The 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry: Soldiers With More In Common Than Just Skin Color

The 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was the first all black regiment to fight for the Union during the Civil War. Under the command of Robert Gould Shaw, the regiment was created in February 1863, a month after President Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation declared that “such persons [that is, African-American men] of suitable condition, will be received into the armed services of the United States”. Before this, black soldiers could not enlist in the army. Black men from all over the North came to Massachusetts to join, because for them, the war was not only being fought to bring the country together again, but to win freedom for the slaves in the South. This made the 54th one of the hardest fighting regiments in the war. They went to war knowing that “every captured black soldier would be sold into slavery”, as announced by the Confederacy.

The biggest battle for the 54th came in July of 1863 at Confederacy controlled Fort Wagner. The fort protected Charleston, South Carolina and the Union felt that they had to take it. During the night, the 54th stormed over the walls of the fort and found themselves outgunned and outnumbered. The regiment suffered severe losses but their fellow soldiers were amazed at their bravery. All members of the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry had one thing in common besides their skin color; they were fighting for the freedom of all blacks in America.

History.com Staff. “The 54th Massachusetts Infantry.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 14 July

         2016.

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