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The Gallant Charge of the 54th Massachusetts

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The Gallant Charge of the 54th Massachusetts (Image1)
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Your Price: $ 65.00
Item Number: Mem9558
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Colored Infantry Regiment

Fort Wagner, South Carolina, July 18, 1863

The death of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw leading the assault

Full color lithograph that measures 14 1/4 x 10 1/2. Imprint below the battle scene: Published by Currier & Ives, 152 Nassau St., New York. Entered according to act of Congress, in the year 1863, by Currier & Ives, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New York. "THE GALLANT CHARGE OF THE FIFTY FOURTH MASSACHUSETTS COLORED REGIMENT, On the Rebel works at Fort Wagner, Morris Island, near Charleston, July 18th, 1863, and death of Colonel Rob't G. Shaw."

The lithograph is complete with 1 inch borders on the left and right sides. There is a 1/2 inch border at the top, and approximately a 2 inch border at the bottom which includes the imprinted legend as listed above. The colors are vibrant and this excellent lithograph features the historic 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry Regiment, the first black regiment to fight in battle during the Civil War, charging upon the impregnable Confederate works at Fort Wagner, S.C. The legendary black regiment were led in this heroic charge by their gallant young 25 year old Colonel Robert Gould Shaw who can be seen at the upper center of the print. Gould has just been hit by Confederate bullets and clutches his chest as he is about to fall, his sword raised above his head. Just behind Colonel Shaw is the regimental colors with 54th Mass. emblazoned across the red and white stripes as they are being brought forward by a negro soldier of the regiment's color guard.

There is a small, very light stain in the border area at the bottom of the print (below the words, "Morris Island"). It is in a blank area and does not affect the imprint, or content, in any way. If the print were to be framed, you can easily hide this with your mats. Overall in excellent condition.

This very desirable lithograph was published in the 1960's for the Civil War Centennial celebration, and was executed from the original 1863 rendering by Currier & Ives. Anything related to the historic 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment is highly prized by Civil War collectors!

The 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment:

On January 26, 1863, Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew, a long time abolitionist, secured permission from the government to raise black regiments. The War Department's approval resulted in the recruitment of the 54th Massachusetts Colored Regiment, the first black regiment to fight in the Civil War. To lead them, Andrew chose Robert Gould Shaw, one of a small group of Union officers who believed that black troops could be trained to match the fighting quality of white soldiers. Feeling he had an obligation to prove this, Shaw accepted the colonelcy of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry who were organized and drilled under his guidance. Shaw was a veteran officer of the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry, who was wounded on September 17, 1862, at the battle of Antietam, Maryland. When the 54th Mass. paraded through Boston, bound for South Carolina, the youthful colonel's colored troops made a wonderful impression. After reaching the Carolina coast and doing some routine duty, General Quincy A. Gillmore decided to attack the several Rebel forts that guarded the main ship's channel into Charleston. Shaw's troops saw their first battle action 2 days earlier in an attack on James Island, on July 16, 1863, losing 46 men. On July 18th, Colonel Shaw was given the important assignment of leading the Union assault on the Confederate bastion known as Fort Wagner. At 7:45 p.m. the black volunteers stormed across the beach. The Rebel musketry and artillery fire had a devastating effect on the charging negro soldiers. After being pinned down in a ditch, Colonel Shaw scrambled uphill toward a palmetto log parapet leading the charge. The gallant officer reached the top first, stood, turned, and shouted, "Onward 54th!" He suddenly collapsed, killed instantly by a rifle ball to the chest. Fort Wagner was never captured, and Colonel Shaw was buried in a trench grave along with his brave negro troops. Today, a monument stands in Boston's Public Garden, honoring Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and his gallant black soldiers!

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