By Robert Gould Shaw
At the Boston universal stands one of many nice Civil struggle memorials, a powerful bronze sculpture through Augustus Saint-Gaudens. It depicts the black squaddies of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry marching along their younger white commander, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. whilst the thinker William James devoted the memorial in could 1897, he stirred the assembled crowd with those phrases: "There they march, warm-blooded champions of a higher day for guy. There on horseback between them, within the very behavior as he lived, sits the blue-eyed baby of fortune."In this booklet Shaw speaks for himself with equivalent eloquence via approximately 2 hundred letters he wrote to his friends and family in the course of the Civil battle. The portrait that emerges is of a guy extra divided and complex--though no much less heroic--than the Shaw depicted within the celebrated movie Glory. The pampered son of rich Boston abolitionists, Shaw used to be no abolitionist himself, yet he used to be one of the first patriots to reply to Lincoln's demand troops after the assault on citadel Sumter. After Cedar Mountain and Antietam, Shaw knew the carnage of battle firsthand. Describing dusk at the Antietam battlefield, he wrote, "the crickets chirped, and the frogs croaked, simply as though not anything strange had occurred all day lengthy, and almost immediately the celebrities got here out brilliant, and we lay down one of the lifeless, and slept soundly until eventually sunlight. there have been twenty useless our bodies inside of a rod of me."When Federal warfare goals shifted from an emphasis on restoring the Union to the better objective of emancipation for 4 million slaves, Shaw's mom stressed her son into accepting the command of the North's forefront black regiment, the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts. A paternalist who by no means totally reconciled his personal prejudices approximately black inferiority, Shaw assumed the command with nice reluctance. but, as he knowledgeable his recruits in Readville, Massachusetts, in the course of the early months of 1963, he got here to appreciate their pluck and commitment. "There isn't the least doubt," he wrote his mom, "that we will go away the kingdom, with pretty much as good a regiment, as any that has marched."Despite such expressions of self assurance, Shaw in truth persisted to fret approximately how good his troops may practice below hearth. the last word try got here in South Carolina in July 1863, while the Fifty-fourth led a courageous yet ill-fated cost on fortress Wagner, on the method of Charleston Harbor. As Shaw waved his sword and advised his males ahead, an enemy bullet felled him at the fort's parapet. a couple of hours later the Confederates dumped his physique right into a mass grave with the our bodies of twenty of his males. even though the attack used to be a failure from an army perspective, it proved the proposition to which Shaw had reluctantly committed himself whilst he took command of the Fifty-fourth: that black squaddies may well certainly be scuffling with males. by means of year's finish, sixty new black regiments have been being organized.A earlier number of Shaw's correspondence was once privately released through his relatives in 1864. For this quantity, Russell Duncan has restored many passages passed over from the sooner variation and has supplied targeted explanatory notes to the letters. additionally he has written a long biographical essay that areas the younger colonel and his regiment in historic context.
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Extra info for Blue-Eyed Child of Fortune: The Civil War Letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw
He still entertained ideas of farming with Vezin, but settled into his duties as a clerk in his uncle's mercantile business and counting room. Shaw expected to pay his dues to the company by working in China sometime in the next three years, but he hoped he would get to spend a summer in England, Germany, and Norway before he went. In July, he wrote Vezin, "I expect to do well. " Shaw did not enjoy the import business and was heartily bored with the long hours and day-to-day drudgery of inventory.
By all means, put him up to practical measures to make it a success. " Lincoln did have backbone and historical savvy. Once he announced the Emancipation Proclamation and authorized the raising of black regiments, the war turned. 47 Before the war ended, 178,975 African Americans, one-twelfth of all the soldiers for the Union, joined the armed forces of the North. They fought in 145 infantry regiments, 7 cavalry groups, 13 artillery units, and i engineering batallion. At least 60 of these 166 units fought on the battlefield; the others performed garrison duty.
I must hate them when they talk so about us; and the worst of it is, that they don't say anything against the real abuse, Slavery, but begin on some little insignificant thing. . They generally talk of the Know-nothings and the bullying of emigrants. "25 Shaw maintained this strong sense of national patriotism throughout his short life. As the years to Civil War wound down, Shaw increasingly felt that the Slave Power soiled the fabric of an otherwise great nation. When war came, he was primed to take revenge on the South for the abuse he wrote about on December n, 1855.