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“Contrabands accompanying the line of Sherman’s march through Georgia.”

After the fall of Atlanta in 1864, the Union Army under General William T. Sherman marched through Georgia to the sea, bringing destruction in its wake. Nearly 18,000 slaves left plantations and attached themselves to the army during its march. This 1865 illustration showed a stereotyped view of the men, women, and children who followed Sherman’s army. But to northern readers, the engraving’s significance may have lay in its unmistakable message about slaves’ utter hatred of slavery. “The oft expressed fallacy that they preferred slavery to freedom,” ran the picture caption, “. . . [has been] ‘crushed to earth,’ . . . never to rise again.”

Source: Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, March 18, 1865—American Social History Project.