The Contrabands and Freedman Cemetery at 1001 S. Washington St. in Alexandria, Virginia was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 15, 2012.Before you visit Alexandria, use our trip planner to discover what you can do and see there.
For African American escaped slaves, the military occupation of Alexandria during the American Civil War created opportunity on an unprecedented scale. As Federal troops extended their occupation of the seceded states, escaped slaves flooded into Union-controlled areas. Safely behind Union lines, the cities of Alexandria and Washington offered not only comparative freedom, but employment. Over the course of the war, Alexandria was transformed by the Union occupiers into a major supply depot and transport and hospital center, all under army control. Because the escaped slaves were still legally property until the abolition of slavery, they were labeled as contrabands to prevent their being returned to their masters. Contrabands took positions with the army as construction workers, nurses and hospital stewards, longshoremen, painters, wood cutters, teamsters, laundresses, cooks, gravediggers, personal servants, and ultimately as soldiers and sailors. According to one statistic, the population of Alexandria had exploded to 18,000 by the fall of 1863 – an increase of 10,000 people in 16 months.
As of ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment, Alexandria County’s black population was more than 8,700, or about half the total number of residents in the County. This newly enfranchised constituency provided the support necessary to elect the first black Alexandrians to the City Council and the Virginia Legislature.
Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery Reviews
Provides a narrative for a forgotten story of slaves who'd fled the South during the Civil War and the shameful treatment of their deceased and redeems them with a beautiful and thought-provoking stat... more »
This memorial is dedicated to the African-American men, women and children buried on the grounds in Union-occupied Alexandria. The main feature of the memorial is a sculpture called “The Path of Thorn... more »
On a random walk noticed the Freedmans cemetary. It's an amazing piece of history and culture. Very happy that we saw this place. It's small but the history and reflection provided is worth a visit. They also have a listing of the people buried there and and nice little fact on if their descendants have been found.
It's a sobering reminder of the region's history. It's small but the information presented is well-done.
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