centerlogobigAAD logo


Foreword by Alex Boyle

Robert Gould Shaw was a young Bostonian with impeccable family connections, strongly abolitionist parents, and battle experience. Born 10 October 1837, he was the only son of Francis Gould and Sarah Sturgis Shaw. Socially conscious and deeply devoted to intellectual and spiritual pursuits, the Shaws counted among their friends and associates such thinkers, writers, and reformers as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Lloyd Garrison, and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Shaw RGRobert Gould Shaw

From 1856 until March 1859, Shaw attended Harvard University, but he withdrew before receiving his degree, entering his uncle's business in New York instead. After Lincoln's election and the secession of several southern states, Shaw joined the Seventh New York Regiment and marched with it to the defense of Washington in April 1861. The original plans had been for the regiment to march through Baltimore, but due to the attack there on members of the 6th Massachusetts just days before, it was decided that the 7th New York would board steamers and land at Annapolis. From Annapolis, they were transported by rail into Washington. Some companies of the 7th were quartered at Willard's, Brown's and the National Hotel, but Shaw's company, with a few others, was assigned living quarters in the House of Representatives. 

The unit served only thirty days, but in the army Shaw at last found a vocation that commanded his enthusiasm and respect. In May, he joined the Second Massachusetts Infantry as First Lieutenant. Shaw was serving as a captain in the 2nd Massachusetts when he was tapped by Massachusetts Governor John Andrew for a special assignment. Shaw was to raise and command the first regiment of black troops organized in a Northern state. All the previous 11 “colored" regiments had been raised principally from freed slaves in occupied areas. Shaw went about the organization of his command, recruiting free blacks from all over New England and some from beyond. The regiment was mustered into service on May 13, 1863, with Shaw as its colonel, and was sent to the South Carolina coast to take part in the operations against the cradle of secession, Charleston. After leading the regiment in smaller actions on James Island, at Legaresville on July 13, and Secessionville on July 16, Shaw moved the regiment over to Morris Island. 

On July 18, 1863, he led the 54th, in conjunction with two brigades of white troops, in an assault on Confederate Battery Wagner. In the unsuccessful charge, the black troops proved themselves to be fully capable of standing up to enemy fire but lost about one quarter of their men, including Colonel Shaw. The rebels in the battery were so outraged by the Union commanders arming blacks that they decided to insult the white officer by burying him in a common grave with his black enlisted men. But Shaw's parents, when they heard of it, were pleased and believed that was the way their son would have wanted it. Robert Gould Shaw is best remembered in history as the brave colonel who led the 54th Massachusetts in their fearless charge at Fort Wagner. The artist for the above painting, Guiseppe “Joseph” Fagnani was an early member of the Union League Club.

Screen Shot 2017 07 01 at 11.25.24

Sword belonging to commander of black Civil War unit found


Screen Shot 2017 07 23 at 01.23.39Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Boston - Image courtesy Wikimedia

BOSTON (AP) — The sword that belonged to the commanding officer of the first all-black regiment raised in the North during the U.S. Civil War has been recovered after being lost to history for more than 150 years.

The British-made sword carried into battle by Col. Robert Gould Shaw was stolen after he was killed during the 54th Massachusetts Voluntary Infantry's doomed attack on Fort Wagner, South Carolina, in 1863, a battle portrayed in the 1989 Oscar-winning movie "Glory."

To read more:

Main Image Courtesy - The Boston Globe

Screen Shot 2017 07 01 at 11.25.24

You may also like to read:

*  A Retired British Doctor Is Hoping To Trace The Descendants of Allied Soldiers And Nurses

*  New England Air Museum

*  Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, New York City Waterfront

*  War And Photography Intersect In A Powerful Exhibit

*  Chelsea Pensioners Honoured for Their Service during World War II


About the Author



AAD REPORTS   Reports, news and opinion from