African Americans Work For The Union Cause
From the beginning of the Civil War enslaved people "voted with their feet" by walking off their owners' plantations to freedom. As African Americans came to Washington D.C. and found protection behind Union lines and the Defenses of Washington, they also contributed to the Union cause. Learn how former slaves joined in the effort to abolish slavery and support the Union by clicking the links below.
In 1861, Union Major General Benjamin Butler refused to return escaped slaves by declaring them the "contraband of war." The army employed many of them as laborers, and the soldiers called them "contrabands." more...
African American troops, designated United States Colored Troops (USCT), served in the Defenses of Washington. The USCT did not generally garrison the fortifications but worked as laborers. more...
Did You Know?
Fort Reno was the largest of the Defenses of Washington fortifications and supported a dozen heavy guns and a contingent of 3,000 men.