This timeline of "slave stampedes" from across the nation includes nearly 200 distinct group escapes specifically documented by newspapers from the first use of the metaphor describing a "grand stampede" from Kentucky in 1847 until its final use (also in Kentucky) in 1865. The timeline covers stampedes from Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, Virginia as well as several other Southern states. And depending on the reliability of contemporary newspaper estimates, these "stampedes" may have involved nearly 12,000 freedom seekers. While outcomes are hard to come by from these newspaper reports --and though many of these stampedes were not successful-- it is still clear that thousands of people escaped to freedom while "stampeding," especially during the wartime period. Finally, there are also some antebellum "slave stampedes" listed here from Northern states --these typically describe accounts of alleged fugitive slaves fleeing Northern cities to avoid rendition under the Fugitive Slave Law.

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

Displaying 201 - 209 of 209

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