54MASS-10 Standard Bearer with Regimental Colors, 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry
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.
Union regiments had two colors. National colors had the name and number of the regiment, and the regimental colors usually had the name of the regiment on a scroll beneath an eagle, or state seal.
The assault on Fort Wagner would be the first real test for this regiment of volunteers. Among those brave soldiers waiting to advance on the fort, was a 23 year old Sergeant William Carney.
As the Regiment advanced on the Confederate defenses, the national colours were carried by Sergeant John Wall. During the advance a Confederate rifle bullet hit Sergeant Wall, and the flag began to fall to the ground. It was Sergeant William Carney who threw his rifle aside and grasped the colors from Sergeant John Wall, before they touched the ground.