Date of Award

5-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

History

Committee Member

Dr. Vernon Burton, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Lee Wilson

Committee Member

Dr. Rod Andrew

Abstract

When General William T. Sherman's army marched through Georgia during the American Civil War, it did not travel alone. As many as 17,000 refugee slaves followed his army to the coast; as many, if not more, fled to the army but decided to stay on their plantations rather than march on. This study seeks to understand Sherman's march from their point of view. It argues that through their refugee experiences, Georgia's refugee slaves transformed the march into one for their own freedom and citizenship. Such a transformation would not be easy. Not only did the refugees have to brave the physical challenges of life on the march, they had to also exist within a war waged by white men. The refugees, therefore, were forced to legitimate their freedom in spite of the very people, institutions, and circumstances that made their emancipation possible. Resolving this conundrum represented the ongoing struggle of the march, and it would remain a struggle even after the refugees arrived Savannah. "Somewhere Toward Freedom" documents this tension from the moment the first refugees reached Sherman's army to their eventual resettlement on the Georgia coast.

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