In preparing a talk on the 44th United States Colored Troops, a unit raised in Chattanooga in the spring of 1864, I came across three very interesting comments related to USCTs in general in the area, and one specific to the 44th. The first is from a former slave; "The N_______ was mighty glad to have the Yankees take them...they wanted to get out from under that rough treatment. Georgia was about the meanest place in the world. They would knock you and kick you around just like you was a dog."
Now the next comes from a Confederate officer, Spencer Talley, who was present when most of the 44th was captured at Dalton, GA on October 13th, 1864; "They immediately surrendered and my company was sent in to have them stack their arms and march them out. We took the white men as prisoners but the negroes were taken as livestock or other property. The separation of these white officers from their Negro commands was as interesting as well as a sickening scene to our Southern boys. The white officers in bidding farewell with their colored men showed in no uncertain way their love and devotion to the colored race. Their hearty handshakes and expressions of sorrow over their separation will never be forgotten."
The final account also concerns the 44th's capture at Dalton and published in the Macon Daily Telegraph; "The negroes were stripped of their overcoats and hats, and, under guard and lash, put to work tearing up the railroad. They will not be treated as prisoners of war, but if any of them should live long enough they will be reduced to their normal condition."
Some of them did make it home, like Hubbary Pryor, pictured above, but many did not, indeed it seemed as that those that were not sent back into bondage seemed to disappear as the army made its way across North Georgia and into North Alabama, there fait still remains unknown. The remainent of the 44th that escaped capture was joined by some men who were able to make their escape and fought in the Battle of Nashville. After Nashville they would spend their time in garrison duty in Tennessee until April of 1866 when they were mustererd out of service.