Freedom Just Around the Corner: Runaway slaves volunteering for the Union Army

National Postal Museum
February 12, 2015
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National Postal Museum

Runaway slaves volunteering for Union army illustrated cover, c. 1861

Early in the Civil War, Union General Benjamin Butler decreed that escaped slaves who reached his station at Fort Monroe would be considered “contraband” and not returned to their owners. Although the idea of black troops is caricatured by these envelopes, nearly 200,000 black men served in the Union forces.

Image: National Postal Museum