Massachusetts 54th Exhibit

A look at the Massachusetts 54th all African-American unit

Who were the Massachusetts 54th?

The Massachusetts 54th is the first all African-American regiment in the North. Even though they are free-man they face many problems of discrimination and hard labor during this time at war. They fought hard and long through many hours of work and training. This is the Massachusetts 54th.


In camp each tent had 4-5 men in each one. This is were they would sleep and keep any belongings they had. They had a very long day of training. The Sargent was Irish and remember at this time the Irish and German group did not like the African Americans because they are taking their jobs in the North. That means an Irish Sargent was in control of African-American group. They were treated badly. The Sargent would be very rough and rude towards this group of people. The soldiers didn't have proper supplies during training. They would wear the clothes they had and most didn't have shoes. They would train with corn stocks, sticks, etc. for guns. They had a long days of work.

Facing Discrimination

Even though the African-Americans were free they faces serious discrimination. The white soldiers would make racial jokes as they would walk by or together during a normal conversations. The white men got more pay than the African Americans did. The white man go better food, clothing, and supplies than the African Americans got. They faced this on a daily basis.

Their Arrival to South Carolina

For the African Americans to go back down to the south was a very difficult thing for them. It was a kind of pride feeling also. They knew that they were free and were fighting for fellow brothers and that they aren't slaves. Even though they had many bad memories, along with some good ones they aren't afraid of going back, they know its to fight.

Their arrival is important because it brought hope to other blacks in the area.

Their 1st Assignment

There are "two" reasons of why they invade the town they did. The false reason is so they can get supplies that they need for their soldiers. The real reason why they invaded the town was to destroy the town and take all the goods the residents had.

Manual Labor

In the beginning of the training and war the colored men didn't fight. They did slave work. Which would be digging up bathrooms, making crops, etc.

Their 1st Battle on James Island

In the beginning of the battle the Union soldiers were lined in position, the Confederacy was riding in on horses. On command the Union fired a few rounds on them. They rode away, leaving the Union thinking they had won so easily and were cheering. They were mistaken. The Confederate came back on foot this time with lots more people. When they stopped they waited for the Union to reload and on command both sides fired. They were polite through the whole battle though. After 2 or 3 rounds of polite fire "fire at free will" was yelled at the troops. They all charged at each other and the hand to hand combat came into play. Many soldiers of the Union and the Confederate had wounded and dead soldiers. The Union won the battle.

The Volunteer and Attack for Fort Wagner

General Shaw volunteered his men for the attack on Fort Wagner. This mission in so dangerous because their mission is to hold off the enemy until the other regiment could reload and try to climb over the walls and take over the fort. They are to run on a sand path between the shore and the dunes. While they are running they are being fired at. As first they right jogging then charged is yelled. They take cover in the dunes till nightfall. They then proceed to run towards to the fort. They get right to the fort and General Shaw is shot and killed. The rest of the men that are left get over the fort but end up getting killed once they get in. That was the end of 54th Massachusetts.

The Outcome

The Union did not end up taking over the fort. The 54th Massachusetts was gone and took any supplies they had. The men got buried in a trench alone the beach.