Thursday, May 28, 2009

They Surprised Many

The 54th Massachusetts Infantry, one of the first African American regiments left Boston on May 28th 1863 to fight for the Union.

Robert Gould Shaw; who organized the troop, was from a prominent Boston abolitionist family. He was appointed to be the Colonel of the 54th by Massachusetts Governor John A Andrew in February 1863. The 54th was formed a month latter in Readville, Massachusetts at Camp Meigs. After training, the 54th was sent to Hilton Head, South Carolinia, where on July 18th they were ordered to lead the attack on Fort Wagner. The troops of this unit showed that they were a strong fighting force against the Confederates, surprising those who felt Black troops were a bad idea.

The sons of Frederick Douglass, Lewis N and Charles Douglass were amoung the 54th’s recruits. Also the first African American to ever receive the Medal Honor, William Carney was part of this unit.

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