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1st “Shove Off Day” Honors Journey of U.S. Colored Troops From Virginia To Juneteenth



Petersburg National Battlefield (PETE) in partnership with the National Juneteenth Observance Foundation (NJOF) hosted a free event on Thursday, May 25, 2023, in observance of Juneteenth.

The first “Shove Off Day” featured a Juneteenth flag-raising ceremony performed by United States Colored Troops (USCT) reenactors. On hand were guest speakers highlighting the USCT’s role in 1865, as part of the U.S. Army expedition starting at City Point (present day Hopewell), setting sail for Texas at the end of the Civil War to enforce the freedom of those still enslaved in the remote areas of the Confederacy.

Several USCT regiments left City Point, Virginia by ship on May 25, 1865, which ran into a storm in the Gulf of Mexico and were forced to land at Galveston, TX on June 19, 1865. More than 4,000 USCT soldiers were on the island that day and brought the news of freedom to those still enslaved, while General Order #3 was posted on the door of the Colored church (present-day Reedy Chapel) informing all of their “Absolute Equality.” This led to the observance named Juneteenth which is today a federal holiday.

The program also featured a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, 13th Amendment, and General Order #3.

Following the program, National Park Service staff offered tours of City Point and the Appomattox Plantation buildings.

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