Item contributed by Massachusetts Historical Society
After the Emancipation Proclamation and the subsequent call for Black regiments, Massachusetts Governor John Andrew offered the position of Colonel of the 54th Massachusetts to Robert Gould Shaw. While initially hesitant, he accepted the position in February 1863. The 54th Massachusetts, under Shaw’s stern discipline, became one of the best drilled and trained regiments in the U.S. Army. Believing the regiment could prove itself in battle, Shaw volunteered his regiment to lead the assault on Fort Wagner, South Carolina. In the fierce battle, Shaw fell dead after being struck by enemy fire on the parapet of the fort.
Photograph, circa 1863, 9 cm x 5.7 cm.
From the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment photographs.