This timeline of "slave stampedes" from across the nation details nearly 200 attempted group escapes as reported in period newspapers, with the majority coming from the Upper South states of Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and Virginia. According to the existing sources, these stampedes involved nearly 12,000 freedom seekers between 1847 and 1865. Clearly, some of these attempts ended in tragedy, but a surprising number were successful, or least never produced definitive accounts of capture. The few reported stampedes in Northern states typically described alleged fugitive slaves fleeing to avoid rendition under the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law. The map below and the detailed listing underneath provide full access to the various narratives, records, and sources available for understanding these important episodes.

View All Stampedes, 1847-1865 // 1840s // 1850s // 1860s

Displaying 201 - 210 of 210

During the first few weeks of October, a Kentucky slaveholder claimed to some reporters that "a change seems to have come over the spirit of the negroes’ dreams in the Southern counties of that State, and large numbers of them are running off."  The slaveholder then provided a specific illustration of his claim.  "He says that over one hundred and fifty have escaped from one county, and the trouble is increasing."

Start Date:
Thursday, October 1, 1863
Numbers:
150
Starting Point:
Outcomes:
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:
Outcomes:
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:
Outcomes:
Freedom

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:
Outcomes:
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:
Outcomes:
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:
Outcomes:
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:
Outcomes:
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:
Outcomes:
Mixed

Following the adoption of a Confederate conscription law to enroll Black men into their army in March 1865, there were reports of several stampedes by enslaved families in various places to avoid service.  The New York Herald reported on one such stampede in southern Mississippi in mid-April 1865, writing:   "It is said that the attempt on the part of the rebels to carry out the law of their Congress requiring the negro to fight for the enslavement of his race has caused a widespread

Start Date:
Saturday, April 1, 1865
Numbers:
300
Starting Point:
Outcomes:
Unknown

On July 4, 1865, according to Gen. John M. Palmer, the Union commander in charge of Kentucky, the enslaved families of the state expected to be set free.  Since slavery was still legal in the state (and would remain so until the ratification of the 13th Amendment in December), this created great anxiety among white residents.  So General Palmer decided to issue passes to Blacks allowing them to seek employment in Ohio or elsewhere.

Start Date:
Tuesday, July 4, 1865
Numbers:
1000
Starting Point:
Outcomes:
Unknown