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The Retaliatory Act, Confederate Congress, May 1, 1863

Confederate Capitol, Richmond, Virginia, 1865, zoomable image
With the increased recruiting of African-Americans as active service soldiers across the North, the Confederate Congress reacted to what they rightly considered as a fundamental blow to the institution of slavery with a draconian piece of legislation. Citing the dire consequences of an end to slavery and a "servile War," the Retaliatory Act laid down harsh action against black Union soldiers captured in battle, including an instant return to slavery, and the execution of any white officers captured leading black troops, for the crime of "inciting servile insurrection." The measure was strongly condemned in the North and did little to stem the tide of black enlistment in the Union Army. (By John Osborne)


How to Cite This Page: "The Retaliatory Act, Confederate Congress, May 1, 1863," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,