This account of events surrounding the Massachusetts 54th regiment offers readers an opportunity to explore the moral deliberations of both black and white participants. As Cox explores the backgrounds and motivations of the persons involved, he brings them to life through their own words, excerpted from letters, diaries, journals, essays, and speeches. He also provides details within the narrative that help the reader visualize the experiences of the soldiers and grasp the significance of events. For example, he describes the role of the flag bearer in such a way that the reader understands the importance of the flag as a military marker and the danger that attends the flag bearer in battle.
Cox also observes details of historical location, noting that the newly formed regiment marches over the death site of Crispus Attucks on its way to board a ship in Boston harbor and that the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow comments on having seen the new regiment in his diary. He connects events with other historical figures, observing that Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, treats the wounded at Fort Wagner and that the 54th regiment serves alongside the son of John Quincy Adams, who leads an all-black cavalry unit.
Although Cox shows obvious admiration for the achievements of the 54th regiment, his credentials as a journalist are evident. He neither vilifies nor glorifies the participants in these events, but reveals the doubts and concerns that each has about the decisions that must...
(The entire section is 619 words.)