The 54th Regiment of Massachusetts was one of the most famous African-American regiments that served during the Civil War for their bravery and their bold charge at the Second Battle of Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863. Almost half of the men died there, including Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the commanding officer of the regiment. The bravery of these men can never be matched. These men charged the fort knowing that they would be wiped out, for they had to run in sand across an open area to reach the fort. This gave the Confederates easy targets to pick off. The sand weighed them down, and bullets and cannon balls rained on them from above. These men also enlisted knowing that if they were captured, they would be sold back into slavery, or tortured and killed. Even with all these dangers lurking around them, they were one of the hardest workers in the Civil War.
African-American soldiers in the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry proved themselves to be reputable soldiers, as they worked in artillery, infantry, and supported other army functions by working as carpenters, nurses, and spies. Although they were recruited on the promise of the same pay as white soldiers, which was a pay of thirteen dollars a month, the African-American soldiers were only paid ten dollars a month with the Army keeping three more dollars for clothing. At the end of the month, white soldiers were paid thirteen dollars with an added allowance of three dollars, while African-American officers were paid three dollars less with three more dollars detained. It was a common idea throughout all African-American soldiers to be paid the full wage for which they were promised. So, many African-American soldiers refused any pay until June 15, 1864, when Congress gave equal pay to all soldiers, repealing the racist acts intended.
During the Civil War, there were a total of 186,097 soldiers who were of African descent. Both freed and runaway slaves joined the Union Army and Navy on a fight to support their cause. When the issue of including African-Americans regiments in the fight was raised, the idea was challenged with uncertainty and anger by many officials in the Union. They were concerned of the response of the border states, the reaction of white soldiers in the army, and of the ability at which the African-American soldiers could fight. On July 17, 1862, Congress granted African-American soldiers enrollment in the Union army, but local militia had already enlisted African-American soldiers to provide manpower and to protect their towns. Although African-American soldiers only made up 10% of the army, their casualties and mortality rate was significantly higher than that of the white soldiers, as 20% of enrolled African-American soldiers were killed. White officers and soldiers had thought that African-American soldiers lacked the ability to fight properly, but again and again did the African-American regiments prove their importance in the outcome of the Civil War and the capabilities to withstand the fighting.
The Civil War is one of the most illustrious wars in American history expanding beyond racial rights, freedoms, and the meanings which control disparity and equality between different countries and forms of race and cultures. The Civil War ranged from 1861 to 1865, and was focused on freeing African-Americans and bringing the South back to the Union. The outcome of the war included the collapsing of the Confederacy and the abolishment of slavery. Four years of bloody combat led to the death and annihilation of 750,000 soldiers. This war determined greater unknown acts of courage and bravery that led to the decision and restoring of the national unity of the country and the influence against racial discrimination. Moreover, the African-Americans contributed greatly to the success of our nation, and we should recognize these acts of courage and fearless determination.