The Militia Act of 1862, 12 Stat. 597, enacted July 17, 1862, was legislation enacted by the 37th United States Congress during the American Civil War that allowed African-Americans to participate as war laborers and soldiers for the first time since the Militia Act of 1792.
The act created controversy on several fronts. Praised by many abolitionists and black-rights activists as a first step toward equality, it stipulated that the black recruits could be soldiers or of use for manual labor. Although black soldiers proved themselves as reputable soldiers, discrimination in pay and other areas remained widespread. According to the Militia Act of 1862, soldiers of African descent were to receive $10 a month with an additional reduction of three dollars for clothing. Therefore, a black soldier's pay would be almost half as much as the white's wage of $13. Many regiments struggled for equal pay, some refusing any money until June 15, 1864, when Congress vacated that portion of the Militia Act and granted equal pay for all black soldiers.
... 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 ... 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 ... 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 ...
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