By Alison Brophy Champion
Culpeper Star Exponent
Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012

REMINGTON – The natural setting portrayed in the extraordinary Civil War-era image of fugitive slaves crossing the Rappahannock River from Culpeper into Fauquier remains intact, relatively unchanged from when photographer Timothy O’Sullivan captured it 150 years ago.

Next weekend, the powerful scene shown in the photo, symbolizing the African American people’s pursuit of independence, comes back to life on that very site at a special free event being held on privately owned waterfront land, “Crossing the Rappahannock: A Pilgrimage to Freedom.”

One can only imagine the challenges faced by the slaves crossing near the town of Remington as war waged around them. But risk it they did, attaching themselves to the retreating Union Army as troops crossed at Tinpot Ford, a.k.a. Cow’s Ford, just below the Orange and Alexandria Bridge, visible in the background of O’Sullivan’s photo of Aug. 19, 1862.

“With no promise of emancipation, no money, no job, no knowledge of where they would go beyond crossing the Rappahannock, combined with a preponderance of illiteracy, the endeavor was daunting,” said historian Zann Nelson, co-founder with Howard Lambert of the African American Heritage Alliance, the Culpeper-based organization that is primary sponsor for this coming Saturday’s historic event. Read the rest of the story

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