In late July 1863 President Abraham Lincoln continued to set Union wartime policy. In a letter to Union General Henry Halleck Lincoln confided that he now opposed “pressing” George Meade to immediately engage Lee’s secure army at Culpeper, Virginia.
In a separate action Lincoln issued orders that his administration would “give the same protection to all its soldiers, and if the enemy shall sell or enslave anyone because of his color, the offense shall be punished by retaliation upon the enemy’s prisoners in our possession.”
Lincoln apparently had learned about retaliation by Confederates against Negro Union troops, especially during the Union siege against Fort Wagner and Confederate held, Charlestown, South Carolina. As harsh as the threat of retaliation was, Lincoln felt compelled to protect all Union troops regardless of their race.