Were African Americans drafted into the Union Army under the procedures detailed in the Militia Act of 1863? (I don't consider substitutes to be draftees.) That is, were they included in the enrollment of able-bodied male citizens declared eligible for conscription?
In Freedom National, James Oakes argues that blacks were eligible (because in the aftermath of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Second Confiscation Act, and Attorney General Bates's opinion that free blacks were citizens and Dred Scott was not legally binding, Congress changed the definition of the militia from "free able-bodied white male citizens" to "able-bodied male citizens") but he doesn't point to any instances of their actually being called up by local draft boards under the act. In an unsourced statement, he says (361), "Within weeks [of passage of the draft law] the Union army began sporadically 'impressing' slaves directly into the army, for with freedom they became citizens and with citizenship came the obligation to military service." But the cart-before-the-horse thinking behind "impressing" slaves into the army to free them in order to draft them sounds to me like the action of a local commander who considered forced labor to be the lot of the black man, whether citizen or slave, and did not constitute implementation of the Militia Act. Certainly it is not how conscripts were enrolled and entered the service, and there still were tens of thousands of free black males between the ages of 20 and 45 in the loyal states who were "eligible." Were any of them drafted?
Peter Knupfer, Michigan State University