Robert Gould Shaw

Born October 10, 1837 Boston, Massachusetts Died July 18, 1863 Morris Island, South Carolina

Union colonel of the all-black Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Regiment

Led the assault on Fort Wagner in South Carolina that proved the courage of black soldiers in combat

Robert Gould Shaw became a hero as commanding officer of the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Regiment—the first allblack regiment to be organized in the North. Black men were not allowed to join the Union Army in the early days of the Civil War. Even when the law was changed in mid-1862, many people still doubted whether black men could be good soldiers. Prominent black leaders and abolitionists (people who wanted to eliminate slavery) organized the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts and selected Shaw as its leader in the hope of changing people's views. In July 1863, the regiment led an assault on Fort Wagner, a Confederate stronghold guarding the harbor in Charleston, South Carolina. The bravery of Shaw and the Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts during the assault convinced people across the North that black soldiers deserved to fight for the freedom of their race.

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