Pursuit of Freedom with Audrey Davis

On May 23, 1863, Shepard Mallory, Frank Baker, and James Townsend, three enslaved men, arrived at Fort Monroe, Virginia, seeking freedom. The men were met by U.S. Army General Benjamin Franklin Butler who commanded the fort. Butler refused the request by a Confederate colonel demanding their return and labeled the freedom seekers as contraband – property to be used by the enemy against the Union. Following Butler’s decision, thousands of enslaved African Americans flocked to Fort Monroe and other U.S. Army camps throughout the south in the pursuit of freedom.


The actions of Mallory, Baker, Townsend, and Butler in addition to the thousands of formerly enslaved men, women, and children seeking emancipation transformed the Civil War from a conflict between the states into a struggle for freedom. In this History Talk, explore the events that transpired at Fort Monroe and its impact on the U.S. Army.


Register for the VIRTUAL History Talk on April 5 at 12 p.m. ET


Register for the IN-PERSON History Talk on April 5 at 12 p.m. ET

April 5, 2023 @ 12:00
12:00 pm — 12:45 pm (45′)

ELC, Virtual (Zoom)