54th Massachusetts Infantry History

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How it began
The 54th Massachusetts infantry came to be on January 1, 1863 when the Emancipation Proclamation said African Americans who were healthy could fight in the United States armed forces. Governor John Andrew of Massachusetts called for the first black soldiers of the civil war. This brought many people & 1007 African Americans some as young as 16 & 37 white officers creating the 54th Massachusetts infantry.
First Pre-Battle Meeting
On May 28, 1863 the 54th gathered at the Boston common to prepare for the battle fields in the south. According to the south any captured black solders would be returned to slavery & any captured white commanders of the blacks would be executed. At the close of their parade Governor Jackson said,
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Lt. Col. Hopper took control of the regiment starting June 18, 1864. After almost a month Colonel Edward returned on July 16th. On April 19th 1861 they were given equal pay.
A tribute to the 54th was built in 1898 on the Boston Commons, is a part of the Boston Black Heritage Trail. A plaster of this monument is displayed in the entryway to the U.S. paintings galleries at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1900. The monument was in a poem called “For the Union Dead”-”Two months after marching through Boston, half the regiment was dead; at the dedication, William James could almost hear the bronze men breathe.” Even though the 54th deserved this monument Shaw’s father wanted no monument “except the ditch, where his son’s body was thrown and lost with his soldiers.”
After the War
The Union asked the Confederates at Wagner to return Shaw’s body, but they wouldn’t saying they buried him with his soldiers. Shaw’s father was proud that he had been buried in that manner. He said “We hold that a soldier’s most appropriate burial-place is on the field where he has fallen.”