Slave Coffle, Virginia, 1839

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Image Reference

James Buckingham, The Slave States of America (London, 1842), vol. 2, facing p. 553. (Copy in Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library)

Caption, "Gang of Slaves journeying to be sold in a Southern Market"; illustrates the domestic slave trade in the U.S. James Buckingham viewed this scene in September, 1839, a few miles from Fredericksburg. "It was in a valley ," he wrote, "that we met a gang of slaves, including men, women, and children, the men chained together in pairs, and the women carrying the children and bundles on their march to the south. The gang was under several white drivers, who rode near them on horseback, with large whips, while the slaves marched on foot beside them; and there was one driver behind, to bring up the rear . . . . They were chained together for precaution, rather than punishment; because when accompanied by one or two white men . . . they might be tempted to rise against them in any solitary part of the road, or, at the very least, escape from them if they could. . . " (pp. 552-553). Secondary sources which reproduce this image sometimes, without citing the original source, caption this "crossing the Rapidan" river, but the author does not identify the body of water shown in the illustration; moreover, given the route that he describes having taken, it is unlikely it was the Rapidan.