In April 2022, Mike traced the march route of Civil War General William T. Sherman, using the effort to raise more than $30 thousand for cancer research at Dana-Farber as a supplement to his regular Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) fundraising. Donations, large and small, are welcomed and can be made via this link.
Mike's route took him from Chattanooga, TN through Atlanta finishing in Savannah, GA. Eight days and 600+ miles on the road -- filled with history and exploration.
History lesson: The first rendezvous set by Sherman was Milledgeville, roughly 100 miles from Atlanta and Georgia's state capital during the Civil War. The governor and legislature fled town before the Union army, using several wagons to empty the Governor's Mansion of its furniture. Sherman slept in the Governor's Mansion -- on the floor of the dining room, in his bedroll. His officers, meanwhile, took over the capitol building, declared themselves to be the rightful state legislature, and repealed Georgia's act of secession. Sherman's men made some mischief (like, pouring maple syrup into a pipe organ), but no townspeople were harmed.
Sherman's troops encountered limited resistance from local militia. One exception was at the crossings of the Oconee River, the major natural obstacle that flowed between Milledgeville and Dublin. Sherman made it known to the residents that if they let his troops pass without harm, they would only take what they needed, and would leave them enough to get through the winter. The alternative - burn everything in the area to the ground. The residents wisely decided that half a loaf was better than none, and the army marched forward its 15 miles each day with minimal challenge.
I enjoyed Milledgeville, especially my tour of the Old Governor's Mansion. It ended up being a 1:1 tour from Ally, a student at a local college and a native of Savannah. When she told me the story about the governor emptying the furniture ahead of Sherman, she described it in terms of "we moved out the furniture before they came to town" -- and then caught herself. I probed -- and got a long response -- "I'm a proud Southerner and a native Georgian. But -- I don't identify at all with the slave owners or the white supremacists or the rebels." She shared that there was conflict on these issues in her family -- but was very clear what side she was on. The tour and the displays noted the role of slaves, how they were treated. The slave quarters are long gone, but the kitchens and laundries that the slaves used remain, and include their artifacts. The tour was definitely worth the hour.
Dublin was my destination that day -- named after the one in Ireland. It was a destination of convenience -- the right # of miles, with an attractive B&B. I had a planned rest day, the only one of the trip, and so found the official city Dublin Walking Tour website. It looked uninspiring, as did the local museum, but first -- it was laundry day. I headed to the laundromat suggested by the B&B and -- WOW -- stumbled across a landmark: "Site of the first public address of Martin Luther King Jr." -- turns out, it is on the walking tour, but -- it's in the black neighborhood, not in the commercial district so -- not top billing. The small park and display in my photos were only installed in 2017. Seems like Dublin is missing out on a tourism opportunity.
"Today thirteen million black sons and daughters of our forefathers continue the fight for the translation of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments from writing on the printed page to an actuality. We believe with them that 'if freedom is good for any it is good for all,' that we may conquer southern armies by the sword, but it is another thing to conquer southern hate. My heart throbs anew in the hope that inspired by the example of Lincoln, imbued with the spirit of Christ, America will cast down the last barrier to perfect freedom. And I with my brother of blackest hue possessing at last my rightful heritage and holding my head erect, may stand beside the Saxon—a Negro—and yet a man!"
I will close with two lighter notes. I rode 80 miles today through rural, conservative East Georgia. I saw zero Confederate flags or similar symbols. And -- my room in the B&B was the "Bullock Suite" -- named after a prominent black local family, who provided Dublin with schoolteachers and the nation's capital with the Marshal overseeing the federal courts.
Governors Dining Room - Sherman bedroll back right