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54th Massachusetts Regiment Essay

1187 words - 5 pages

Early summer morning on July 18, 1863, the 54th regiment prepared to take charge on Fort Wagner. These men were extraneously hungry and tired but were more than ready to prove themselves in the battlefield. As the sun set that day on Fort Wagner, Shaw set up his troops onto the frontline knowing they were overly exhausted. Shaw soon then raised his sword and led his men down the beach to what later meant his and 54th’s greatest achievement. The pace of the men grew quicker and the walking evolved into charging towards the fort. The Confederates on Fort Wagner took initial advantage and seized fire against them but Shaw still pushed through. He and his regiment that began slowly decreasing still managed to get on the fort but they were outstandingly out numbered. Shaw did not give up hope amongst the confederacy and told his men to carry onward; furthermore, as Shaw waved his sword and yelled out, “Forward 54th!” He then faced his own utter defeat by three forceful gunshots that instantly killed him on sight. What seemed to be a terrible loss does not lessen how courageous those men were. The battle at Fort Wagner was a turning point in white Americans perception of African American troops because of their bravery and dedication they gave in this battle.
In the beginning, Lincoln argued that the Union was not fighting to demolish slavery but to prevent the collapse of the United States. Abolitionists were opposed to that and felt that the war was based on ending slavery. They also argued that African Americans should be able to enlist in the Union and be able to fight for their country as well. Near the end of the 1862 it was assumed by Democrats that Lincoln would not issue the final Emancipation Proclamation. They were wrong and the Proclamation was only applicable only against states that were in rebellion. Lincoln stated that, “Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. . . . The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. . . . The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. . . . In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free. . . . We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.” The president argued that being a free nation we must be able to free the slaves by saving the country in the process. On January 1, 1863 he signed the Proclamation excluding the border states near Tennessee and Union areas of Louisiana and Virginia. The Proclamation did not exceed on forever freeing the slaves but allowed the enlistment of African American Soldiers and sailors in the Union forces.
The thought of armed African Americans to southerners would become a horrid nightmare. Though it was not something that sprung in Lincoln’s mind to have black soldiers, this was something brought up even in the beginning of the Civil War. Many people predicted that they were just waiting take jobs left behind when whites had gone away to war. That was...

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