These colored forces were called “contrabands”.
Early in the war, enslaved men and women began offering to fight for the Union forces. In August (1861), the US Congress passed the Confiscation Act of 1861 making legal the status of runaway slaves. It declared that any “property” used by the Confederate military, which included enslaved people, could be confiscated by Union forces. To further strengthen this Act, Congress passed a law in March 1862 prohibiting the return of slaves.
On April 13, 1864 this Vancouver Island committee sent a donation with a letter to the then vice-president of the United States, Hannibal Hamlin.
”… and though many miles divide us from those who have the burden to bear in this great struggle for human liberty, our hearts are with you unto death.”