As you know, I live near Washington D.C. which is full of history! I recently discovered a historic site in my local area that I think is worth a post, the Contrabands and Freedman Cemetery Memorial in Alexandria, VA.
During the Civil War, there were many slaves that fled to Alexandria for freedom and a better way of life. There were so many freedmen (called contrabands) moving to this area because of the Union occupation, that it created a refugee crisis. Many arrived destitute, in ill-health, and hungry. Initially, the government placed the contraband in barracks, but disease ran rampant and many died.
In 1864, after hundreds had perished, the Superintendent of Contrabands ordered that a property on the southern edge of town, across from the Catholic cemetery, be confiscated for use as a cemetery.
In the first year, burials included those of black soldiers, but African-American troops recuperating in Alexandria’s hospitals demanded that blacks be given the honor of burial in the Soldiers’ Cemetery, now Alexandria National Cemetery. The soldiers’ graves were disinterred and moved to the military cemetery in January 1865. The last burial in Contrabands and Freedmen Cemetery took place in January 1869. (Source: Contrabands and Freedmen Memorial)