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Freed People in Eastern North Carolina


Freed People in Eastern North Carolina


Over 10,000 enslaved persons seeking freedom fled to eastern North Carolina, primarily to New Bern and Roanoke Island, after the region was captured by Union troops in 1862. Once behind Union lines these African Americans supported the U.S. war effort, earning their first wages as free people. Men did work like building earthworks, serving on steam ships, scouting, and spying on the Confederate army. Women and children staffed hospitals or cooked and cleaned for Union troops. New Bern soon became a hub of African American political and cultural organization. (Link 2009, 202-06) African Americans withdrew their support from the Confederacy and offered it to the Union, a key component of Union victory. (Berlin 1992, 1)


Link, William A. North Carolina: Change and Tradition in a Southern State. Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson Inc., 2009.

Berlin, Ira. Slaves No More: Three Essays on Emancipation and the Civil War. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1992.


Jessica Cochran


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Jessica Cochran, Freed People in Eastern North Carolina, Civil War Era NC, accessed February 25, 2024,