The busy wharf was the site of much Civil War activity. Black troops, free Black Elizabeth City residents, and those escaping slavery would certainly have comingled here in 1863 when a brigade of Black soldiers—many of whom had been previously enslaved in the region—returned to Elizabeth City under the command of Brigadier General Edward Augustus Wild. In a three-week-long expedition known as Wild’s Raid, this brigade freed most of the remaining enslaved people in Elizabeth City and the surrounding counties, some 2,500 people in total. After the war, the wharf was one of many downtown locations from which one could view the annual Emancipation Day parade organized by Elizabeth City’s Black community from the end of the war through at least the 1930s. These parades, which took place in early January to mark the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, were attended by Black and white Elizabeth City residents alike. They celebrated Black freedom, honored African American Civil War veterans, and showcased African American achievements since the war’s end. A marker commemorating Wild’s Raid was approved for placement in Mariners’ Wharf Park by the North Carolina Department of Transportation in December 2019.
To learn more from Elizabeth City State University historian Dr. Melissa Stuckey, please click here: https://www.journalofthecivilwarera.org/2021/01/responding-to-the-call-engaging-the-public-in-conversations-about-african-american-civil-war-participation/.