Become a

Events Calendar

Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Civil War Lecture: Ben Butler and the Contrabands

May 21, 2021 @ 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EDT


Presented by John V. Quarstein, director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center

Advance registration is required.

Join us for a virtual lecture with author and historian John V. Quarstein, director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center. Quarstein will give a presentation on how a Union general’s decision not to return three enslaved men who escaped to Fort Monroe, Va., helped change the principle cause of the Civil War to that of individual freedom. Viewers are welcome to send any comments or questions to John, and he will answer them following his talk.
About the lecture:
When Union general Benjamin Franklin Butler arrived at Fort Monroe, Virginia, he immediately sought to show the Virginians that his troops could go anywhere on the Peninsula. On May 23, 1861, Butler sent Colonel J. Wolcott Phelps into Hampton. The Union troops marched into the town and then returned to the fort. In the confusion caused by this action, three enslaved men, Colonel Charles King Mallory’s property, escaped. Frank Baker, James Townsend, and Shepard Mallory, seeking freedom, made their way onto Fort Monroe. Butler refused to return the runaways and called them “contraband of war.” His decision helped transform the Civil War from a conflict between the states into a struggle to end slavery.

Civil War Lecture: Ben Butler and the Contrabands
May 21 • 12 p.m. (ET)

Image credit:  “Contraband of War” The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. Courtesy of the New York Public Library Digital Collections.
John Quarstein

John V. Quarstein
Order signed copies of John Quarstein’s books o
nline at our Museum’s Gift Shop.
Members receive 10% OFF Gift Shop purchases with code.
Email Membership to get your Member discount code. Not a member? Become one today.

Pre-registration is required.

For additional assistance, questions or support, please contact us at: [email protected].

Can’t make the virtual lecture live?
Subscribe to our YouTube Channel! New lectures are uploaded every Monday and Saturday.



May 21, 2021
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EDT


The Mariners’ Museum
100 Museum Drive
Newport News, VA 23606 United States
(757) 596-2222