Friday, July 18, 2008
Fort Battery Wagner
Today, 145 years ago the 54th Massachusetts Regiment attacked an unattainable position at Fort Battery Wagner, South Carolina. The All-black regiment was led by a white colonel named Robert Gould Shaw. Colonel Shaw was killed, along with one-hundred and sixteen of his men. Another hundred and fifty-six were wounded or captured. The regiment's bravery and sacrifice destroyed any stereotypes that white soldiers had about black soldiers. A newspaper write wrote of the regiment "The Fifty-fourth did well and nobly. . . . They moved up as gallantly as any troops could, and with their enthusiasm they deserved a better fate." The 1989 film Glory tells the story of the 54th. After the battle the Confederates did not feel that the black troopers were worth a grain of salt. They unceremoniously buried in a mass grave and Shaw was buried in the burial pit with his soldiers. The poor burial choice reinforced the public's feelings towards the regiment. Black history would never be the same and the race was well on its way to recieve the American citizenship that they so much deserved.
A casualty list for the regiment can be found here: