Nat Turner May Have Wanted To Establish a Maroon Colony a Independent New Afrikan Republic in The Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia with The Maroons , Some Maroons were Captured Do to The Nat Turner Insurrection!

The white residents of Norfolk and other communities near the swamp were terrified of being attacked by the swamp’s maroons. Instead, they got Nat Turner’s insurrection of 1831—a rebellion of slaves and free blacks in which more than 50 whites were killed and then at least 200 blacks killed in reprisal. Turner was planning to hide in the Dismal Swamp with his followers, recruit the maroons and more slaves, and then emerge to overthrow white rule. But his rebellion was suppressed after two days, and Turner, after two months in hiding, was captured and hanged.

What became of the Dismal Swamp maroons? Olmsted thought that very few were left by the 1850s, but he stayed near the canals and didn’t venture into the interior. Sayers has evidence of a thriving community at the nameless site all the way up to the Civil War. “That’s when they came out,” he says. “We’ve found almost nothing after the Civil War. They probably worked themselves back into society as free people.”

Richmond and Petersburg VA


Newspapers of the time seem to concur that the Dismal Swamp was 
considered a safe haven for the fugitive slaves. After Nat 
Turner’s Revolt in August 21, 1831, in Southampton County, 
Virginia, there was this excerpt in The Constitutional Whig, 
Richmond, VA 23 August 1831: We understand that the insurrection 
in Southampton is little more than the irruption of 150 or 200 
runaway slaves from the Dismal Swamp, incited by a spirit of 
plunder and rapine. It will be quickly suppressed. The Petersburg 
Intelligencer, Petersburg, VA 26 August 1831, recounted:
Belfield, (Greenville County) August 24, 1831- Excerpt, In the 
greatest haste I write you a few lines, I can merely say that we 
are all in arms and in great excitement on account of the 
insurrection, which broke out on Sunday night last- between 
eighty and a hundred of the whites have already been butchered- 
their heads severed from their bodies. The intention of the 
negroes was to reach the Dismal Swamp. I think, however, that 
we have them so hemmed in as to render it impossible for them 
to do so. Problems with runaways in the Great Dismal Swamp 
apparently reached such proportions that, in 1847, the North 
Carolina State Assembly passed the Act to provide for the 
apprehension of runaway slaves in the Great Dismal Swamp and 
for other purposes. The Preamble of the Act is below. Whereas, 
many slaves belonging to persons residing or having plantations 
in the neighborhood of the great dismal swamp, have left the 
service of their masters and taken refuge in the said swamp, 
and by the aid of free persons of color and of white men, 
have been and are enabled to elude all attempts to secure 
their persons and induce them again under the just authority 
of their masters, and their consorting with such white men 
and free persons of color, they remain setting at defiance 
the power of their masters, corrupting and seducing other slaves, 
and by their evil example and evil practices, lessening the 
due subordination, and greatly impairing the value of slaves 
in the district of country bordering on the said great dismal 
swamp…Passing Through The ports of Virginia, particularly 
Portsmouth and Norfolk, were major access points for runaway 
slaves to find passage onboard ship. Runaway ads (such as those 
listed above) illustrate that the Dismal Swamp was a refuge for 
those aiming toward Norfolk. Historian Cecelski states in 
The Waterman’s Song, that “Men and women who escaped from the 
Albemarle Sound vicinity usually headed north through the Great 
Dismal Swamp to rendezvous with seagoing vessels in Norfolk and 
Portsmouth, Virginia. ”During a recent interview, Dr. Bogger 
theorized that those slaves who could pass as free may have 
used the swamp as a temporary stopping point before continuing 
to Norfolk or Portsmouth. William Still documents the 
availability of transport from Elizabeth City in the 1850s; a 
ship’s captain allowed freedom seeker Miles White to hide in a 
Philadelphia-bound vessel carrying shingles  Daniel Carr 
escaped from Norfolk with Captain Fountain; Cecelski thinks 
that the “swamp” Daniel Carr hid in “for three months surrounded 
with wild animals and reptiles” was Dismal Swamp .

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