calling for the enforcement of freedom for colored people recruited to fight for the Union Army during the civil war. The order came after news that when black soldiers were captured by Confederates, they were being treated differently from their white counterparts who were also prisoners of war. Lincoln ordered the protection and equal pay of colored troops and stated the consequences of enslaving black troops.

First, the United States government prohibited and declared that selling or enslaving any captured person on account of his color a relapse into barbarism. The government pledged to give all its soldiers equal protection. Lincoln declared that such acts would be met by man-to-man retaliation. For every person of color enslaved or sold by the enemy, they would retaliate by punishing the enemy’s soldier in their possession. It was declared that for all soldiers killed in violation of war, a rebel soldier would be executed and for every one enslaved, one would be sold into slavery. Rebel soldiers would be placed in hard labor on the public works and would only be released if their soldier was treated well in line with the laws of war. This was so in the case of Orin Brown, William Johnston, Wm Wilson who were captured on the gunboat Isaac Smith and the government took three rebel prisoners from South Carolina as hostages for the three. Additionally, the government appealed to black troops by allowing them to show patriotic service to their country by going to war. By doing their duties they would be bringing honor to their country and demonstrating bravery an act of generosity and self-service. They were putting themselves in hot fights as in the example of the Twentieth Texas Regiment where 300 men went to fight but only 60 came back. Moreover, the US government appealed to black troops by giving them pay and benefits equal to white troops. The State declared that each soldier would receive a $250 cash bounty upon which $75 was given upon arriving at war and the remainder in a few days. They would further receive another $100 making it $350. The troops were also entitled to $13 per month with clothing and rations the same as their white counterparts. The government also made sure that their family would never want while in the service and that wounded soldiers received life pensions.