I’m Masud Olufani for the Atlanta History Center.
While Union armies occupy Atlanta, Confederate General John Bell Hood still fights.
In North Georgia, he attempts to cut the Western and Atlantic railroad to trap Sherman in Atlanta.
But Sherman comes out to fight.
At Allatoona Pass, Union troops hold off a fierce Confederate attack.
At Dalton, Hood’s Confederate army – forty thousand men – surrounds a Union garrison of 850 soldiers.
Six hundred are escaped slaves – like Hubbard Pryor of Polk County, Georgia – who now fight for the Union.
Since May 1863, African Americans serve in combat regiments called the U.S. Colored Troops. Ultimately, over 178,000 fight for freedom.
While Sherman refuses to have black regiments in his army
- This regiment guards his supply line.
Even against these overwhelming odds, the men of Pryor’s forty-fourth regiment want to fight.
Their officers – all of them white – believe their men will be massacred if they resist.
There is no choice but to surrender.
The African American soldiers are treated cruelly by their Confederate captors.
Some are returned to slavery. Others are put to work building fortifications.
All are stripped of their uniforms and shoes.
And though Pryor survived the war, many of his comrades died in prison camps.
I’m Masud Olufani and this is week twenty-five.