Theresa Montgomery/ State of Tennessee

American Battlefield Trust’s ‘Road to Freedom’ Expands to Two New States, Lifts up Black Civil War Experience

Nonprofit adds 46 historic sites to state-specific apps that highlight under-told stories across Tennessee and North Carolina

Colleen Cheslak-Poulton, (202) 367-1861 x7234  

(Washington, D.C.) — The American Battlefield Trust’s Road to Freedom initiative, which amplifies stories of Black contributions and sacrifice during the Civil War-era, has expanded to include 46 sites across North Carolina and Tennessee. Now available via the Apple App Store and Google Play, Road to Freedom: TN and Road to Freedom: NC provide users with a variety of touring options to discover sites where they can explore lesser-known perspectives in each state’s history.  

The Road to Freedom initiative launched in 2021, when the American Battlefield Trust teamed up with Civil War Trails, Inc., to offer a digital app tour and fold-out map guide highlighting battlefields, churches, cemeteries, highway makers and other historic places throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. The effort has been recognized with a Silver Anthem Award, a cause-driven offshoot of the Webby Awards. With the latest iterations in the Volunteer and Tarheel States, the Trust was supported through state-funded grant programs: in Tennessee, a grant from the Wars Commission Grant Fund, administered by the Tennessee Wars Commission, the Tennessee Historical Commission, Department of Environment and Conservation; in North Carolina, a grant directly from the State of North Carolina 

“The Road to Freedom offers a unique historical perspective on Black participation in the Civil War for locals and visitors alike,” said Trust President David Duncan. “Expanding this program to two new states highlights the power of place and the importance of Black stories in telling the full history of these states and the nation as a whole.” 

The new digital trails currently highlight 26 spots across Tennessee and 20 across North Carolina, but by the end of spring, each will have grown to include approximately 40 sites that hold ties to the Underground Railroad, the activities of the U.S. Colored Troops (USCT units), the development of free Black communities and more related events of the antebellum, wartime and Reconstruction eras.  

Collaborative in nature, the expanded program called on the knowledge of Civil War Trails and the African American Heritage Preservation Foundation, in addition to numerous community stakeholders who are well familiar with these sites and their accompanying backgrounds. The Trust then enlisted on-the-ground research assistance from rising scholars at Middle Tennessee State University and Elizabeth City State University — one of 10 accredited historically Black colleges and universities in North Carolina — as well as within the doctoral program at Vanderbilt University. 

The program is designed to be flexible and easy to navigate. Travelers can seek out a single stop, find a destination along an existing journey or plan an adventure exploring several sites grouped by theme or proximity. For example, in North Carolina, the seven sites scattered throughout the Inner Banks can be sought out over the course of a long weekend. Meanwhile, in Tennessee, the seven sites in the city of Nashville or five in Memphis could all be visited in one day, while finding the three included national cemeteries would cover 351 miles and clock over five hours of drive-time. 

“Millions of tourists come to Tennessee each year, but they’ve never had a tool like the Road to Freedom to encourage them to dive into this fascinating aspect of the state’s history,” said Nina Scall, director of programs for the Tennessee Wars Commission. “Further, being on the ground where history was made, and lives were molded by tragedy and triumph, allows people to better connect with and understand the past.”  

While the State of North Carolina manages the grant supporting the initiative, staff from the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (DNCR) have provided pivotal guidance on the Tarheel State iteration of the app. “With a variety of locations that highlight this transformative time in U.S. history, North Carolina’s Road to Freedom promises to immerse its users in authentic, human stories that relate the broad Black experience during the Civil War-era,” said Ramona Bartos, director of the Division of Historical Resources at DNCR. 

The Road to Freedom apps are GPS-enabled, but images and historical content can be accessed from anywhere on the globe. The free apps are now available for download via the App Store and Google Play, or online as a web app, available through any browser. Learn more at 

The apps will soon be accompanied by a printed, fold-out map guide that is targeted for placement at visitor centers and distribution sites in Tennessee and North Carolina.  

The American Battlefield Trust is dedicated to preserving America’s hallowed battlegrounds and educating the public about what happened there and why it matters today. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has protected more than 58,000 acres associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War across 155 sites in 25 states. Learn more at