ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WUSA9) -- On Saturday, Alexandria will dedicate a memorial to 1,700 African Americans who died during the Civil War.

According to event officials, more than 500 descendants of those who died and others will gather at Church and S. Washington Streets in Alexandria at 10 a.m. Saturday to dedicate the Contrabands and Freedman Cemetery Memorial.

Officials said in a press release:

In the early years of the Civil War, slaves who had escaped into areas under Union control were called contrabands, after the term "contraband of war," which protected their refugee status and prevented them from being sent back into slavery. Many of those buried were refugees who fled from Maryland and areas in Virginia to Alexandria, seeking freedom behind the Union army lines.

For more information on the memorial, visit