Near Amissville in Rappahannock County, Virginia — The American South (Mid-Atlantic)
Twilight of Slavery
“Enlightened” Accommodations No Match for Freedom
In July-August 1862, part of the Union Army of Virginia occupied Rappahannock County and camped on these grounds. Slaves on nearby farms fled especially to Gen. Robert H. Milroy’s camp in Woodville. Milroy, known as an abolitionist, put them to work as laborers, cooks, and teamsters (William Payne of Amissville served as a teamster). He formed some of the men into a pioneer (construction) company. The 27th Indiana Infantry organized former slaves into a mock military unit that drilled near Amissville. The next year, Eliza Brown, a slave born on a plantation a mile east of here, became a cook for Union Gen. George A. Custer. Federal soldiers then noted a marked decrease in the number of slaves from 1862, in part because the Confederate government had requisitioned 150 Rappahannock County slaves
(Sidebar): The Ben Venue slave cabins are among the most sophisticated examples of such quarters in Virginia. Most housing for slaves consisted of shacks or log cabins with stick-and-mud chimneys and little ventilation. During the antebellum period, however, prosperous owners sometimes constructed more substantial quarters in prominent locations as visible expressions of wealth. By the second half of the 19th century, slaves constituted the largest capital investment in the South next to the land itself. Many owners realized that crude utilitarian dwellings would not enhance the health or productivity of their most highly valued possessions. Better housing did not change the essential character of slavery, however, and many individuals ran away when opportunities arose. The 1860 United States Slave Schedules for Rappahannock County lists 414 fugitives out of 3,120 slaves.
Rappahannock County connections:
22nd U.S. Colored Troops (USCT), buried in Scrabble
54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry
5th USCT, resident of Woodville
5th USCT, mortally wounded at Petersburg in 1864,
brother of Dangerfield Newby, one of John Brown’s
Newby’s Crossroads, five miles south
James Arthur Payne
27th USCT, born in Sandy Hook (Huntly)
5th Massachusetts Colored Cavalry, lived here at
Gaines Crossroads (Ben Venue) after the war
Erected by Virginia Civil War Trails.
Marker series. This marker is included in the Virginia Civil War Trails marker series.
Location. 38° 43.14′ N, 78° 4.03′ W. Marker is near Amissville, Virginia, in Rappahannock County. Marker is at the intersection of Lee Highway (U.S. 211) and Richmond Road (Virginia Route 729), on the right when traveling east on Lee Highway. Touch for map. Marker is in the parking lot of Williams Tree Service. Marker is at or near this postal address: 13830 Lee Highway, Amissville VA 20106, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Gaines’s Crossroads (here, next to this marker); Albert Gallatin Willis (approx. 3.6 miles away); Campaign of Second Manassas (approx. 4.1 miles away); Hinson's Ford (approx. 4.2 miles away); Washington, Virginia (approx. 4.3 miles away); A Tale of Two Mills (approx. 4½ miles away); Encounter with Lee (approx. 4.8 miles away); Battle Mountain (approx. 4.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Amissville.
More about this marker. On the upper center of the marker is a sketch captioned Old-style Virginia slave cabin, 1864 -Library of Congress. On the lower center of the marker is a drawing captioned Regimental Colors, 22nd USCT - Library of Congress. On the upper right of the marker is a photo captioned Howard Campbell gravestone Rappahannock Historical Society.
Also see . . .
1. Ben Venue. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form (.pdf) (Submitted on January 17, 2010.)
2. Ben Venue Slave Cabins. Link to photo of slave cabins. (Submitted on January 17, 2010.)
Categories. • African Americans • Antebellum South, US • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on January 17, 2010. This page has been viewed 2,341 times since then and 64 times this year. Last updated on November 12, 2011. Photos: 1, 2. submitted on January 17, 2010. 3. submitted on November 12, 2011. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.