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Through the Heart of Dixie

Sherman's March and American Memory

Anne Sarah Rubin

Publication Year: 2014

Sherman's March, cutting a path through Georgia and the Carolinas, is among the most symbolically potent events of the Civil War. Rubin uncovers and unpacks stories and myths about the March from a wide variety of sources, including African Americans, women, Union soldiers, Confederates, and even Sherman himself. Drawing her evidence from an array of media, including travel accounts, memoirs, literature, films, and newspapers, Rubin uses the competing and contradictory stories as a lens into the ways that American thinking about the Civil War has changed over time.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Series: Civil War America

Title Page, About the Series, Copyright, Dedication, Epigraph

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pp. i-viii


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pp. ix-xii

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pp. xiii-xvi

Sherman’s March took just over six months; my work on this project has taken considerably longer. I have my own army of supporters without whom this work could not have been finished, and I apologize in advance if I leave anyone out. First and foremost, I owe a debt of thanks to the American Council of Learned Societies whose Digital Innovation Grant allowed me to do the bulk of my research and begin building the Mapping Memory website....

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Introduction: Marching through Metaphors

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pp. 1-7

Forty-one times a year, twenty-three hundred miles from Atlanta, the legacy of Sherman’s March comes alive on the windswept prairies of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. There, thousands of people regularly brave below-freezing temperatures and head to the Scotiabank Saddledome to cheer on their beloved Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League. Does the name refer obliquely to Calgary’s petroleum industry? To the Calgary Fire of 1886?...

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Chapter One: Stories of the Great March

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pp. 8-44

Most of the chapters in this book delve deep into the stories of one place or another; they tell them from different perspectives and at different times. The purpose of the thematic chapters is to explore the common threads that bind together one place and another; they are not generally designed to weigh in on accuracy or veracity. They are impressionistic and episodic in nature. The stories of the March have a certain repetitive cadence to them, a...

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Chapter Two: Southern Belles and Brother Masons

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pp. 45-68

One can easily imagine Southern white children of a hundred years ago curling up on a rainy day with Howard Meriwether Lovett’s poetically titled Grandmother Stories from the Land of Used-to-Be and losing themselves in tales of heroes and heroines from the nineteenth-century South. One of the most romantic and exciting was the tale of Zora Fair, the “girl spy of the Confederacy.”...

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Chapter Three: Freedpeople and Forty Acres

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pp. 69-93

By the early 1930s, eighty-seven-year-old Henry Jenkins had long transcended his origins as a slave on a plantation in Sumter County, South Carolina. He owned 480 acres of land, and was described as a respectable “church member, citizen, and tax payer.” While he owed his emancipation to Sherman’s marchers, he recalled them more with anger than gratitude. “When de Yankees come, what they do?” he asked rhetorically, and then answered...

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Chapter Four: Brave Bummers of the West

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pp. 94-120

The 1868 children’s story “ ‘Bummers’ in Sherman’s Army” is a typical tale of Sherman’s March. Written in the second person, the story takes readers along an expedition with a “motley” band of foragers. The soldiers were “rough and ragged from their long campaign; some in blue uniforms, some in rebel gray, and others in ministerial black broadcloth, with, perchance,...

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Chapter Five: Uncle Billy, the Merchant of Terror

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pp. 121-151

Disentangling images of William Tecumseh Sherman from images of the March itself is almost impossible. One seems to define the other, and as the March came to stand in for all of the atrocities of war, so too did Sherman come to be the ultimate personification of those evils. If the marchers were “Huns” or “Vandals,” then Sherman was Attila; if the March was one long arson spree, then Sherman was Nero incarnate. But Sherman was not only...

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Chapter Six: On Sherman’s Track

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pp. 152-174

In 1869, Union veteran and journalist Russell H. Conwell set off to see the South, sending letters back for the edification of the readers of the Boston Evening Traveler. Like so many other visitors, he boarded a train in Savannah and headed toward Macon to see “the traces of Sherman’s great march which are still to be seen on every side.” The countryside through which he passed was “a hideous ruin.” Chimneys stood everywhere, “surrounded by...

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Chapter Seven: Songs and Snapshots

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pp. 175-203

“Tell about your family plantation burned by Sherman’s raiders,” advised the satirical book Will Success Spoil Jeff Davis’s list of qualifications to be “an amateur Confederate.” “Grit your teeth when you say ‘Sherman,’ ” it continued, “and challenge onlookers to sing ‘Marching through Georgia.’ ” Elsewhere, the author joked that Sherman “lit a Georgia mansion every night to tell his wife he would be home for Yom...

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Chapter Eight: Fiction and Film

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pp. 204-231

Tragically beautiful, spirited, Southern ladies. Handsome and gallant Union officers. Sneaky or comical bummers. Faithful, loyal slaves. Hidden valuables, secret messages, star-crossed lovers. All of these are staples of Civil War fiction in general and the Sherman saga in particular.1 These tropes and clichés form the backbone of tales of the Lost Cause and reunion. The novels and films that focus on the March tend to emphasize...

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Conclusion: Rubin’s March

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pp. 232-238

On a clear March day I drove out of the Atlanta airport and headed south, toward Jonesboro, Georgia. Twenty minutes later I turned onto Tara Boulevard, and a few minutes after that arrived at the Road to Tara Museum, Jonesboro’s signature attraction. Two women in hoopskirts and shawls stood outside, waiting for two busloads of tourists who were about to arrive. Welcome to the land of Sherman’s March, circa 2008....


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pp. 239-270


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pp. 271-292


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pp. 293-300

E-ISBN-13: 9781469617794
E-ISBN-10: 146961779X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781469617770
Print-ISBN-10: 1469617773

Page Count: 392
Illustrations: 21 halftones, 2 maps
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Civil War America
The Civil War America series interprets the field broadly to include biography, military and nonmilitary history, works that explore the immediate background of the conflict, and studies of postbellum topics related to the war. A few diaries, sets of letters, and memoirs that make exceptional contributions to our understanding of the era also will appear as volumes in the series.