In 1862 the Union had begun to enlist Black men in military service. After the 1 Jan 1863 Emancipation Proclamation freed all those enslaved in Confederate territory, recruitment was extended. During the Atlanta campaign of May-September 1864, the enrollment of Black soldiers began in occupied areas of northwestern Georgia under authority granted to Colonel Ruben D. Mussey, the Nashville, Tennessee-based commissioner for the Organization of U.S. Colored Troops in the Department of the Cumberland. From July to September 1864, the 44th U.S. Colored Infantry was stationed in Rome, for recruiting purposes. By late summer the 44th USCI contained some 800 Black enlisted men, including Thomas Freeman, who enlisted in Company I on 30 June 1864. The unit was commanded by Colonel Lewis Johnson, who was white.
Organized at Chattanooga, Tenn., April 7, 1864. Attached to District of Chattanooga, Dept. of the Cumberland, to November, 1864. Unattached, District of the Etowah, Dept. of the Cumberland, to December, 1864. 1st Colored Brigade. District of the Etowah, Dept. of the Cumberland, to January, 1865. Unattached, District of the Etowah, to March, 1865. 1st Colored Brigade, Dept. of the Cumberland, to July, 1865. 2nd Brigade, 4th Division, District of East Tennessee, July, 1865. Dept. of the Cumberland and Dept. of Georgia to April, 1866.
A few sources to get started on learning more about what Thomas Freeman's military life might have been like, as well as the history and politics of Black men's service during the Civil War.