I need help with writing an essay on 54th Massachusetts Regiment.
During the Civil War, African-Americans were not recruited as Union soldiers until the formation of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, the first military unit composed entirely of African-American soldiers. The idea of whether African-Americans could be recruited into the Union army was debated until the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, which freed all the slaves in the south. The governor of Massachusetts, John A. Andrew, supported the recruitment of African-American soldiers, but after there was public debate about the fitness of African-American soldiers to command troops, he decided the commissioned officers of the regiment should be white men.
On May 28, 1863, the regiment, composed of 1,000 enlisted African-Americans, paraded through Boston and then were shipped to South Carolina under the command of Robert Gould Shaw. On July 16, 1863, the regiment fought on James Island as a way to divert the Confederacy's attention from the attack on Morris Island in South Carolina. Forty-five soldiers from the regiment died in that action. On July 18, 1863, the regiment led the attack on Fort Wagner on Morris Island, near Charleston, South Carolina. The troops refused to retreat while they hoped reinforcements (which never came) were on their way, and the Colonel Shaw was killed. Half of the approximately 300 soldiers were wounded, killed, or missing. As a result of the regiment's bravery in battle, other African-American units were allowed to be created during the Civil War. A monument by Augustus Saint-Gaudens was later built on the Boston Common to pay homage to this brave regiment. An essay could focus on the ways in which this unit changed people's ideas of what African-Americans were capable of during the Civil War.