Human contraband, Freedom Fighters

In the process of researching images for The Other Madisons, I came across this extraordinary vision of a "contraband soldier". I couldn't resist and purchased the right use this image.


Unfortunately the photo didn’t make it to the final cut of The Other Madisons, but I still feel compelled to share it because it still moves me to see the young man smiling in front of camera, hardly anything to wear, but what he could afford. Still proud, still with a friendly smile because perhaps he knew that I would be looking for him.


I could have just taken a scree shot, but that would't have been right. Regardless, it was a bargain at ten pounds for this precious portraits of he who fought for Freedom on the side of righteousness.



Contraband was a term commonly used in the United States military during the American Civil War to describe a new status for certain escaped slaves or those who affiliated with Union forces. The Army (and the United States Congress) determined that the US would not return escaped slaves who went to Union lines and classified them as contraband. They used many as laborers to support Union efforts and soon began to pay them wages. The former slaves set up camps near Union forces, and the Army helped support and educate both adults and children among the refugees. Thousands of men from these camps enlisted in the United States Colored Troops when recruitment started in 1863. At war's end, more than 100 contraband camps existed in the South. No photographer credited, circa 1862-65.

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