Freedom Began Here

Freedom Began Here (HMLN9)

Location: Falmouth, VA 10036 Stafford County
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 19.277', W 77° 28.082'

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Trail to Freedom

"The soldier assured me that I was now a free man?I never would be a slave no more."
- John Washington, a Fredericksburg slave

"Our camps are now flooeded with negroes, with packs on their backs and bound for freedom. No system of abolition could sweep away the system more effectually than does the advance of our army."
- Rufus Dawes, Sixth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, April 1862

On April 18, 1862, advancing Federal forces reached the banks of the Rappahannock River. African-American slaves realized that this armed presence altered their accustomed social controls and many took the initiative to escape bondage. A Fredericksburg slave named John Washington crossed the river to freedom, directly in front of you.

Many former slaves, including Washington, found work with the Union army, as teamsters, cooks, and servants. Others continued their journey elsewhere. By late summer, when the Union force withdrew to campaign in more distant places, at least 10,000 former slaves had moved through Stafford County toward freedom, and an uncertain future.

The Union army returned to Falmouth in November 1862. Though defeated in battle at Fredericksburg that December, the Federal troops remained encamped in Stafford County. When the Emancipation Proclamation took effect in January 1863, another exodus of African-Americans sought freedom through the Northern lines.
HM NumberHMLN9
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, September 21st, 2014 at 3:45am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 284246 N 4244345
Decimal Degrees38.32128333, -77.46803333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 19.277', W 77° 28.082'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 19' 16.62" N, 77° 28' 4.92" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)212, 646, 917, 914
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 200 W 44th St, Falmouth VA 10036, US
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