Massachusetts 54th Exhibit
A Look At The Massachusetts 54th All African- American Unit
Who Were The Massachusetts 54th?
The men in the Massachusetts 54th are a group of men that were not very educated, but they wanted to fight. Maybe a handful of men could read and write, but most of them had to be taught simple things like left and right. All of the simple things that we learn when we are young, they were never exposed to. Like letter or numbers. And some of them didn't speak very well because they never had a proper education while they were kids. (picture of the Massachusetts 54th)
Training Of The Massachusetts 54th
These volunteers had to learn how to march, how to load and shoot a gun very quickly, what foot was left and what foot was right, and they had to learn how to follow orders and how to be a good soldier. Some of the soldiers had to learn how to actually stab someone and shoot someone without being afraid.
The Massachusetts 54th regiment didn't get all of the supplies that all of the other regiments got handed to them. Shaw had to physically go and take shoes and socks because the people making them thought that it was a waste to use their good shoes on the blacks. Also, this regiment, because it was a colored regiment, only got payed $10 instead of the $13. But when the soldiers decided that they were going to go without pay, everyone went without pay. Even Colonel Robert Gould Shaw.
Their Arrival In South Carolina
When they arrived beck in the south, they weren't too happy about the heat, but they were very happy to be back. There was a little party thrown for the Massachusetts 54th when they got back. They taught little colored kids to sing the National Anthem and they also learned how to read and write.
Their 1st Assignment in South Carolina
Colonel Shaw and the 54th were invited to go with another regiment to a nearby town to get supplies. Shaw saw no harm in that, so he agreed to go. Once they got there though, Shaw found out that they weren't "getting" supplies, but they were stealing them instead. After they took everything that they could grab, they burned the town down.
No Fighting, Just Manual Labor for the Massachusetts 54th
The soldiers of the Massachusetts didn't do any fighting, but instead they were building cabins and things like that. While they were building, a regiment of white soldiers walked passed and they didn't have any respect for the blacks.
Their 1st Battle Assignment on James Island
This Battle went pretty well for the Massachusetts 54th. At the beginning, things were pretty easy, but then things got intense. The men had to do hand to hand combat with the other Soldiers and they ended up winning the Battle.
The Massachusetts 54th Volunteers for the Attack on Fort Wagner
When the Massachusetts 54th volunteered to lead the battle on Fort Wagner, they knew that it was going to be a very big and dangerous job. The casualties were going to be very big, but the men knew that this was there chance to prove that they were just like the whites.
The Attack On Fort Wagner
On the morning of the attack, all of the white men lined up and made a little pathway for the Massachusetts 54th to walk through. Once they were all lined up and almost ready to go , they let the drum boys go because they didn't need to die. They started off walking, but then they went to a full on sprint. They ran and hid behind a sand dune until nightfall, and then started attacking the fort. Only a few people got in, but they all died.
The day after the fighting was over, the men in Fort Wagner put the bodies of the men in the Massachusetts 54th in a trench and buried them that way. It showed respect to them. At this point, the African Americans were getting a lot more respect then they did before the battle. They proved that they could go into a job and be just as good as a white man.