Twilight of Slavery

Twilight of Slavery (HMXD5)

Location: Amissville, VA 20106 Rappahannock County
Country: United States of America

N 38° 43.14', W 78° 4.03'

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Inscription

"Enlightened" Accommodations No Match for Freedom

The three brick cabins in the field before you are tangible connections to the enslaved people of Rappahannock County before and during the Civil War. Many slaves escaped to Union lines here and elsewhere, and some former bondsmen served in the U.S. Army as the United States Colored Troops following the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863.

In July-August 1862, part of the Union Army of Virginia occupied Rappahannock County and camped on these grounds. Slaves on nearby farms fled especially to Gen. Robert H. Milroy's camp in Woodville. Milroy, known as an abolitionist, put them to work as laborers, cooks, and teamsters (William Payne of Amissville served as a teamster). He formed some of the men into a pioneer (construction) company. The 27th Indiana Infantry organized former slaves into a mock military unit that drilled near Amissville. The next year, Eliza Brown, a slave born on a plantation a mile east of here, became a cook for Union Gen. George A. Custer. Federal soldiers then noted a marked decrease in the number of slaves from 1862, in part because the Confederate government had requisitioned 150 Rappahannock County slaves to labor for the Southern Army.

(Sidebar): The Ben Venue slave cabins are among the most sophisticated examples of such quarters in Virginia. Most housing for slaves consisted of shacks or log cabins with stick-and-mud chimneys and little ventilation. During the antebellum period, however, prosperous owners sometimes constructed more substantial quarters in prominent locations as visible expressions of wealth. By the second half of the 19th century, slaves constituted the largest capital investment in the South next to the land itself. Many owners realized that crude utilitarian dwellings would not enhance the health or productivity of their most highly valued possessions. Better housing did not change the essential character of slavery, however, and many individuals ran away when opportunities arose. The 1860 United States Slave Schedules for Rappahannock County lists 414 fugitives out of 3,120 slaves.

(Sidebar):
African American soldiers with
Rappahannock County connections:

Howard Campbell
22nd U.S. Colored Troops (USCT), buried in Scrabble

Charles Davenport
54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry

Lewis Dixon
5th USCT, resident of Woodville

William Newby
5th USCT, mortally wounded at Petersburg in 1864,
brother of Dangerfield Newby, one of John Brown's
Harper's Ferry raiders, whose ancestral home was
Newby's Crossroads, five miles south

James Arthur Payne
27th USCT, born in Sandy Hook (Huntly)

James Whip
5th Massachusetts Colored Cavalry, lived here at
Gaines Crossroads (Ben Venue) after the war
Details
HM NumberHMXD5
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Tags
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, September 12th, 2014 at 9:49am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 754985 N 4289678
Decimal Degrees38.71900000, -78.06716667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 43.14', W 78° 4.03'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 43' 8.40" N, 78° 4' 1.80" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)540
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 2190 Lee Highway, Amissville VA 20106, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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