African American Experience
During the Civil War, thousands of African Americans escaping slavery sought refuge behind Union lines in Alexandria. The fugitives found freedom in Alexandria, but also a city under siege. Still, despite rampant disease and deprivation, by the end of the war they had fought for their own liberation and built communities and lives afresh. Learn about the legacy of Alexandria’s contraband community and the amazing story of their lost and rediscovered burial ground at the Alexandria Black History Museum, Freedmen Cemetery, the Archaeology Museum and other historic sites.
Between 1864 and 1869, the Contrabands and Freedmen’s Cemetery served as the burial place for about 1,800 African Americans who fled to Union-occupied Alexandria to escape from bondage.