Massachusetts 54th exhibit

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

Who were the Massachusetts 54th

The Massachusetts 54th were African-American soldiers that had signed up to fight in war. A lot of these people had came from bad conditions and lots of them did not know how to read or write. Although there were wealthy people that did know how to read and write that signed up to fight, like Thomas Searles an educated friend of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw.

Training of the Massachusetts 54th

When many of the people had arrived to the training camp they were either shoe-less, or wearing leather shoes that would rub up against their feet and put their feet in horrible conditions. A majority of them had brought along all of their belongings and even things like goats. A lot of the men had trouble with marching from not knowing their right from left. Their Sargent Major Mulchay, was very rough on them but only because he wanted to make them the best of soldiers.

Facing Discrimination

At camp during training lots of the African-American men would get called racist names and be treated more poorly because of their color. When Colonel Robert Gould Shaw had tried to get them shoes to fight in and uniforms he was turned down because the person who hands out the supplies had been someone that was racist. Eventually he talked the supplier into giving the Massachusetts 54th shoes. Also they were paid less then they were promised and the white soldiers were paid more, they all refused pay. Even Colonel Robert Gould Shaw.

Their Arrival in South Carolina

When they returned to South Carolina for the first time they were all having strong emotions while they were there. You could tell that they were happy they were back on a different notice and on a good notice. They were happy they were changing things.

Their 1st Assignment in South Carolina

They were told their assignment was to collect fire arms. When they got there they found out the real reason for their assignment. It was to burn the town and rob everyone in the town.

No Fighting Just Manual Labor for the Massachusetts 54th

The Massachusetts 54th had to chop down tree's and burn towns under command of another Sargent. They were ordered to burn the town and everything the people in that town owned. They were also ordered to go into the peoples houses and rob them of their stuff.

Their 1st Battle Assignment on James Island

On their way to the battle on James Island they met with white soldiers and the soldiers were getting orders from Sargent Major John Rawlins whom was a colored leader and the white disobeyed and said that they didn't have to listen to him because he was colored. They had a big dispute and after a white almost got into a fight with Silis Trip Colonel Robert Gould Shaw came over and asked what was going on the Sargent Major John Rawlins had covered for the white soldier and had just said that it was nothing, he didn't want to get him in trouble even though he was being mean.
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The Massachusetts 54th Volunteers for the Attack on Fort Wagner

The Massachusetts 54th volunteered to lead the attack on Fort Wagner. It was a very brave thing to do. They were told that it would be very hard to get to the fort because there was only a narrow strip of sand to cross on and only one regiment at a time would be able to cross and the first regiment that crossed would have a lot of casualties.
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The Attack on Fort Wagner

Everyone was very anxious you could tell. They were all ready to fight for their freedom. A lot of the men died before they could get to the sand dunes. They were being constantly bombarded. A majority of the men were shot or bombed with cannon balls while trying to climb up the sand walls of the fort. It was difficult for them to climb the sand walls because they were steep.
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The Outcome

While climbing up the wall Colonel Robert Gould Shaw got shot, he died bravely and put up a good fight. Silis Trip died while going up the wall as well with Thomas. They all died as proud soldiers. Colonel Robert Gould Shaw had died for them and they had died for the colored in our country.