54th Massachussetts Regiment
The First African American Regiment of the Civil War
To celebrate the courage and sacrifices of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment and its leader Robert Gould Shaw, as the first African American regiment in the Civil War, Augustus Saint-Gaudens created the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial.
On May 28, 1863, the 54th Regiment paraded down Beacon Street in Boston on their way to head South for battle. The 54th Regiment's first battle was the Battle on James Island on July 16th, 1863. The regiment was successful in stopping any Confederate advance but lost 42 men in the process. By July 18th, the 54th Regiment had moved on to Fort Wagner on Morris Island, SC. At the Battle of Fort Wagner, the 54th Regiment suffered many losses including Colonel Shaw. Even though the 54th Regiment was not successful in this battle, it proved that the blacks were loyal and willing to fight. The 54th Regiment continued to fight in other battles such as the Battle of Olustee and the Battle of Honey Hill. The 54th Regiment ended in 1865. Today the 54th Regiment is remembered for their courage by the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial in Massachusetts.
- First African American regiment in the Union
- Had white leaders
- Fought at Fort Wagner
- Blacks were paid less than whites
- Proved that African American regiments were loyal to the Union and could fight
Connections to Frederick Douglass
Important Men Who Fought In the 54th Regiment
Lewis Douglass was a son of Frederick Douglass who fought in the 54th Regiment and encouraged other African Americans to join.
Sergeant William H. Carney
Sergeant William H. Carney saved the 54th Regiment's flag in the Battle of Fort Wagner. Because of this action, he was the first African American to win the Medal of Honor.
Robert Gould Shaw
Robert Gould Shaw was the first Colonel of the 54th Regiment and died in battle while fighting with his regiment.