Massachusetts 54th Exhibit

A Look at the Massachusetts 5th All African-American Unit

Who were the Massachusetts 54th

The Massachusetts 54th was a group of African Americans who volunteered to fight during the civil war. They were lead by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. Some were runaway slaves, some were well educated, and some were poor. Lincoln needed these men because he needed more soldiers and could not turn down volunteer. There was a lot of risks that theses men had to go through to be seen as equal to a white.

Training of the Massachusetts 54th

During training the Massachusetts 54th were treated very poorly. Some of them were not educated, so they had to first learn things like counting before they could even learn anything about fighting. Once they were ready, they were taught how to shoot a gun and how to fight in hand to hand combat. The leaders had to be very strict, so that the African Americans could become more physically and mentally stronger.

Facing Discrimination

These soldiers had to face a lot of discrimination. The south made a proclamation. it stated that if any negro is seen with a gun on a battle field they will be captured and used as a slave, if any negro is seen in uniform they will be put to death, and any white officer leading these soldiers and seen they will also be put to death. Pay day was also a big inequality. For a white man, it was $13 a month and for a black man, it was $10 a month.

Their arrival in south carolina

The soldiers were scared to return to the South. This arrival was very important because a sergeant promoted an African American the highest rank he can get. There was a party thrown for the volunteered men. They were very shocked and everyone was singing, dancing, and reading.

their 1st assignment in south carolina

The soldiers went to Georgia to get some "supplies." That is what everyone believed they were going there for anyways, however they really went there for a different reason. They really just wanted to burn down the town and attack the civilians.

no fighting just manual labor for the massachusetts

The volunteered soldiers had to do some manual labor. They had to do things such as cutting down trees and creating a road for other regiments. They had to also drag and dear timber.

their 1st battle assignment on james island

The Massachusetts 54th were very excited and walked in with a lot of confidence. At the beginning they were really good, but then the line came closer and it turned into hand to hand combat. They found themselves fighting even better. The confidence must have helped, because after all of the bleeding, shooting, and stabbing, the South ran away in fear and retreated.

the Massachusetts 54th volunteers for the attack on fort Wagner

It was expected for the first group to march in one regiment at a time. This was very dangerous because only a narrow strip was open for them to march across. Plus the fact that there were a lot of prepared men ready and armed.

the attack on fort Wagner

The Massachusetts 54th assembled onto the beach and began to charge toward the enemy. While charging lots of men were killed and they hid in the dunes until night fall. They then get back up and charge to take over the walls. Soldiers were dying but they kept seceding. They brought the walls down, but a cannon went off and they lost the fort.

the outcome

The fort was lost and many of the Massachusetts 54th were dead. They did take down the walls of the fort, however that did not mount to anything. All of the dead bodies, including black and white, were put into the SAME grave. The south did unfortunately take the victory.