Georgia's Blue and Gray Trail Presents America's Civil War

Blue and Gray Trail
Civil War Encyclopedia
Civil War in Georgia
On the Blue and Gray Trail
Civil War by state
Today in the Civil War
This year in the Civil War
Feature Stories

Civil War Encyclopedia >> Terms
May 24, 1861 Benjamin Butler uses the term "contraband" to describe slaves who have crossed into the Northern camps
  Benjamin Butler
  Civil War Firsts


According to Websters Dictionary a contraband was "An escaped slave during the Civil War who fled to or was taken behind Union lines," but the term "contraband" or "contraband slave" precedes the start of Civil War by almost 100 years. The first use of the term dates back to 1762 in Quaker documents.

During the Civil War the term became the Northern word for slave and was generally applied to slaves who voluntarily crossed into Union lines or were on land captured by the Union army. The term slave was still used when referring to those still controlled by Confederates. The first use of the term during The Civil War is commonly credited to Benjamin Butler.

Links appearing on this page:

Benjamin Butler
The Civil War

Civil War Encyclopedia >> Terms

contraband was last changed on - December 5, 2006
contraband was added on - December 4, 2006

The Blue and Gray Trail | The Civil War in Georgia | On the Blue and Gray Trail
Battles | Places | Events by year | Events by date | Feature Stories |
Bookstore | Links | Who We Are |