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Weekend to note slavery, freedom and bloodshed
Emancipation Proclamation forum tonight at UMW, slave-crossing commemoration Saturday in Fauquier, Yankees (and Confederates in Falmouth all weekend

 Formerly enslaved African-Americans (center), with an oxcart, encounter U.S. troops on the Rappahannock in 1862, an event to be honored Saturday morning near Remington.
Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 9/21/2012


It's going to be a big weekend locally for people interested in freedom and the Civil War.

At 7 this evening, the University of Mary Washington will host four of the nation's leading Civil War scholars for an informal "fireside chat" about the Emancipation Proclamation.

President Abraham Lincoln announced his preliminary proclamation 150 years ago today, offering the states in rebellion 100 days to renounce secession.

The UMW event, sponsored by Virginia's Civil War sesquicentennial commission, will feature three top historians on Lincoln, emancipation and slavery.

TV broadcaster Lynwood "Woody" Evans will lead a live-tweeted conversation in George Washington Hall's Dodd Auditorium on the University of Mary Washington's Fredericksburg campus.

Howard University historian Edna Greene Medford, Lincoln biographer Harold Holzer and Frank Williams, chair of the Lincoln Forum, will offer different perspectives on the Lincoln administration's shifting war aims. James I. "Bud" Robertson Jr., history professor emeritus at Virginia Tech, will kick off the program.


Saturday, from 9 a.m. to noon, the public is invited to "Crossing the Rappahannock: A Pilgrimage to Freedom," a commemoration of self-emancipation by enslaved African-Americans in Culpeper County who forded the Rappahannock River in 1862 to follow the Union army. The unprecedented regional event, which has drawn state and national support, will note Lincoln's issuance of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862.

The ceremonies, at Cow Ford and Tinpot Run on the Rappahannock River near Remington, will also honor a world-famous photo taken there of black people from Culpeper crossing the ford to an uncertain future four months before Lincoln signed the proclamation.

Historians Clark B. Hall, Dianne Swann-Wright and John Hennessy, with Virginia Deputy Secretary of Natural Resources Anthony Moore, will analyze what O'Sullivan's image represents. The River Bank Choir will sing, some participants will re-create the crossing, and the names of Culpeper-born men who enlisted with the United States Colored Troops will be read.

"Imagine the faith, will and courage that fueled this remarkable quest for freedom," event organizer Zann Nelson said. "At a time when friends, neighbors and people around the world are searching for hope and inspiration, could this celebration be more appropriate?"

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