Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Undying Glory: The Story of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment is a well-researched account of the first all-black regiment recruited in the North during the Civil War. In a narration rich with anecdotes, Clinton Cox presents a historical account of events surrounding the formation of the regiment and chronicles the contributions of those who helped make an all-black regiment a reality. He also describes the obstacles presented to men of color who wanted to serve their country, including policies that initially forbade their service and later denied them equal pay and promotion.

From the beginning of the war, African Americans petition to join the Union Army but are refused. John Andrew, the governor of Massachusetts, leads the effort to create an all-black regiment, assisted by abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass, who uses the power of his newspaper and his considerable speaking eloquence to attract recruits. When the roster is complete, the Massachusetts 54th regiment will have drawn recruits from twenty-two states, including the sons of Frederick Douglass and Martin Delaney and the grandson of preacher Sojourner Truth.

Initially, black troops are used as laborers and are denied equal pay and promotion. When the regiment is ordered to Charleston Harbor in South Carolina to assist in the assault on Fort Wagner, however, the courageous performance of the black soldiers in this engagement generates a positive response from government...

(The entire section is 488 words.)