Richmond, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Use of Arms
Richmond Slave Trail
The Freed People in the Tobacco South: 1860-1900, Jeffrey R. Kerr-Ritchie
“Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letters, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pockets, and there is no power on earth which can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship in the United States.”
- Frederick Douglass
As the intensity of the Civil War increased, life for Africans in America and living in Richmond became more and more dire. Not only did they endure wartime hardships such as lack of clothing and food with the rest of the city’s residents, but Africans especially fell under the scrutiny of their neighbors. As the Union troops approached the city, both free and enslaved Africans were viewed as potential insurgents, leading to a heightened fear of a rebellion by the enslaved.
Converting Richmond into the capital of the Confederacy, military engineer General Robert E. Lee, who earned the moniker, the “King of Spades,” worked quickly to prepare the city’s defenses, enlisting both free and enslaved Africans
As the strength of the Confederate forces waned, many military personnel believed that the South’s only chance for victory rested in the hands of the enslaved. However, President Davis opposed this recruitment strategy; by the time he realized its potential the war had nearly ended. In the North, blacks could enlist in Union units only after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Serving on both land and sea, roughly 180,000 formerly enslaved or freed people served in the Union army while countless others fought as navy seamen. The response of Africa’s descendants to President Lincoln’s visit to Richmond on April 4, 1865 signified the fulfillment of emancipation.
Sources: Selden Richardson, Built by Blacks; The National Parks Service — African American Civil War History
Erected 2011 by Richmond Slave Trail Commission. (Marker Number 10.)
Location. Click for map. This marker is on the Richmond Riverfront Canal Walk between S 14th Street and Virginia Street. Marker is in this post office area: Richmond VA 23219, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. African Americans and the Waterfront (within shouting distance of this marker); James River & Kanawha Canal (within shouting distance of this marker); Burnt District (within shouting distance of this marker); Early Shockoe (within shouting distance of this marker); Shockoe Slip (within shouting distance of this marker); George Washington’s Vision (within shouting distance of this marker); Canal Walk / Historic Canals (within shouting distance of this marker); Tobacco District (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line). Click for a list of all markers in Richmond.
Also see . . . Richmond City Council Slave Trail Commission. (Submitted on April 22, 2011, by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia.)
Categories. • Abolition & Underground RR • African Americans • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page has been viewed 434 times since then and 4 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on , by Bernard Fisher of Mechanicsville, Virginia. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.