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?
The Civil War Defenses were generally named after well known Union officers (many deceased during the war). This was not always the case. Fort Williams was first named Fort Traitor because the owner, Samuel Cooper(left), pledged an oath to the Union only to become a Confederate later on in the war.