Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Blight, David


When William Tecumseh Sherman’s army marched through Georgia in the last full year of the American Civil War, it didn’t march alone. As many, if not more, than 20,000 freed refugees from slavery marched along at the army’s rear. This dissertation tells their story. It argues that Sherman’s fateful March to the Sea represented not just an important military campaign, but quite possibly the largest emancipation event in American history. It also follows the refugee experience on to the shores of Georgia and South Carolina, showing how the army’s arrival in Savannah and this emerging refugee crisis shaped some of the major questions of Reconstruction.