U.S. Contraband Camps

1861: A group of escaped slaves outside a cabin. Escaped slaves were known as contrabands after the Union General Benjamin Butler (1818 - 1893) announced that any slaves in land controlled by the Union Army would be regarded as contraband property. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

When three escaped slaves showed up at a Union position during the U.S. Civil War, the decision of how to handle the situation fell to Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler. His actions led to a situation for which the government was simply not prepared.

A group of escaped slaves outside a cabin. (Photo by MPI/Getty Images)

Topics in this Podcast: U.S. history, 19th century, slavery, U.S. civil war, American history, black history, racism, what the Civil War was about