Massachusetts 54th Exhibit

Look at the Massachusetts 54th All African American Unit

Who were The Massachusetts 54th

The Massachusetts 54th was a unit of African Americans that Freddrick Douglas mentioned they should form. Most of the men who came to sign up for the unit looked like they were run away slaves or really poor free slaves. Some of the men looked like they were rather average African American citizens.

Training of the Massachusetts 54th

When the men first arrived at the camp they were made fun of right away. Their training though seemed pretty tough for someone like us city-slickers, but not for these men. They seemed to learn pretty fast and they didn't complain no matter how poorly they were treated.

No Fighting Just Manual Labor for the Massachusetts 54th

They would have moved cannons and other military supplies. They also might have dug trenches for soldiers to hide in. They would have dug things besides trenches, like bathrooms.

Their 1st Battle Assignment on James Island

The Massachusetts 54th's first battle at James Island didn't seem too difficult for them. They kept their ground and didn't move. The Confederates were marching towards them though. They both fought with muskets, bayonets, and even items they found on the ground such as rocks and broken branches.

The Massachusetts 54th Volunteers for the Attack on Fort Wagner

Colonel Shaw volunteers the Massachusetts 54th to lead the attack on Fort Wagner and they are most likely to die. Fort Wagner had a lot of fire power and was a very well protected fort. It was not going to be an easy win for the Union.

Attack on Fort Wagner

The Massachusetts 54th had lined up on the beach before the attack and Colonel Shaw would march with them all the way to the fort and also fight along side his men. It was very unusual for colonels to do something like this. As they start approaching the fort they are immediately being shot at by cannons, mortars, and musket fire.

The Outcome

The Massachusetts 54th would lose half of their group including Colonel Shaw. Shaw was shot when he was climbing over the wall to get into the fort. After the attack, all the dead are put in a trench and left there. They didn't properly bury these men who put their lives at stake to fight for the Union, and that is how they are repaid.