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Allegany County
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Contraband in county, 1862

Click on the MEDIA ITEMS below for more information



It is estimated that as many as two thousand fugitive slaves from the Valley of Virginia have crossed the Potomac within the last ten days. This may be an over-estimate, but that the number has been very large cannot be doubted. A majority of them have gone to Pennsylvania, and the remainder remain encamped in the fields of this county. Of these there are some who positively assert that they will return to their masters as soon as they can do so with safety, and that they only left to escape seizure by the rebels. A few had good clothing on and some means, but much the larger number were without either, and presented a squalid appearance. The influx of these contrabands verifies to the very letter the prediction of the Unionists, that the rebellion inaugurated by the Cotton States would in its natural effects materially injure if not wholly destroy the institution of slavery in the Border States; and yet in the face of this fact —so patent to every observer- we have been impudently told that we ought to have sympathized with and given aid and comfort to those States in their efforts to subvert the Federal Government. One of our Chambersburg contemporaries—the Times —thus describes the arrival of “Contrabands” in that town :—

"During the last few days, the roads leading, from the Virginia line to this place have been black with “contrabands,” making their way North. Numbers of them, too, have passed through on the railroad.— They are of all ages, colors, and sizes— from the gray-haired slave, who has passed his days of usefulness to his master, to the infant in arms, from the ebony-hued to the light olive brown—and are of various degrees of intelligence, many of them quick and knowing, others, dull, lazy and stupid. Some of them have passed through, but many are still quartered among the negroes of the town — some of the houses being crowded almost to suffocation.”


Herald of Freedom and Torch Light.


Collection Location:

Slaves, Western Maryland

Western Maryland, 1800-1864

Western Maryland Regional Library
100 South Potomac Street
Hagerstown, Maryland 21740

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