John Washington wrote about standing in Fredericksburg (at today’s Old Mill Park) by the shore of the Rappahannock River :
Very soon one, of a party of soldiers, in a boat call out to the crowd standing around me do any of you want to come over–Every body said “no,” I hallowed out, “Yes I want to come over,” “all right–Bully for you” was the response. and they was soon over to our side. I greeted them gladly and stepped into their Boat, as soon as James [his cousin] saw my determination to go he joined me and the other young man who had come along with us–
Before morning I had began to feel like I had truly Escaped from the hand of the slave master and with the help of God, I never would be a slave no more. I felt for the first time in my life that I could now claim Every cent that I should work for as my own. I began to feel that life had a new joy awaiting me. I might now go and come when I pleased So I wood remain with the army until I got Enough money to travel further North This was the First Night of my Freedom. It was good Friday indeed the Best Friday I had ever seen Thank God.
(This Civil War era picture shows Ficklen’s Bridgewater Mill in Fredericksburg, site of today’s Old Mill Park, the Rappahannock River, and the Stafford shoreline. This is where Washington, his cousin, and another were rowed across to freedom by Union soldiers.)