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Fort Monroe: Freedom's Fortress


Fort Monroe, a Third System fortification built between 1819 and 1834, is located in Hampton, Virginia. The site, approximately 565 acres of ground, includes the 63-acre fortress and is a National Historic Landmark District and on November 1, 2011, portions were declared a National Monument.

Known also as ""Freedom Fortress," it was one of the few Union military installations in the South not occupied by Confederate forces during the Civil War. Perhaps its greatest historic significance is its association with the contraband decision by Fort Monroe commander General Benjamin Butler in May,

1861. On May 23, slaves of Confederate Colonel Charles Mallory contracted out to work on nearby

Confederate fortifications sought refuge at Fort Monroe. Butler refused to return them as stipulated in the

1850 Fugitive Slave Act and declared them "Contraband of War." More refugees soon arrived, overflowing space at the fortress for their shelter. The Grand Contraband Camp was constructed in the Confederate vacated and torched areas of Hampton to accommodate the Contraband and their families. Many of the Contraband were put to work at Fort Monroe in support of Union Army efforts. General Benjamin Butler's Headquarters where he weighed his options, made his decision, and initiated the Army's Contraband Policy is Old Quarters #1.

Visitor Information: Currently open to public.

Location: Fort Monroe, 41 Bernard Rd, Fort Monroe, Fort Monroe, 23651

Website: Fort Monroe: Freedom's Fortress

National Park Unit: Yes

Ownership: Kirsten Talken-Spaulding

Location Type: Site

People/Organizations Associated with the site: Civil War,Contraband