Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dixie's Little Darling

In 1902, 13-year-old Laura Talbott of Louisville, Kentucky became the idol of all true ex-confederate soldiers, when she refused to sing, "Marching Through Georgia," at the request of her teacher.

You see, "Marching Through Georgia," which was written by Henry Clay Work at the end of the Civil War in 1865, refers to U.S. Major General William Tecumseh Sherman's March to the Sea, which had occured late in the previous year.

Bring the good old bugle, boys, we'll sing another song
Sing it with a spirit that will start the world along
Sing it as we used to sing it, 50,000 strong
While we were marching through Georgia

Hurrah! Hurrah! we bring the jubilee!
Hurrah! Hurrah! the flag that makes you free!
So we sang the chorus from Atlanta to the sea
While we were marching through Georgia

Sherman's March to the Sea, also known as the Savannah Campaign, began with Sherman's troops leaving the captured city of Atlanta, Georgia, on November 15, 1864 and ended with the capture of the port of Savannah five weeks later. It inflicted significant damage, particularly to industry and infrastructure, and also to civilian property. Military historian David Eicher wrote that Sherman "defied military principles by operating deep within enemy territory and without lines of supply or communication. He destroyed much of the South's potential and psychology to wage war."

Naturally, the song, "Marching Through Georgia," became widely popular with Union Army veterans after the war. But 13-year-old Laura Talbott apparently felt differently about the song, just as she apparently felt differently about the outcome of the war that had ended many years before she was even born. As word spread throughout the South that Laura had refused to sing the song, she became known as 'Dixie's Little Darling.' But, it wasn't just that Laura Talbott refused to sing "Marching Through Georgia" that made her the idol of all true ex-Confederate soldiers. There was a little more to it than that.

It was on a late July day in 1902. Miss Talbott had been invited to attend a Confederate reunion at Owensboro, Kentucky, where she was to be given a medal by some old Confederate soldiers in Georgia, who had heard about her refusal to sing the song in class. When the young teenager stepped up to the podium to accept her medal, she said the reason she refused to sing the song was because 'it was General Sherman's only claim to greatness.'

With that, the 4,000 ex-Confederates at the reunion went wild.

*From the Adair County News, 1902.

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