Sunday, September 25, 2011

150 Years Ago -- Naval Contrabands

On Wednesday, September 25, 1861, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles laid out the naval policy on contrabands in a command to Flag Officer Samuel Du Pont, commander of 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 and 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 services 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."
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