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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Stafford in Stafford County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
 

Gateway to Freedom

Trail to Freedom

 
 
Gateway to Freedom Marker image. Click for full size.
By Kevin W., February 19, 2011
1. Gateway to Freedom Marker
Inscription. "I bounded across the Gang plank and concealed Myself for a while until the Steamer got off from the Wharf. I then came out and arrived Safe at 6th Street Wharf in Washington D.C. on the Night of September 1st, 1862 in a hard rain."
—John Washington

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
Pictures on the Gateway to Freedom Marker image. Click for full size.
By Kevin W., February 19, 2011
2. Pictures on the Gateway to Freedom Marker
The top picture is of "Aquia Landing as it appeared in late 1862 early in the Civil War."
The picture was provided for use on the marker by the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.
The second picture is of the, "steamship Keyport, upon which John Washington snuck aboard with evacuating Union troops." The picture of the Keyport was provided for use on the marker by The Mariners' Museum, Newport News, VA.
line of men, women, and children moving north along the [rail]road, carrying all their worldly goods on their heads. Every train running to Aquia was crowded with them…I think it is safe to estimate that the number of contrabands that have passed by this route since we took possession of the road at 10,000."
—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). Touch 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. Steamships, Stages and Slave Trade (here, next to this marker); Early Escape Route (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
Three Trail to Freedom markers are collocated here image. Click for full size.
By Kevin W., February 19, 2011
3. Three Trail to Freedom markers are collocated here
The Gateway to Freedom Marker is the right-most marker in this picture.
away); a different marker also named 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). Touch for a list and map 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 AmericansCivil Rights
 
Acquia Creek. Burnside's Base of Supply image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, April 3, 2011
4. Acquia Creek. Burnside's Base of Supply
Aquia Landing as it appeared in the late 1862 early in the Civil War. (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)
Steamship Keyport image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, April 3, 2011
5. Steamship Keyport
Steamship Keyport, upon which John Washington snuck aboard with evacuating Union troops.( The Mariners' Museum, Newport News, VA.)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on February 6, 2011, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. This page has been viewed 540 times since then and 27 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on February 6, 2011, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.   4, 5. submitted on February 17, 2013, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland.
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