54MASS-01 Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry
Robert Gould Shaw (October 10, 1837 – July 18, 1863) was an American soldier in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Born into a prominent abolitionist family, he accepted command of the first all-black regiment (54th Massachusetts) in the Northeast and encouraged the men to refuse their pay until it was equal to the white troops’ wage.
At the Second Battle of Fort Wagner, a beachhead near Charleston, South Carolina, Shaw was killed while leading his men to the parapet of the Confederate held fort. Although they were overwhelmed and driven back, Shaw’s leadership passed into legend with a unit that inspired tens of thousands more African-Americans to enlist for the Union and contribute to its ultimate victory.
The 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was an infantry regiment that saw extensive service in the Union Army during the American Civil War. The unit was the first African-American regiment organized in the northern states during the Civil War. Authorized by the Emancipation proclamation, the regiment consisted of African-American enlisted men commanded by white officers.