Service of the 54th

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

Robert Gould Shaw (1837-1863) wrote this letter four days after he married Anna Kneeland Haggerty, while enjoying a brief honeymoon at the Haggerty farm in Lenox, Massachusetts. During this time, he received notice that the 54th would be departing in less than three weeks. Robert Morris Copeland (1830-1874) and Shaw had served together in the 2nd Massachusetts Regiment. In May 1862, they went to Washington D.C. to seek permission to raise a Black regiment, but were unsuccessful.

The transcript reads:
May 6, 1863 My dear Morris, This evening I have been looking over your “Country Life,” for the first time, and consequently thinking about you – “d_d itinerant landscape gardner.” Do you remember when you told me that story? It was when we were drinking milk on Mr. Lucas’ pizza – nearly two years ago – How long ago that seems, and how much has happened since then. This is Harry’s Wedding Day – I should like to have been there, to laugh at him, for he began to get nervous a week since – He wasn’t at my wedding but said if he came, he should cough audibly in the middle of it. This having a wife is not a bad egg, is it? We have been very fortunate in the weather up here – until today it has been perfect and the whole country is beginning to bloom. I was astonished to find things almost as far advanced here as in New York – They are at it again on the Potomac – and the 12th Corps in the hottest of it. It makes me feel very uncomfortable to think of our 2nd Regiment fellows being knocked over, and myself having such a good time here – I should like immensely to go through this summer’s campaign with the Army of the Potomac. I shall never be with a large army again I am afraid – our work will be to make expeditions into the enemy’s country I suppose, what you would like & perform so well – Excuse this small sheet & with love to Mrs. Copeland & the children, believe me Your affte friend Robert G. Shaw

About item:

Lenox Massachusetts, May 06, 1863. Museum of African American History, Boston and Nantucket, 407a-b.

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