Stafford in Stafford County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Gateway to Freedom
Trail to Freedom
During the Civil War, most white Stafford residents greeted the arrival of the Union army in April 1862 with outrage and fear. But many slaves throughout the region rejoiced at the opportunity for freedom. Thousands left their houses, farms, and plantation, heading north toward the Union army.
Some "contrabands" (as the army called them), took jobs with the Union army, often as paid servants to officers. They earned between 25 and 40 cents per day, plus a ration. But for most former slaves, their journey to freedom continued to and culminated a Aquia Landing. Soldiers shepherded them onto steamboats for the short journey up the Potomac to Washington, D.C.
When the Union army evacuated the area in September 1862, a final burst of freedom-seekers flooded Aquia Landing. Among them was Fredericksburg slave John Washington, who slipped aboard the Washington-bound steamer Keyport (above). That spring and summer, as many as 10,000 slaves made the journey into Union lines—to freedom.
…There was a continuous black
—W.W. Wright, Superintendent, U.S. Military Railroad Report, Sept. 17, 1862.
Erected 2011 by Stafford County and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.
Location. 38° 23.372′ N, 77° 18.945′ W. Marker is in Stafford, Virginia, in Stafford County. Marker is on Brooke Road (County Route 608). Click for map. Marker is in Aquia Landing County Park (formerly Aquia-Po Beach Park). Marker is at or near this postal address: 2846 Brooke Rd, Stafford VA 22554, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Early Escape Route (here, next to this marker); Steamships, Stages and Slave Trade (here, next to this marker); Aquia Landing (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Aquia Landing (within shouting distance of this marker); Patawomeck Tribe Village (approx. ¼ mile Aquia Landing (approx. half a mile away); a different marker also named Aquia Landing (approx. 0.6 miles away); Mason's Homestead (approx. 0.6 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Stafford.
Also see . . . Trail to Freedom web site. (Submitted on February 8, 2011, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.)
Categories. • African Americans • Civil Rights •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 493 times since then and 70 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on , by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. 4, 5. submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.