By Robert Gould Shaw
At the Boston universal stands one of many nice Civil battle memorials, a powerful bronze sculpture by way of Augustus Saint-Gaudens. It depicts the black infantrymen 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 might 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 ebook Shaw speaks for himself with equivalent eloquence via approximately 2 hundred letters he wrote to his friends and family through the Civil struggle. 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 was once no abolitionist himself, yet he was once one of the first patriots to reply to Lincoln's demand troops after the assault on fortress Sumter. After Cedar Mountain and Antietam, Shaw knew the carnage of conflict 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 celebs got here out vibrant, and we lay down one of the lifeless, and slept soundly till sunlight. there have been twenty lifeless our bodies inside a rod of me."When Federal conflict goals shifted from an emphasis on restoring the Union to the better objective of emancipation for 4 million slaves, Shaw's mom harassed 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 educated 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 nearly as good a regiment, as any that has marched."Despite such expressions of self belief, Shaw in truth endured to fret approximately how good his troops may practice less than hearth. the last word try out got here in South Carolina in July 1863, whilst the Fifty-fourth led a courageous yet ill-fated cost on citadel 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 number of hours later the Confederates dumped his physique right into a mass grave with the our bodies of twenty of his males. even if the attack used to be a failure from an army point of view, it proved the proposition to which Shaw had reluctantly committed himself while he took command of the Fifty-fourth: that black squaddies may perhaps certainly be scuffling with males. via year's finish, sixty new black regiments have been being organized.A earlier collection of Shaw's correspondence used to be privately released through his kinfolk in 1864. For this quantity, Russell Duncan has restored many passages passed over from the sooner variation and has supplied specific explanatory notes to the letters. additionally he has written a long biographical essay that locations the younger colonel and his regiment in ancient context.
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Additional resources for Blue-Eyed Child of Fortune: The Civil War Letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw
An abolitionist, Andrew wanted to prove that black men would fight—which would in turn prove that they were men and thus entitled to be free citizens. He also thought that black enlistment would take the pressure off his state to meet its enlistment quotas. If Lincoln failed to let blacks fight, Andrew would have to fill quotas with factory workers, a thought loathed by business interests in this most industrialized state in the Union. Thus businessmen supported the Emancipation Proclamation out of self-interest as well as the conviction that it was the moral and egalitarian thing to do.
He "made such fools" of his friends, none of whom recognized him until he spoke. At the party he drank too much champagne. M. M. and left him feeling "rather seedy . . " As he got bolder with his freedom, he took a trip to Norway with two other students from Hanover, only informing his parents of it once he returned. " When his mother counseled him against "sprees," Shaw countered that he was enjoying his youth. 0 English pounds and felt she had to apologize. Shaw replied to his mother, "I won't be too hard upon you .
Forbes reported the good news that "our Rulers . . " Four days later, Secretary of War Edwin M. "49 Andrew understood the importance of making the venture a success, and he staked his reputation and career upon his conviction that blacks would fight and fight well. After all, there were many who hoped the experiment would fail and some who were sure it would. The latter gave several reasons: a rebellion by whites should be put down by whites; blacks would not enlist; blacks were too cowardly to fight and would run when faced with white Southerners; blacks were not intelligent enough to learn drill; blacks with guns would return to the savage instincts of the jungle; Southerners would become more determined to keep up the fight; white soldiers would not serve alongside black soldiers; blacks would demoralize white soldiers.
Blue-Eyed Child of Fortune: The Civil War Letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw by Robert Gould Shaw