With over 3,000 events, Visualizing Emancipation presents and organizes a great deal of information about the end of slavery. Here are a few events that students and teachers can use to begin understanding emancipation in the American Civil War.
“He represented himself as Jeff. Davis’ coachman.” William A. Jackson slipped away from his service to the Confederate president in the spring of 1862 to inform Union Gen. Irvin McDowell of Davis’ arguments with Gen. Joseph E. Johnston. According to Jackson, Davis and Johnston had a “heated discussion” about Johnston’s recent decisions, including his retreat from Manassas. Jackson reported on the increasingly poor morale of Confederates, especially Jefferson Davis’ wife Varina.Map this event
“Ten miles of negroes.” Before he went down to Georgia, Gen. William T. Sherman and his troops trekked across Mississippi, from Natchez east to Meridian. Enslaved men, women, and children from surrounding plantations rapidly gathered behind the U.S. columns. The flamboyant officer boasted to his commander of the “swath of desolation” his army cut and the long train of refugees that followed in its wake.Map this event
“Superior to any who has yet come into the lines.” Robert Smalls took charge of the CSS Planter, a Confederate transport ship, piloting it to Union lines and quickly impressing all he met there with his remarkable abilities. Smalls and his formerly enslaved associates were awarded the value of the ship as reimbursement for turning their prize over the United States Navy. Smalls went on to serve a distinguished career in the U.S. Congress.Map this event
“Three negroes…delivered themselves up to my picket guard.” Before any large battles, enslaved men in eastern Virginia began rushing from the farms on which they were held toward Union lines at Fort Monroe. The first three to arrive were owned by Charles K. Mallory, a Colonel in the Confederate army. The Union General Benjamin Butler declared these and other enslaved men and women who arrived in camp “contraband of war,” refusing to return them to their secessionist owners.Map this event