Jane Davis, PhD candidate,Middle Tennessee State University
Taking Freedom into their own hands
As early as 1861, African Americansbegan to flee to Union lines seekingprotection and freedom.
General Benjamin Butler coined
the term “Contraband” for these
refugees in May 1861
African Americans throughout theSouth went in pursuit of Unioncamps. In many cases, they providedinformation about Confederatetroops in exchange for shelter, food,and aid.
Contraband camps wereestablished throughout theSouth and Border States and were managed by acombination of the Army, theU. S. Treasury Department and various private aidorganizations. Some of thelargest concentrations of contraband camps wereestablished along theMississippi River, closely