Trail to Freedom

In April 1862, many area slaves saw the arrival of the Union army in Stafford as a chance for freedom.  During the five-month Union occupation, slaves from Stafford, Fredericksburg, and surrounding counties streamed into Union lines.  It was likely the largest single exodus of slaves in America up to that time.  As many as 10,000 slaves crossed the Rappahannock River to freedom.    This self-emancipation launched former slaves on an uncertain journey.  Some took paid jobs as camp workers in the Union army.  Thousands more moved northward by foot, wagon, and rail, many 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.  Walking and driving tours are available along this new trail. Five markers with historic photos and compelling stories are currently erected along the Trail to Freedom .