When Union forces came into the South during the Civil War, enslaved African Americans made immediate movements to make contact with them and escape slavery. Much of this movement took place along the railroads, as blacks joined the U.S.M.R.R. Construction Corps, gathered at depots to sign up for the U.S.C.T., and abandoned their forced labor on Confederate railroad projects. Approximately 135 events concerning black labor on the railroads were recorded or mentioned in the 128-volume digitized Official Records of the Civil War. The highest concentration occurred in Tennessee and Virginia, where black railroad labor became especially significant, but touched nearly every state in the Confederacy.
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