Service of the 54th

Item contributed by Museum of African American History, Boston & Nantucket

This Liberator article covers the departure of the Regiment from Boston on May 28, 1863.

Transcript reads:
DEPARTURE OF FIFTY-FOURTH REGIMENT OF MASSACHUSETTS VOLUNTEERS. The 54th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, composed of colored men of this and other Northern States, took its departure for the field of active service to-day. This is the pioneer colored regiment raised in the Northern States. The regiment is armed with Enfield rifles, and is in all respects equipped and clothed in the same manner as the white regiments. Like the white soldiers, they have received the advance pay and bounty of the government, and the bounty of the State, and the families of those residing in this Commonwealth are entitled to State aid. In all respects except that they have only white officers, the men of this regiment are placed on an equality with those of any other new regiment in the service. Their future position depends upon themselves.
There is among them a pride in their organization; they are strong, active men, having confidence in themselves and their officers, and there is no doubt, no fear, on the part of their friends, that they will disgrace the cause for which they fight.
The regiment broke camp at an early hour in the morning, and took the cars for Boston. The train bearing them reached the depot, in this city, soon after nine o’clock. At first it had been arranged to have the regiment march direct to the wharf, to embark, but so great was the desire to see them, not only of the people of Boston, but of all the neighboring towns, that it was decided to afford the opportunity.
Arrangements were accordingly made for a review on the Common, by Governor Andrew. One hundred policemen were detailed to clear the streets on the route, and keep the lines at the parade ground on the Common, and this service they performed in a satisfactory manner, under the direction of Col. Kurtz.
At the depot a large crowd was collected, and the regiment was received with hearty cheers, and other demonstrations of welcome. The regiment was accompanied by Gilmore’s band.
A line was formed, and the command at once took up the march through the following streets: Pleasant, Boylston, Essex, Chauncy, Summer, High, Federal, Franklin, Washington, School, Tremont, Pemberton Square, Somerset and Beacon streets, to the State House. All along the route the sidewalks were crowded, and the windows and balconies were thronged. Men cheered and women waved their handkerchiefs, many of them more enthusiastically than ever they had done before. There was nowhere along the line a word of disapproval–not a sneer was heard, nor an unkind word expressed. In several places flags were thrown out by the occupants of stores and dwellings. In Essex street, a lady presented Col. Shaw with a handsome boquet.
The regiment halted in front of the State House a few minutes. At a little after ten o’clock the regiment marched down the street, escorting Governor Andrew, who was accompanied by most of the members of his staff.
They entered the Common at the Charles Street gate. Every place overlooking the parade ground had long been thronged with people, and hundreds who had, and thousands who had not tickets, were passed inside the lines.
At eleven o’clock the regiment again took its place in line, and was reviewed by Gov. Andrew. The men then passed in review by companies before him. They marched in good time, and wheeled with a readiness which showed that they had a clear idea of what was required, and only needed a little more practice to equal the best regiments that have left the State.
At a quarter before 12 o’clock the regiment left the Common by the West street gate, and marched down Tremont, Court, State, and Commercial streets, to Battery Wharf. As on the route to the Common, so were these streets thronged with approving multitudes who cheered as they ” went marching on.”
The regiment marched down State street at a quarter past 12 o’clock to the tune of ” John Brown,” and was vociferously cheered by the vast crowds that covered the sidewalks and filled the windows. Nowhere was the reception of the regiment more hearty.
On reaching the wharf at a quarter before one, everything had been placed on board through the efforts of Capt- McKim, the guns were placed in boxes, the horses put aboard, and the men began to embark. At 4 o’clock the vessel steamed down the harbor, bound for Port Royal, S. C.
Several gentlemen were on the wharf distributing tracts and other reading matter among the troops. and Mr. Frederick Douglass passed round among the different companies, bidding the soldiers farewell, and giving them words of encouragement.
The Regiment is accompanied by a colored band, but they did not perform, being still under practice. The complete roster of the regiment is as follows: Colonel–Robert G. Shaw.
Lieut-Colonel–Norwood P. Hallowell
Major–Edward N. Hallowell
Surgeon–Lincoln R. Stone.
Assistant Surgeon–C. B. Brigham.
Captains–Alfred S. Hartwell, David A. Partridge, Samuel Willard, John W. M. Appleton, Watson W. Bridge, George Pope, William H. Simpkins, Cabot J. Russell, Edward L. Jones, and Louis F. Emilo.
1st Lieutenants–John Ritchie, Garth W. James, Wm. H. Hemans, Orin E. Smith, Erik Wulff, Walter H. Wild, Francis L. Higginson, James M. Walton, James M. Grace, R K. L. Jewett.
2d Lieutenants–Thomas L. Appleton, Benjamin F. Dexter, J. Albert Pratt, Charles F. Smith. Henry W. Littlefield, William Nutt, David Reid, Charles E. Tucker, and Wm. Howard.–Traveller of Friday.

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"Departure of the Fifty-Fourth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers," The Liberator, June 05, 1863. Museum of African American History, Boston and Nantucket, 2011.013.001.

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