Contrabands, Civil War

Posted by Clicksy | Posted in Wiggle Animations | Posted on 03-08-2009

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One of the great things about old photos is often they teach you something you did not know.  For instance, escaped or captured slaves were called “contraband” during the civil war.  It started with a group of slaves at Fort Monroe in Virginia.  They were contracted out by their owners at Sewell’s Point to do work for the confederate army.  They took a skiff to nearby Fort Monroe seeking asylum from Union forces.   Because Virginia had seceded from the union, the commander at Fort Monroe declared that the law of returning slaves no longer applied.  In 1861 the escaped slaves began receiving regular payment from the army for their work.   By the end of 1865 there was a “contraband” city of over 10,000 people outside Fort Monroe.  Though this wasn’t the first time the term “contraband” was used to describe escaped slaves, it was the beginning of it being the popular term.  Below is an animated stereo card, likely of some of the Fort Monroe contraband city’s inhabitants.

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