Afro-american Troops In The Civil War: The 54th Massachusetts Essay, Research PaperAfro-american Troops in the Civil War: The 54th MassachusettsThe Fifty-fourth Massachusetts was organized in early 1863 by RobertGould Shaw, 26 twelvemonth old member of a outstanding Boston emancipationist household.Shaw had earlier served in the Seventh New York National Guard and the SecondMassachusetts Infantry, and was appointed colonel of the Fifty-fourth inFebruary 1863 by Massachusetts governor John A. Andrew.
As one of the first black units organized in the northern provinces, theFifty-fourth was the object of great involvement and wonder, and its public presentationwould be considered an of import indicant of the possibilities environing theusage of inkinesss in combat. The regiment was composed chiefly of free inkinesss fromthroughout the north, peculiarly Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. Amongst itsrecruits was Lewis N. Douglass, boy of the celebrated ex-slave and emancipationist,Frederick Douglass.After a period of recruiting and preparation, the unit proceeded to theDepartment of the South, geting at Hilton Head, South Carolina, on June 3,1863.
The regiment earned its greatest celebrity on July 18, 1863, when it led theunsuccessful and controversial assault on the Confederate places at BatteryWagner. In this despairing onslaught, the Fifty-fourth was placed in the vanguardand over 250 work forces of the regiment became casualties. Shaw, the regiment & # 8217 ; s immaturecolonel, died on the crest of the enemy parapet, shouting, & # 8220 ; Forward, Fifty-4th! & # 8221 ;That heroic charge, coupled with Shaw & # 8217 ; s decease, made the regiment afamily name throughout the North, and helped spur black recruiting. For thebalance of 1863 the unit participated in siege operations around Charleston,before get oning conveyances for Florida early in February 1864.
The regimentnumbered 510 officers and work forces at the gap of the Florida Campaign, and itsnew commanding officer was Edward N. Hallowell, a 27 twelvemonth old merchandiser fromMedford, Massachusetts. Anxious to revenge the Battery Wagner repulse, the Fifty-4th was the best black regiment available to General Seymour, the Unioncommanding officer.Along with the First North Carolina Colored Infantry, the Fifty-fourthentered the combat tardily in the twenty-four hours at Olustee, and helped salvage the Union ground forcesfrom complete catastrophe. The Fifty-fourth marched into conflict shouting, & # 8220 ; Threecheers for Massachusetts and seven dollars a month. & # 8221 ; The latter referred to thedifference in wage between white and colored Union foot, long a sore pointwith coloured military personnels.
Congress had merely passed a measure rectifying this and givingcoloured military personnels equal wage. However, word of the measure would non make these military personnelsuntil after the conflict of Olustee. The regiment lost 86 work forces in theconflict, the lowest figure of the three black regiments present. After Olustee,the Fifty-fourth was non sent to take part in the bloody Virginia runsof 1864-1865. Alternatively it remained in the Department of the South, contending in afigure of actions before Charleston and Savannah. More than a century after thewar the Fifty-fourth remains the most celebrated black regiment of the war, duemostly to the popularity of the film & # 8220 ; Glory & # 8221 ; , which recounts the narrative of theregiment prior to and including the onslaught on Battery Wagner.To break demo how the 54th felt underfire, here is a missive place fromOrderly Sergeant W.N.
Collins of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry accountingPlotter & # 8217 ; s Raid.& # 8220 ; Well, we arrived at Georgetown, S.C. , on the 3Ist ( March 1865 ) , andwent into cantonment. On the 1st of April we started upon our errand through the State,and had nil to molest us for three yearss.
We saw nil of the Johnnies, andon Friday the 8th of April, at Epp & # 8217 ; s Ferry, Cos. H and A were detached from theregiment to travel and destruct the said Ferry. Myself, one corporal and 15genitalias were in the progress. On we went, neither hearing nor seeing any thingin peculiar. After progressing approximately two stat mis, and wading through H2O and clay,we spied a Johnny sitting upon his Equus caballus as a lookout. He left his station andsecreted himself.
Halting my work forces for farther orders, I received instructions tocontinue forward with the extreme cautiousness, and screen my work forces every bit much as possiblein the forests. The swamp through which we had to go through was waist-deep.Onward we went, and after acquiring through the swamp, non over seventy-five paces from Johnny, he saw that we were acquiring excessively near to him ; and atthat clip the Second-Lieutenant of Co. A came along, and I told him that Johnnywas acquiring ready to fire ; and at that minute, Johnny & # 8217 ; s balls began to fallmidst and fast around us.
The Lieutenant got wounded in the right arm. I had two work forces wounded & # 8211 ; onein the right leg, the other in both shoulders ; and it appeared To us that theRebels had nil much but bird-shot to fire at us, which whizzed about ourears in perfect showers. The author got annoyed somewhat in the left manus by oneof these bantam missiles from Johnny & # 8217 ; s shot-gun. They saw that we weredetermined to finish the occupation, and they destroyed the levee and fled. So wereturned to our bid on the 8th. We entered Manningville with a loss of butone adult male killed, who belonged to the 4th Massachusetts Regiment.
On the I0th we left Manningville, and arrived at Sumterville on Sabbath,the 11th ; and after a short and crisp battle, we took the topographic point, captured threepieces of heavy weapon complete, killed five Rebels, wounded some more, and besidescaptured a few.We encamped in the metropolis that dark, and destroyed the terminal, togetherwith three engines and a train of 35 autos. We left on the I3th,after destructing every thing that fire would fire, and went to Manchester, andat that place destroyed one locomotor and a train of 20 autos.The 54th was detailed to travel seven stat mis from the topographic point for the intentof destructing some trestle-work. After a considerable sum of hold, theprogress guard, which was from Co.
F, Sergeant Frank M. Welch commanding, pushedForth. They had non gone far when they espied a train of autos, with locomotorattached, and a full caput of steam on. The column at one time halted and ColonelHenry N.
Hooper went frontward to see for himself and at that place, certain plenty, was thetrain. The crisp study of a rifle shortly told those on the train that the blood-hounds were on the path. The applied scientist instantly jumped from the train and ranfor his life. Nothing could be seen of him but coat-tails and dust. The bidto travel forward was given. With a loud cry and enormous cheer the male childscharged over the trestle-work, three stat mis in length, caught the autos, and ranthem ourselves in topographic point of the Rebels.Lieutenant Stephen A. Swails got wounded in his right arm.
There are40 autos and six engines, and we destroyed so all. Some of the autos wereloaded. We so turned the path inverted. Sergeant Major John H. Wilson andPrivate Gee.
Jorris, of Co. A, got mashed by the autos. Private Jorris got hiscollar-bone broken.
The Sergeant Major has got partially over the hurts hereceived.Leaving at that place, we encamped at Singleton & # 8217 ; s plantation, and sent twothousand contrabands to Georgetown in charge of the 32 U.S.C.T. When theyreturned, we started upon our mission & # 8211 ; and from that clip, the 14th, we foughtevery twenty-four hours with the Rebels, and drove them before us.
But at length they made abase at Swiss Creek, and fought urgently. We captured nine captives. On the15th we left for the intent of taking Camden, which we did capturing all of theRebel sick and wounded at that place, totaling, a least, from three to four hundred work forces.On the I6th. we left Camden, and from that we fought until we got toSwiss Creek, where the Rebels once more made a base. Cos. F and H were on theskirmish line, the battalion on the modesty, the 102d U.
S.C.T. in the centre,and the 3rd U.S.C.T. on the left wing.
We drove them to their lair, when theyfought rather urgently for a clip. For if they flee from the equestrians, how canthey contend with the footmen? The Rebels had a dike constructed all around them,and there was no manner of acquiring at them but to go through over it in individual file. Theleft flying went to extreme right for the intent of flanking Johnny and there itwas that we lost our baronial Lieutenant Edward L. Stevens. Who will assist us mournhis loss & # 8211 ; for he fell in defence of the beloved old flag?Bodily Uames P. Johnson and Corporal Andrew Miller of Co.
H had sixgenitalias wounded. But the 54th stormed the hill and carried it at the point ofthe bayonet, doing themselves Masterss of the field, as they ever do. Justlike them! Brave boys they are! Who will state, Three cheers for the 54th Mass.Vols. , 32d and I02d U.S.C.
T. , and for the 25th Ohio Vols. , the I07th Ohio Vols. ,I5th and 56th N.
Y. vols. , and the 4th Mass. , and the 3d New York Artillery, andfor General [ Edward E.
] Potter & # 8217 ; s weather military personnels? For we are the 1s thatdestroyed and drove the Rebels from the field, wholly corrupting them.The last battle we had was at Statesburg, and at that place the Rebels stood forthe last clip ; for we slaughtered them in great Numberss. They left the fieldstrewn with their dead and hurt. We captured, for the remainder, in South Carolina,on our return to Georgetown, 15 engines, and one hundred and forty autosloaded with ammo, little weaponries and shops. We destroyed them all. Wecaptured five 100 contrabands, five hundred captives, destroyed a huge tradeof belongings, and captured about 80 caput of Equus caballuss. We are now encamped atGeorgetown, and I hope we will shortly be home with our friends and relatives.
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