Fort Fisher

Fort Fisher
Fort Fisher, NE Bastion. Frank Vizetelly (National Geographic)

Sunday, October 2, 2016

155 Years Ago, September 25, 1861: Welles Decides On What to Do With the "Contrabands"

SEPTEMBER 25TH, 1861:  Secretary of Navy Welles instructed Flag Officer Du Pont, commanding the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron:  "The Department finds it necessary to adopt a regulation with respect to the large and increasing number of persons of color, commonly known as 'contrabands,' now subsisted at the navy yards on on board ships-of-war.

"These can neither be expelled from the service, to which they have resorted, nor can they be maintained unemployed, and it is not proper that they should be compelled to render necessary and regular service without compensation.

"You are therefore authorized, when their services can be made useful. to enlist them for the naval service, under the same forms and regulations as apply to other enlistments.

"They will be allowed, however, no higher rating than 'boys,' at a compensation of ten dollars per month and one ration per day."

Dealing With the Black Question.  --Old B-R'er

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