On October 1, 1863, nine months after President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton advised Lincoln that it was a "military necessity in the State of Maryland... for enlisting all persons capable of bearing arms... without regard to color ...." A "colored troops" recruiting station was soon established at Monocacy Junction. Local slave owners received up to $300 for the enlistment of their slaves. Lincoln allowed slaves - who had their owner's consent or who had escaped from owners disloyal to the Union - to enlist in the army. In return the slaves were "forever thereafter... free."
Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button and musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship.
Frederick Douglass, former slave, American abolitionist, author, orator, and statesman