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At the beginning of the Civil War, if a slave ran away and wandered into a Union camp, the ³property² was to be returned to its rightful owner. When three slaves escaped to the Virginia Union lines of General Benjamin Butler, their angry master demanded their return. Butler turned the indignant planter down and explained to Washington that the slaves were ³contraband of war², like any other property helpful to the enemy cause, and should be returned only if their owner took an oath of loyalty. With reference to the Fugitive Slave Act, Butler replied that ³the Fugitive Slave Act did not effect a foreign country, which Virginia claimed to be, and she must reckon it one of the infelicities of her position that in so far at least she was taken at her word.²