Massachusetts 54th Exhibit
A LOOK AT THE MASSACHUSETTS 54th ALL AFRICAN-AMERICAN UNIT
Who were the Massachusetts 54th
The Massachusetts 54th was a regiment that Lincoln set up for African-Americans could join to help fight in the Civil War. This was the only all African-American regiment in the entire army. Lincoln was basically testing to see if the African-Americans were trustworthy enough to have in there army or not. (This is a picture of the Massachusetts 54th)
Training of the Massachusetts 54th
When the Massachusetts 54th arrived at the camp the white men were very racist to them. The training there was pretty intense. The men were pushed pretty hard to get into fighting shape. The generals were a little harder on the African-Americans than they were to the white men. They needed new shoes so general shaw asked for them and never got them. He then went right to the man who runs that department and demanded shoes for them. The regiments pay was less than a white mans pay. (some pictures of the 54th.)
Their Arrival in South Carolina
When they arrived in South Carolina they had forgotten what it was like down there. They were getting memories of the past when they were slaves. On the boat general shaw promoted sargent rawlins to sargent major, the highest rank an African-American can get.
The First Assignment in South Carolina
The regiment was assigned to go with another regiment and "get supplies" from a little town. The real reason they were going there was to take the towns goods and they had to burn the town down.
no fighting just manual labor for the massachusetts 54th
The 54th never got to actually fight yet. They were forced to work while the white men fought. The work that they had to do was chop down trees and bring them back to camp.
the first battle assignment on james island
Finally, the regiment got there first assignment and fought very well. They held up well in line and when they broke up into hand-to-hand combat they dominated the confederates making them run. There was 42 casualties.
the Massachusetts 54th volunteers for the attack on fort wagner
The regiment volunteer for a suicide mission. Their job is to charge down the beach and be the first to get into the fort. The night before they are hanging around the camp fire and are singing and praying for tomorrow.
the attack on fort wagner
While they charge to the fort, they are being shot at by cannons, mortars, and the confederates rifles. There are many of them dying from the gun fire. They make their way to the sand dunes where they will wait till night to attack. When the skies darken they make the charge. general shaw dies and they keep pushing on without him. When they get inside they run into a trap where there are cannons and they get shot.
The Union ended up losing this battle. All of the Massachusetts 54th ended up dead and are buried right there on the beach. President Lincoln gives them all the medal of honor and allow all African-Americans to sign up for the army.