According to the war correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, there was a "stampede" that began around New Year's Eve in 1862 with " hundreds of negroes are nightly lessening the slave power of those few counties of Eastern Virginia" where he was then stationed with the Army of the Potomac. The reporter claimed that "At least two-fifths of the slaves escaped when our army was here last year, and about one-half of the remainder were sold to the far South, immediately after; leaving about three-tenths of the 400,000 slaves ... who will be immediately benefitted by the President's proclamation." The correspondent (presumably George Upton), was remarkably perceptive about the practical meaning of Emancipation. He wrote, "In truth, the passage of a Union army through the country, with free communication North, is the one thing needed to give freedom to the slaves, and the President's proclamation can only legalize the operation, and perhaps make it more sweeping."
Thursday, January 1, 1863
Escape Numbers Comment
"hundreds of negroes are nightly lessening the slave power of those few counties of Eastern Virginia"