Massachusetts 54th Exhibit

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

Who were the Massachusetts 54th

The Massachusetts 54th was an African American group that were all around the age of 30 or so. Some of them were former slaves and other weren't. Some were rich, some were poor. Almost all of them weren't very educated except for a few lucky ones. People signed up for their ninety days and when those days were up they needed more people and African Americans said that they would do it so they can prove themselves.

The picture on the right is of the soldiers who were a part of this group.

Training the Massachusetts 54th

The volunteers had to learn how to march and the difference between left and right. They had to learn how to load and shoot a gun. They were yelled at all day but they learned pretty fast. They were treated harshly so that they would learn better.

Facing Discrimination

They were called names and treated as slaves. They had to do work that they shouldn't have to do and were payed less than white men.

To the right is a picture of a soldier probably being called names like the n-word during training.

Their Arrival to South Carolina

They said that it was hot once they arrived and they were remembering when they were slaves. This was important because they were going to go to a party that was Lincoln's idea were they sang ''My Country 'Tis of Thee'.

Their 1st Assignment is South Carolina

They were told that they were going to help them get supplies by raiding the houses. They then realized that the real assignment was to liberate the town. They wanted it destroyed!

No Fighting just Manual Labor for the Massachusetts 54th

They had to cut trees down and pull things. They were treating like slaves again even though they were supposed to be free.

Their 1st Battle Assignment on James Island

They shot and the other side went back so they cheered because they thought that meant that they had won and the other side left but they were wrong. Then they got attacked and realized that the other side had not left. They shot back and forth and then they fought hand to hand. The other side ran again and they cheered because that meant that they had actually won. Thomas got shot and they wanted him to go back but he said no.

The Massachusetts 54th Volunteers for the Attack on Fort Wagner

The first group is expected to die. They are pretty much going on a suicide mission. The Fort had an advantage because they had cannons and were much higher. That made this attack dangerous. The other side hasn't slept in two days also. They don't think that they are strong enough. Others said it was the strength of heart that counts.

The Attack on Fort Wagner

Before the attack they sang and danced and told stories. They also prayed. On their march to the beach they carried the American flag and anther flag. They walked with the other soldiers on their sides. They drummer boys left and the colonel let his horse run away. Colonel Shaw asked who would carry the flag if the one holding it died and Thomas said that he would. They ran, fast. The colonel was upfront. They had cannons fired at them. They took cover in the dunes were they laid down and waited until nightfall. When they started attacked the colonel tried to climb up the wall and got killed. They all charged after that. Most of them went into hand to hand combat after getting into the fort and others ran forward while shooting.

The picture on the right is a picture of soldiers charging the Fort.

The Outcome

Dead bodies were everywhere. It was quiet. They raised their flag. They put the dead bodies right next to each other. The colonel was with them. The fort was never taken.