These records cover more than 300 recorded escapes from Missouri --including more than two dozen newspaper-identified stampedes-- during the period between 1840 and 1865. The total number of freedom seekers documented here exceeds 1,500 people, with more than half from the wartime period. Newspaper articles and runaway advertisements provide the sources for these escape episodes. In all cases, we have indicated the proper source citation and in any case involving stampedes, we have also provided the full-text transcription of the actual newspaper coverage.

View All Escapes // 1840s // 1850s // 1860s

Displaying 451 - 474 of 474

An enslaved man named Archer Alexander, a spy for Union military forces, fled slavery in St. Charles county, Missouri, escaping to St. Louis where he found protection from the U.S. army.  Alexander later became immortalized as the model for the liberated ex-slave featured with Abraham Lincoln in the Emancipation Memorial in Washington, DC, sculpted by Thomas Ball and dedicated in 1876 by Frederick Douglass.

Start Date:
Sunday, February 1, 1863
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

In late March 1863, Wash Minter and 20-25 enslaved Missourians escaped from Hannibal, Missouri into Quincy, Illinois.

Start Date:
Friday, March 20, 1863
Numbers:
20
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

On Saturday night, April 11, 1863, three enslaved people, Jerry, Louis, and Nathan, escaped from slaveholder Olly Williams's farm on the St. Charles Rock road outside St. Louis. The three freedom seekers left in Williams's wagon, guided by two mules and packed full with "other property" of their slaveholder. 

Start Date:
Saturday, April 11, 1863
Numbers:
3
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Friday night, April 24, 1863, a group of around 50 enslaved Missourians escaped from Lafayette county, Missouri, bringing with them six wagons, 18 horses and a carriage. Lexington papers reported that the group was among the "not less than three hundred slaves" who had escaped from the county over the preceding three weeks. "These slaves all go to Kansas," a report added. 

Start Date:
Wednesday, April 15, 1863
Numbers:
375
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

Around the beginning of June 1863, a correspondent for the New York Herald reported from Walnut Hills, near Vicksburg, that  "Hundreds of negroes stampeded at the approach of our troops, and followed them into our lines."

Start Date:
Monday, June 1, 1863
Numbers:
100
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

In early June, newspaper reports claimed 60 freedom seekers had fled from multiple slaveholders in Annapolis, Maryland in what they termed "a wholesale stampede." Some of the named slaveholders included Charles Hammond, William Anderson Randolph, and Abraham Woodward. Newspapers reported that the runaways were "supposed to have gone to Washington, D.C."

Start Date:
Tuesday, June 2, 1863
Numbers:
60
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

On Wednesday, July 22, 1863, a group of four enslaved people, a roughly 46-year-old man named Lewis, a 40-year-old woman named Clarissa, a 29-year-old named George, and a 16-year-old named Peter, escaped from Chamois, Missouri. Slaveholder James M. Sholer advertised a $100 reward for their recapture. 

Start Date:
Wednesday, July 22, 1863
Numbers:
4
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown
According to Kansas City newspapers, in August 1863, there was "a perfect stampede" of enslaved families in Platte County.  The accounts estimated that "the negroes are leaving at the rate of thirty or forty a day, and only a few hundred remain."  "The same process is going on all along the border," claimed a report that was soon reprinted in the St. Louis Missouri Democrat,  "and Missouri will soon be rid of her slaves, in fact, if not in name."  The journalist blamed all of this on the "Emancipation Ordinance" because Blacks in Missouri (who were exempt from the proclamation) "cannot draw nice distinctions."   The conclusion was especially telling:  "The barriers which fence in the slave systems in this State are crumbling daily, and while our politicians are talking the negro is quietly acting without any reference to statue books or ordinance."  Another newspaper account from St. Joseph, Missouri, specifically identified Platte County sheriff W.T. "Wash" Woods as the source for the information on the high rate of escaping slaves.
Start Date:
Saturday, August 1, 1863
Numbers:
400
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

In mid September 1863, there were reports that earlier in the month there had been a number of stampeding slaves from around Pikesville, Maryland.  One newspaper noted, "there seems to be a general exodus of them in that portion of the county," adding, "If this state of things continue, and it undoubtedly will, in short time there will not be an able bodied slave in that section of the country."

Start Date:
Tuesday, September 1, 1863
Numbers:
40
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

In early September, the Knoxville Register reported on "a large number of slaves" who had "absconded from different parts of this country our own neighborhood contributing to some extent, to the exodus."  The newspaper glumly concluded: "At the rate at which this thing has been going on for some time past, our country must soon be drained of this species of population."  A Milwaukee newspaper reprinted this story along with the tale of the simultaneous stampede of enslaved Blacks in

Start Date:
Tuesday, September 1, 1863
Numbers:
40
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Monday, September 7, 1863, a reported group of 50 enslaved people "undertook a stampede" from slaveholders in both Anne Arundel and Calvert counties, Maryland.  The group was reportedly heading toward Washington until they were cornered by a local slave patrol.  According to newspaper accounts, "The inferior quality of the stampeders' fire-arms enabled the citizens to capture them after having wounded a number."

Start Date:
Monday, September 7, 1863
Numbers:
50
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Violence, Recapture/Death

On Sunday, September 13, 1863, there were reports that at least 15 enslaved African Americans, including "men, women, and children," from Cedar Point Neck in Charles county, Maryland had escaped.  According to the news account, which was reprinted nationally, the group stole "a large flat-bottomed boat" from a barn, "which they carried to the creek, and thus made their escape."  A Port Tobacco, Maryland newspaper reported that  "not less than fifty negroes from this vicinity have run off" wit

Start Date:
Sunday, September 13, 1863
Numbers:
50
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

Around Sunday or Monday, October 11-12, 1863, there was a "stampede of slaves" in Port Tobacco, Maryland that received attention as far away as Charleston, South Carolina.  The local newspaper originally reported that there was "an exodus of forty or fifty from the neighborhood of Pomonket," adding glumly, "At this rate our county is likely to be entirely drained of available working labor in a very short time."

Start Date:
Sunday, October 11, 1863
Numbers:
50
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Wednesday, October 14, 1863, an enslaved man named Peter Lewis, around 20 years old, escaped from Hamburg in St. Charles county, Missouri. His enslaver, J.D. Hutchison, advertised a $50 reward for Lewis's recapture.

Start Date:
Wednesday, October 14, 1863
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

Around Sunday, November 29, 1863, three enslaved men escaped from the farm of Col. Chiles, near Lexington, Missouri, taking with them "three horses and a wagon and left for Kansas." The Lexington Union reported their escape as part of a wave of "negro stampeding" during the winter of 1863-1864. The three men were reportedly halted by U.S. authorities and placed "in the U.S. service."

Start Date:
Sunday, November 29, 1863
Numbers:
3
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

The family of Archer Alexander, his wife Louisa and children Ellen and James, escaped from Naylor's Station in St. Charles county, rejoining Archer in St. Louis where they obtained protection from the U.S. military. 

Start Date:
Tuesday, December 1, 1863
Numbers:
3
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

On Monday, December 7, 1863, an enslaved woman, who was not named, and her young child, escaped from the home of slaveholder John F. Diers at 71 N. Tenth Street, St. Louis. Diers advertised a reward for their return. 

Start Date:
Monday, December 7, 1863
Numbers:
2
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

In Ray county, Missouri, thirty enslaved people formed a "stampede" to the U.S. recruiting offices and enlisted in the U.S. Colored Troops.

Start Date:
Tuesday, December 15, 1863
Numbers:
30
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Freedom

In early February, about 150 freedom seekers from around Huntsville, Alabama passed through Stevenson in the northern part of the state on their way toward Nashville, Tennessee.

Start Date:
Monday, February 1, 1864
Numbers:
150
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Tuesday night, March 15, 1864, a 11-12 year old enslaved girl named Mimy escaped from the house of slaveholder M.A. McDonnald at 202 N. 6th Street in St. Louis. McDonnald advertised a $25 reward for her recapture.

Start Date:
Tuesday, March 15, 1864
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

In May 1864, various newspapers began reporting on the influx of enslaved families at military recruiting centers across Kentucky.  One Cincinnati newspaper wrote:  "Within a few days the negroes of Kentucky have become impressed with the idea that the road to freedom lies through military service, and there has been a stampede from the farms to the recruiting offices."  By April 1865, the Louisville Journal was writing that "Hundreds and thousands of negroes have been received into

Start Date:
Sunday, May 1, 1864
Numbers:
2000
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

On Friday, July 15, 1864, a 13-year-old enslaved boy named Caley Brant escaped from Washington Hall in St. Louis. His enslaver advertised a $50 reward. 

Start Date:
Friday, July 15, 1864
Numbers:
1
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

Near the end of December 1864, there was a rush of freedom seekers from Richmond, Virginia toward Union lines near the city.  Richmond newspapers reported on the flight and attributed it to rumors that enslaved Black men were about to be impressed into the Confederate army.  The Sentinel wrote:  "A regular panic and stampede has taken place among the negroes of this city.

Start Date:
Saturday, December 17, 1864
Numbers:
50
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Unknown

In early January 1865, Confederate-controlled Montgomery, Alabama experienced a disturbance involving some enslaved Black males who clashed with local authorities.  According to newspaper reports, local police stumbled onto a crowd of Blacks who had taken over a "grog shop" and thereby provoked "a general stampede."  Police managed to arrest "five lusty descendants of Ham," whom they identified as Pero (slaveholder Ousby), Sandy (slaveholder Ashley), Joel (slaveholder Price), Prince (slavehol

Start Date:
Tuesday, January 3, 1865
Numbers:
10
Starting Point:
Outcome:
Mixed