The 54th Regiment of Massachusetts

The First African-American Infantry in the Civil War

Background Information

  • The 54th Regiment was the first African-American military unit in the Union during the Civil War.
  • The most known battle they fought was at Fort Wagner which is located at Morris Island, South Carolina on July 18, 1863 and this battle persuaded Abraham Lincoln that African-Americans wanted to serve the Union.
  • The 54th Regiment was organized in March of 1863 at Camp Meigs located in Readville, Massachusetts.
  • The Regiment was led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw who was appointed to lead the regiment and had combat experience.
  • The Black soldiers were not treated equally compared to the white soldiers and it took them a long time to earn the Union's respect.