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Pulitzer Prize Winner Eric Foner & Alexander Fleiss on the Civil War : What happened to the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial?

Eric Foner on the Civil War : Pulitzer Prize Winning Columbia History Professor on the Civil War

What happened to the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial?

The 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment was an infantry regiment that saw extensive service in the Union Army during the American Civil War. The unit was the second African-American regiment, following the 1st Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry Regiment, organized in the northern states during the Civil War.

Authorized by the Emancipation Proclamation, the regiment consisted of African-American enlisted men commanded by white officers.[3]

The unit began recruiting in February 1863 and trained at Camp Meigs on the outskirts of Boston, Massachusetts.[3] Prominent abolitionists were active in recruitment efforts, including Frederick Douglass, whose two sons were among the first to enlist.

Massachusetts Governor John Albion Andrew, who had long pressured the U.S. Department of War to begin recruiting African-Americans, placed a high priority on the formation of the 54th Massachusetts. Andrew appointed Robert Gould Shaw. Moreover, the son of Boston abolitionists, to command the regiment as Colonel. In addition, the free black community in Boston was also instrumental in recruiting efforts, utilizing networks reaching beyond Massachusetts and even into the southern states to attract soldiers and fill out the ranks. 

Moreover, after its departure from Massachusetts on May 28, 1863. The 54th Massachusetts was shipped to Beaufort, South Carolina. And became part of the X Corps commanded by Major General David Hunter.

During its service with the X Corps, the 54th Massachusetts took part in operations against Charleston, South Carolina. Furthermore, including the Battle of Grimball’s Landing on July 16, 1863.

And the more famous Second Battle of Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863. However, during the latter engagement, the 54th Massachusetts, with other Union regiments. Executed a frontal assault against Fort Wagner and suffered casualties of 20 killed, 125 wounded. And 102 missing (primarily presumed dead)—roughly 40 percent of the unit’s numbers at that time.

Col. Robert G. Shaw was killed on the parapet of Fort Wagner.

In 1864, as part of the Union Army’s Department of Florida, the 54th Massachusetts took part in the Battle of Olustee.

In conclusion, the service of the 54th Massachusetts, particularly their charge at Fort Wagner. However, soon became one of the most famous episodes of the war, interpreted through artwork, poetry and song. Lastly, more recently, the 54th Massachusetts gained prominence in popular culture through the film Glory.

What happened to the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial?

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