Slave Stampedes on the Kentucky Borderlands

OVERVIEW

According to newspaper reports from the time period, there were at least fifty attempted slave stampedes from Kentucky, beginning in 1847 and continuing through the end of the Civil War.  Perhaps the most notable mass movement of enslaved freedom seekers occurred in 1864 outside of Camp Nelson, which was a "contraband" or Black refugee camp near Lexington.  Over the span of just a couple of months, nearly three thousand enslaved people deluged Camp Nelson, with hundreds of men offering their military service as a way to ensure liberation for their families.  Beginning in September 2022, we have initiated a second phase of the Slave Stampedes on the Southern Borderlands project that will focus on detailing and preserving information about these various attempted group escapes from Kentucky.

 

OUR TEAM

DIRECTOR:  Matthew Pinsker (House Divided) is a Professor of History and Pohanka Chair for Civil War History at Dickinson College, where he also serves as Director of the House Divided Project. Pinsker graduated from Harvard College and received a D.Phil. degree in Modern History from the University of Oxford.  He has held visiting fellowships with the New America Foundation in Washington, DC, the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA, and the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. He is the author of two books and numerous articles on Abraham Lincoln and various topics in the Civil War era and the history of slavery.  Pinsker will serve as director and principal investigator (PI) for the slave stampedes project.

 

NPS REPRESENTATIVE (KENTUCKY):  Sheri Jackson is the Southeast Regional Program Manager for the NPS Network to Freedom, based in Atlanta, Georgia.  Jackson has worked for the National Park Service for nearly 30 years, including nearly twenty of those years with the Network to Freedom.  Jackson is currently the ATR for the Slave Stampedes on the Kentucky Borderlands phase of this project.

 

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR:  Cooper Wingert is a PhD student in History at Georgetown University.  He received a BA in History from Dickinson College.  Wingert is the author of ten books on topics in the Civil War, slavery, and the Underground Railroad.

 

SCHOLARLY ADVISORS

Richard J.M. Blackett (Vanderbilt) is the Andrew Jackson Professor of History emeritus at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the author of several books, including The Captive‚Äôs Quest for Freedom: Fugitive Slaves, the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law and the Politics of Freedom (2018) and Samuel Ringgold Ward:  A Life of Struggle (2023). 

 

Eric R. Jackson (Northern Kentucky) is Associate Dean at the College of Arts and Sciences, Northern Kentucky University near Cincinnati, Ohio.  He previously served as Director of the Black Studies program and has taught classes in the fields of American and African American History, Race Relations and Peace Studies. He is the author of numerous publications, including Cincinnati's Underground Railroad (2014), and has most recently served as editor of Full of Faith, Full of Hope: The History and Legacy of the Underground Railroad in Kentucky, forthcoming from University Press of Kentucky (2024).

 

Stephen W. McBride (Camp Nelson) is recently retired from his position as director of interpretation and archaeology at Camp Nelson Civil War Heritage Park in Jessamine County, Kentucky.  McBride holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Michigan State University and has been awarded over 30 state and federal grants for his archaeological research, especially focusing on Civil War encampments and battlefields.

 

Amy Murrell Taylor (Kentucky) is the T. Marshall Hahn Jr. Professor of History at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.  Her latest book, Embattled Freedom: Journeys through the Civil War's Slave Refugee Camps (2018), received multiple national awards including the Frederick Douglass Book Prize given by the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Abolition, and Resistance at Yale University and the Merle Curti Social History Award from the Organization of American Historians. 

 

Nikki Taylor (Howard) is Professor of History and Chair of the Department at Howard University, specializing in 19th century African American History.  She is the author of several books, including Driven Toward Madness: The Fugitive Slave Margaret Garner and Tragedy on the Ohio (2016).  

 

DICKINSON STUDENTS

Interns contributing to this project have included Dickinson College undergraduates Forbes, Charlotte Goodman, and Jordan Schucker, as well as Mechanicsburg Area HS student Gabe Pinsker.

 

RELATED NPS SITES

Camp Nelson National Monument (Nicholasville, KY)

 

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