Timeline

1863

May 1st, 1863

Confederate Congress Authorizes Enslavement or Execution of Black Troops

On December 24, 1862, Confederate President Jefferson Davis issued orders to the Confederate Army "that all negro slaves captured in arms be at once delivered over to the executive authorities of the respective States to which they belong, to be dealt with according to the law of said States." A joint resolution adopted by the Confederate Congress and signed by Mr. Davis on May 1, 1863, adjusted this policy to provide that all "negroes or mulattoes, slave or free, taken in arms should be turned over to the authorities in the state in which they were captured and that their officers would be tried by Confederate military tribunals for inciting insurrection and be subject, at the discretion of the court and the president, to the death penalty."

The treatment of African Americans in Confederate custody varied, depending on location and the capturing commander but atrocities committed against black troops during the Civil War, such as the massacre of surrendering black troops at Fort Pillow, Tennessee, have been well documented.