|The Militia Act of 1862
July 17, 1862
U. S. Statutes at Large
The Militia Act of 1862
CHAP. CCI.–An Act to amend the Act calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections,
and repel Invasions, approved February twenty-eight, seventeen hundred and ninety-five, and the Acts amendatory
thereof, and for other Purposes.
Sections 1-11 deal with the militia in general.
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SEC. 12. And be it further enacted, That the President be, and he is hereby, authorized to receive into the service of
the United States, for the purpose of constructing entrenchments, or performing camp service or any other labor, or
any military or naval service for which they may be found competent, persons of African descent, and such persons
shall be enrolled and organized under such regulations, not inconsistent with the Constitution and laws, as the
President may prescribe.
SEC. 13. And be it further enacted, That when any man or boy of African descent, who by the laws of any State shall
owe service or labor to any person who, during the present rebellion, has levied war or has borne arms against the
United States, or adhered to their enemies by giving them aid and comfort, shall render any such service as is
provided for in this act, he, his mother and his wife and children, shall forever thereafter be free, any law, usage, or
custom whatsoever to the contrary notwithstanding: Provided, That the mother, wife and children of such man or boy
of African descent shall not be made free by the operation of this act except where such mother, wife or children owe
service or labor to some person who, during the present rebellion, has borne arms against the United States or
adhered to their enemies by giving them aid and comfort.
SEC. 14. And be it further enacted, That the expenses incurred to carry this act into effect shall be paid out of the
general appropriation for the army and volunteers.
SEC. 15. And be it further enacted, That all persons who have been or shall be hereafter enrolled in the service of the
United States under this act shall receive the pay and rations now allowed by law to soldiers, according to their
respective grades: Provided, That persons of African descent, who under this law shall be employed, shall receive ten
dollars per month and one ration, three dollars of which monthly pay may be in clothing.
. . . .
APPROVED, July 17, 1862.
1. President Lincoln was enabled by this law to raise regiments of African Americans.
2. The "forever free" clause was limited to former slaves of rebels and not Unionists thereby excluding most of the
slaves in Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky and Missouri (and the area of western Virginia that would become West
Virginia). It would also exclude the slaves of individuals in Confederate states that could prove that they were
3. Section 15 provided for the pay rates below white soldiers. This would not be resolved for several years until the
Federal government paid back wages and bounty.