Fredericksburg, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Bound for Freedom
Trail to Freedom
— Jane Beale,
a Fredericksburg Citizen
“I could not begin to express my new born hopes for I felt already like I was certain of my freedom now.”
— John Washington, a Fredericksburg slave
The Civil War spilled into the Rappahannock valley in the spring of 1862. While the main armies campaigned on the Virginia Peninsula, east of Richmond, a Federal force occupied Falmouth, across the river in Stafford County. The arrival of the Union army on April 18th caused an immediate stir.
While most white residents reacted with dismay, many slaves saw opportunity in the resulting chaos. A slave named John Washington made his way to this area. At Ficklenís Mill (the ruins to your left front) he observed soldiers wearing Union blue on the opposite shore of the Rappahannock River.
Washington approached the riverbank and the Federal pickets rowed over in a boat. Washington took the fateful step of crossing the river with them to freedom. As the war continued, thousands of other African-Americans left their homes, seeking their own freedom through
Captions: This sketch shows the area where John Washington crossed the river. The town of Falmouth is on the right. Flicklenís Mill, on the Fredericksburg shore, is on the left. John Washington passed the Woolen Mill (shown by a blue arrow) as he walked out of town toward Falmouth. At Ficklenís Mill (circled in red), he headed toward the river and freedom. This photo of John Washington was taken about ten years after the war.
Erected 2010 by Fredericksburg-Stafford-Spotsylvania Sesquicentennial Committee.
Location. 38° 19.079′ N, 77° 28.196′ W. Marker is in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Marker is on Caroline Street near Forbes Street, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is along the Fredericksburg Heritage Trail. Marker is in this post office area: Fredericksburg VA 22401, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A History of Floods (within shouting distance of this marker); Veterans of Foreign Wars Eternal Flame (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Encounter at the Fall Line (about 700 feet away); Freedom Began Here (approx. ľ mile away); Moncure Daniel Conway Anthony Burns (approx. ľ mile away); Conway House (approx. ľ mile away); Shelton Cottage (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Fredericksburg.
More about this marker. The picture in the upper right of the marker is captioned, "This sketch shows the area where John Washington crossed the river. The town of Falmouth is on the right. Flicklenís Mill, on the Fredericksburg shore, is on the left."
The lower picture in the upper right of the marker shows the path John Washington took to freedom. "John Washington passed the Woolen Mil (shown by a blue arrow) as he walked out of town toward Falmouth. At Ficklenís Mill (circled in red), he headed toward the river and freedom."
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. The Freedom Began Here Marker, across the Rappahannock River at the Historic Port of Falmouth Park.
Categories. • African Americans • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on July 22, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 29, 2010, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 1,042 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos: 1. submitted on June 29, 2010, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. 2. submitted on November 26, 2015, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on June 29, 2010, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Picture of the river bank where slaves crossed on the Trail to Freedom. • Can you help?