On March 13, the Confederate Congress, after much delay and debate, finally sent to President Jefferson Davis a measure calling for putting Negroes in the Army. Davis immediately signed the measure. He was authorized to call upon all slave owners to volunteer use of their slaves. It was generally understood, although not specifically stated, that any slaves who fought for the Confederacy would be granted their freedom by action of the states.
The law was too late to be of much value. A few troops were raised and training began. Late in march, the first Negro soldiers were seen in Richmond.