On August 16, 1862, the U.S. War Department issued General Orders, No. 109 announcing that President Abraham Lincoln authorized military commanders to seize property in states in rebellion for military purposes. The order also authorized military leaders to employ laborers of African descent for military purposes.
General Orders, No. 109
War Dep’t, Adjutant General’s Office
Washington, August 16, 1862
The following is an order of the President of the United States, dated July 22, 1862:
First. Ordered, That military commanders within the States of Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas, in an orderly manner, seize and use any property, real or personal, which may be necessary or convenient for their several commands as supplies, or for other military purposes; and that while property may be destroyed for proper military objects, none shall be destroyed in wantonness or malice.
Second. That military and naval commanders shall employ as laborers, within and “from said States, so many persons of African descent as can be advantageously used for military and naval purposes, giving them reasonable wages for their labor.
Third, That, as to both property and persons of African descent, accounts shall be kept sufficiently accurate and in detail to show quantities and amounts, and from whom both property and such persons shall have come, as a basis upon which compensation can be made in proper cases; and the several departments of this government shall attend to and perform their appropriate parts toward the execution of these orders.
By Order of the Secretary of War :
E. D. TOWNSEND, Assistant Adjutant General