On Thursday, March 26, 1863 the voters of West Virginia approved the gradual emancipation of slaves within that state.
On the same day, President Abraham Lincoln wrote to Tennessee Governor Andrew Johnson, noting: “The colored population is the great available and yet unavailed of, force for restoring the Union. The bare sight of fifty thousand armed, and drilled black soldiers on the banks of the Mississippi, would end the rebellion at once.”
The president’s thought processes had finally reached the point where he was willing to have Negroes employed by the Union military. In truth, the war was nearly two years in duration at this point, and Lincoln wisely understood all too well that Northern victory would be possible only if all possible means were pursued to bring military success.