-National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom-
The first Union military victory of the Civil War concluded August 29, 1861 with a naval bombardment and amphibious assault of Confederate forces at Fort Hatteras and Fort Clark, the former being near the location of the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum today. Prized for their strategic military value overlooking Hatteras Inlet, the ensuing capture of the Confederate forts had a dramatic consequence. Fugitive slaves began arriving daily in the new Union foothold, hoping for a taste of freedom. Union soldiers had to quickly assemble a shelter to accommodate the influx of refugees forever known to the public as the Hotel De Afrique following a New York Times article on January 29, 1862.
What began as a simple shanty structure quickly grew to about a dozen barracks where African Americans would exchange their skills as watermen, horsemen, laborers in exchange for food and shelter. It was the first such haven for fugitive slaves in North Carolina. Visitors to the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum will notice a large black memorial near the main parking area describing the Civil War epic battle and ensuing freedom camp. The Hotel d’ Afrique operated from 1861-1865 and is part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.