What is Militia Act Of 1862?

Legal Definition
The Militia Act of 1862, 12 Stat. 597, enacted July 17, 1862, was legislation enacted by the 37th United States Congress during the American Civil War that allowed African-Americans to participate as war laborers and soldiers for the first time since the Militia Act of 1792.

The act created controversy on several fronts. Praised by many abolitionists activists as a first step toward equality, it stipulated that the black recruits could be soldiers or manual laborers. Although black soldiers proved themselves as reputable soldiers, discrimination in pay and other areas remained widespread. According to the Militia Act of 1862, most soldiers of African descent were to receive $10 a month, with an additional reduction of $3 for clothing. Therefore, a black soldier's pay would be almost half as much as the white's wage of $13. According to historian Eric Foner, however, the difference in pay stemmed from the fact that the legislation envisioned blacks mainly as military laborers freeing up whites for combat. Many regiments struggled for equal pay, some refusing any money until June 15, 1864, when Congress vacated that portion of the Militia Act and granted equal pay for all black soldiers.
-- Wikipedia