View single post by JoanieReb
 Posted: Wed Feb 6th, 2008 11:15 pm
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Joined: Wed Jan 24th, 2007
Posts: 620

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OK,  I've been having this e-mail discussion with a friend about the whole pioneer thing.  I am generally loathe to write things up without being able to quote direct sources, but I'm never gonna have the time to research this all myself.

Anyway, that's what my friend was for: he researches -  often, the older, very basic stuff - the archives dating back to the war.  For some things he sent me his sources, but others include original research that he doesn't want to share, as they are "finds" for publication.

Anyway, I had a bit to pick and choose from, and for now pulled out two paragraphs from our communications, thought I'd share them.

"It is actually a complicated subject. Sherman did prefer black pioneers at this stage of the war, and his orders for the Savannah Campaign called for the organization of black pioneer battalions.  During the Carolinas campaign elements of three USCT regiments performed pioneer duty with Sherman:  the 106th, the 110th, and the 135th.  Companies of the 106th & 110th joined Sherman at Savannah. The 135th was an entire regiment of freed slaves picked up in Georgia and the Carolinas by the 17th Corps (the only corps to organize the black pioneer battalion that Sherman had ordered).  Although enrolled as an infantry regiment, the 135th only performed pioneer duty and was parceled out to the three divisions of the 17th Corps."

"The majority of the Pioneers in Sherman's Carolina Campaign were black. Sherman had disbanded the "Pioneers"  before Atlanta, actually there is more to it than that. So the "pioneers" of the Carolina campaign were not the earlier cohesive group. The name became a generic title for manual laborers. So what Sherman did was put all the able bodied blacks into the field as pioneers, as well as other manual labor jobs.  He also used the blacks for loading and unloading the ships in Savannah and for guard duty. He refused to have the blacks as regular soldiers on the Carolina Campaign.  There were also whites that did the same work but the MAJORITY on the Carolina Campaign were black. Free, easy, hard working laborers! There are ample examples of white officers, engineers etc. working with the pioneers. It is important to point here was what the pioneers had become and who they were on the Carolina Campaign, as well as the March to the Sea."

I put italics on the last sentence myself, because that kind of summed up my whole difficulty with it.  About a year or two ago I read a book on the march to the sea that had me believing that Sherman added to the poineers from able-bodied freed slaves along the way.

Anyway, don't know if this helps or muddles, but perhaps food for thought?

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