It might be well in case a new call is made to authorize the acceptance of volunteer recruits to serve for two years in old infantry regiments with $100 bounty, or to serve for one year with $50 bounty, as the recruit may desire, and to accept the services of such new infantry organizations for two years as the Governors may desire to undertake to raise within a designated time. New organizations if raised now for one year's service would go out at the most critical season next year if the war continues, and, as heretofore stated, get no U. S. bounty.
For whatever term of service the volunteer may be accepted the case, should be accompanied by an order to draft all the deficiency and hold the men so drafted for three-years" service. This would be an additional inducement to fill quotas by volunteers and thus escape draft.
I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JAMES B. FRY,
WAR DEPARTMENT, SOLICITOR'S OFFICE,
Washington, D. C., May 20, 1864.
Brigadier General JAMES B. FRY,
"If a drafted slave personally desires exemption, will another slave be deemed, by the Secretary of War, an acceptable substitute?"
When a slave of a loyal master in either of the loyal States, having been enrolled as part of the national forces, shall be drafted and mustered into the service of the United States, his master is entitled to a certificate thereof, and thereupon such slave shall be free, and the bounty of $100 shall be paid to the master.
When the slave of such loyal master volunteers in that service his
master is entitled to compensation not exceeding $300; and every such volunteer, on being mustered into service, is entitled to his freedom.
No provision of law has yet been made defining the rights of a slave who, while servitude continues, should be put into the ranks by his owner as a substitute for a drafted slave. Which of the masters or which of the slaves, and whether either of them would be entitled to bounty the statutes do not determine. Whether either of the slaves would be entitled to freedom or their masters to certificates is equally undecided.
Heretofore no person has acted as a soldier in the service of the United States until he has been made a freeman by law. To allow any one to act as a soldier who, while fighting under the flag of his country, could be held as a slave, would produce confusion and uncertainty in regard to the rights of colored soldiers; it would cause dissatisfaction in the Army; it would be opposed to the spirit of the legislation of Congress.
Under these circumstances, in the absence of any statute requiring the acceptance and defining the rights of this peculiar class of substitutes having due regard to the character of the legislation of Congress, which has thus far made the soldier a freeman on entering the