On May 9, 1862, Major General David Hunter, commanding the Department of the South, issued General Orders, No. 11, declaring the slaves in Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida to be forever free.
General Orders No. 11
Headquarters Department of the South
Hilton Head, S.C., May 9, 1862
The three States of Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, comprising the Military Department of the South, having deliberately declared themselves no longer under the protection of the United States of America, and having taken up arms against the said United States, it becomes a military necessity to declare them under martial law. This was accordingly done on the 25th day of April, 1862. Slavery and martial law in a free country are altogether incompatible. The persons in these three States—Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida—heretofore held as slaves, are therefore declared forever free.
Ed. W. Smith