Josiah's Row to Freedom

From Shirley Plantation

Meet Josiah Carter-Hulett

Learn the compelling story of runaway slave Josiah Carter-Hulett and his "Row to Freedom" from Shirley Plantation.

Nicknamed “Siah," he was the most valuable servant to Hill Carter and the first to run away from the plantation during the Civil War.

Runaway Slave Risks Life to Join the Union Navy Aboard the USS Monitor

In May of 1862, a Union fleet charged up the James River, but was stopped short of Richmond and regrouped off City Point. Under the cover of night, Josiah commandeered a small row boat and rowed towards the USS Monitor (which was a symbol of freedom in his mind), only to be fired upon by the crew of the Monitor who believed it was an enemy attack. Realizing their mistake, Josiah was pulled onto the deck and given status as a runaway slave. He was then signed aboard as a crew member and served as carpenter and cook.

American History Forged on the James River

Shirley Plantation is located on Scenic Route 5, just 10 miles east of I-295 near Richmond and 35 miles west of Colonial Williamsburg. For more information, please visit us at or call (804) 829-5121.