Nestled at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, Fort Monroe played a pivotal role in ending slavery in America, when it became known as "Freedom's Fortress" during the Civil War.
On May 23, 1861, three enslaved African American men rowed to the fort in search of freedom. Union General Benjamin Butler declared the men “contraband of war,” and refused to return them to slaveholders. More than 10,000 African Americans from the region escaped to Fort Monroe over the course of the war, denying the Confederacy the use of their labor in the production of materials to support the Southern war effort. In addition to its rich history, this site on the Old Point Comfort Peninsula also contains more than two miles of rare undeveloped Chesapeake shoreline with a wide range of recreational opportunities.
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