insert middle ad
[[File:pryorbefore and after.jpg|thumbnail|350px|Private Hubbard Pryor of Georgia both as a fugitive slave and U.S. "contraband" soldier, 1864.]]
President Lincoln had no authority under the Constitution to end slavery. Congress; however, took small steps in that direction as early as August 1861 by passing an act that allowed for the seizure of all Confederate property, including slaves. Additionally, slaves who escaped to Union held territories and forts did not have to be returned to their owners and were subsequently labeled, “contrabands.” Further acts were passed that ended slavery in Washington, D.C., forbade Union officers to return slaves who had escaped the South, and authorized the active confiscation of slaves from owners.
The implications to the South were felt most significantly in the economic and logistic realms. Slaves were essentially part of the support system for the southern war machine. In the military they acted as laborers, cooks, and in other auxiliary functions. On the home front, slaves were practically the only males to work the land. The elimination of slave labor resulted in a stark decrease in crop production thus affecting the economic market; not to mention the ability to feed the population. In the military units, for each slave that was lost, an infantry soldier had to be pulled from combat to perform his duties.