The Second Battle of Fort Wagner on 18 July 1863 was the first appearance of African-American troops in a major Civil War battle. Union troops charged a heavily defended Confederate battery guarding the harbor at Charlestown, SC. The 54th Massachusetts Infantry, composed of white officers and black enlisted men, suffered heavy losses in the heroic but doomed attack, as did the all-white regiments which followed them up the beach. The battle was depicted in the popular 1989 film Glory. This stirring print shows the 54th surging over the Confederate fortifications, engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the defenders. Colonel Robert Gould Shaw stands on the wall by his flag-bearer, clutching his chest, having apparently suffered his fatal wound. "No one else in the late nineteenth century produced such heroic depictions of black soldiers"--Neely & Holzer, Union Image, page 218 and plate 21.
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