Honoring USCT Nelson Ballard
· Assisted the Union Army’s war efforts towards preserving the Union in
exchange for their freedom.
Resurrected the City of Hampton from the fire of August 7, 1861, which
destroyed the town.
Established and designed “the Grand Contraband Camp” in the heart of what
is now called downtown Hampton.
Named several streets within the Grand Contraband Camp: Grant Street,
Lincoln Street, Union Street, and Liberty Street (now Armistead Avenue).
Established one of the nation’s first self-contained Black Communities
in 1861. Creating businesses, churches, schools, financial institutions
and social order in the new community.
Preserving a Legacy in Hampton: Prelude to Freedom...
The legacy of the Contraband
Slaves speaks of a determined people; a spiritual people who
were forced to adopt a new way of life, new religions, new languages,
and yet were able to use those awkward circumstances and experiences
to elevate themselves to freedom while preserving the Union.
Burning of Hampton: took place on August
7, 1861, to prevent Union reoccupation and the slaves from using
the resources of the town.
United States Colored
United States Colored Troops volunteered
for service in the Union Army. In May of 1863, Lincoln established
the Freedmen’s Bureau. Brigadier General Samuel Chapman Armstrong,
founder of Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute was put in
charge of the Freedmen’s Bureau at Fort Monroe. Shortly thereafter,
Blacks were allowed to enlist in the Union Army. They became known
as The United States Colored Troops, or USCT.
Rev. William Roscoe Davis
Rev. William Roscoe Davis was a former
slave who was put in charge of Contraband because he could read
and write. He was Mary Peake’s brother-in-law.
Mrs. Mary S. Peake
Mary S. Peake was the first Black teacher hired
by, The American Missionary Association to teach the Contrabands.
Prior to that she defied Virginia law to teach slaves to read and
write in Hampton.
Mrs. Mary Smith Peake taught the first classes
to African American children on the grounds of what is now Hampton
University at Hampton Roads in Virginia under the shade of the Emancipation
Major General Butler, realizing the
importance of educating the slaves, established The Butler School
Baptist Church, 1880
Zion Baptist Church on West County Street was founded
by Reverend William Thornton. First Baptist Church of Hampton is
located on King Street at Lincoln Street. It was founded by Contraband
slaves in 1852 and is the first Contraband church. Bethel AME was
established in 1864, Queen Street was established in 1865; these
were also Contraband churches.
Major John B. Cary, Principal of the
Hampton Military Academy, went to Fort Monroe to retrieve the three
slaves under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850; which decreed that
the runaway slaves be returned to their rightful owners.
With General Butler's interpretation of contraband Fort Monroe served
as a haven for thousands of runaway slaves.
The Slaves could not turn back! They
came from Shirley, Friendly, Berkley, Carters Grove, 200 miles out
of North Carolina, parts of Maryland, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Princess
Anne, (now Virginia Beach), Yorktown, Nansemond, Greyson, South
Hampton and many other counties.