Military

From the American Revolution to the Spanish-American War

What was the importance of the 54th and 55th Massachusetts Infantry during the Civil War?

After the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in September 1862, Massachusetts was permitted to organize two black regiments: the 54th and 55th Massachusetts Infantry. The 54th Massachusetts Regiment was the first regiment raised in the North during the Civil War. Black leaders helped to recruit blacks from free states, slave states, and Canada. The regiment fought valiantly at Fort Wagner in July; the regiment commander, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, was killed and buried with his black soldiers. The attack at Fort Wagner was the first major engagement seen by black troops. The regiment objected to the pay differential between black and white enlisted men and served a year without pay rather than accept discriminatory wages.



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