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Trail To Freedom

In the spring and summer of 1862, as many as 10,000 slaves crossed the Rappahannock River to freedom. The Trail To Freedom retraces their route.

Many enslaved persons saw the arrival of the Union army in Stafford, opposite Fredericksburg, in April 1862 as a chance for freedom. During the Union occupation that spring and summer, enslaved persons from the region streamed into Union lines. It was likely the largest single exodus of enslaved persons in America up to that time. This mass act of self-emancipation launched former enslaved persons on an uncertain journey. Some took paid jobs as camp workers in the Union army. Thousands more moved northward by foot, wagon, and rail, most of them boarding steamboats at Aquia Landing, bound for Alexandria and Washington, D.C.

Follow them, read their words, and hear their stories along their Trail To Freedom. This tour consists of part walking tour and part driving tour.  For maps and other details, visit, or call the Fredericksburg Visitor Center 540-373-1776.

Trail to Freedom
Contact Trail To Freedom
(540) 373-1776
Begin your tour at 900 Princess Anne St., Fredericksburg, Virginia 22401