The following was a lecture presented by Kathy Dahle back in June of 1997 to The American Civil War History Special Interest Group which, for AOL subscribers only, still meets every Thursday night at 11 PM ET in the Golden Gates chatroom.  KEYWORD: Roots > chats > Golden Gates.

A BIOGRAPHY OF ROBERT GOULD SHAW
by
Kathy Dhalle  

Robert Gould Shaw was born in Boston on October 10, 1837, the only son of Francis George and Sarah Blake Sturgis Shaw.  His grandfather Robert G. Shaw was a merchant who had successfully invested in the growing commerce of the country.  There were four other children in the family... all girls  Anna, Josephine, Susannah and Ellen.  Shaw's father had no need to work to support his family and so he worked for the good of the people.  Their participation in anti-slavery activities increased as the years passed and they counted among their friends such individuals as William Lloyd Garrison, Gov. John A. Andrew, Charles Sumner, Lydia Marie Child and Wendell Phillips.  When Robert was five, his father bought a large estate in West Roxbury adjacent to Brook Farm, site of an experimental Utopian society.  Brook Farm inhabitants hoped to experience a more wholesome, simple way of life.

Shaw's father had contributed money to the farm and was close personal friends with George Ripley, the founder.  So it wasn't surprising that the family also spent much of their time there, sharing the company of such notables as Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne.  While living in West Roxbury, Shaw attended the primary school of Miss Mary Peabody. In 1846, the family moved to Staten Island so that Robert's mother could be near her personal physician.  Robert was sen to a small private school, and a year later, although the family was Unitarian, to St. John's College Roman Catholic School at Fordham.  From that school he wrote  "I wish you hadn't sent me here while you are on the island, because I want to be there, and now I have to stay at this old place.  I'm sure I shan't want to come here after vacation for I hate it like everything."  In September he ran away from school and came home, but his father took him right back again.  His mother worried about his apparent rebellious streak, and asked him to write her every week, but Robert would have none of it.  "I don't want to write every week, it's too much trouble, and I shall only write when I want something.  If you think I'm sick when I don't write, you can send for me to come and tell you..." In January of 1851, the family sailed for Europe and Rob spent the summer in Switzerland.  In the fall, he was sent to the school of M. Roulet in Neuchatel and spent two years reading novels and plays in English and French, and playing the violin.  He then went on to study in Italy for a year and when he was 16 (1854), he left his family to study in Hanover, Germany.  Before returning to America with some young friends in 1855, he made a tour through Norway and Sweden.  He entered Harvard College at the opening of the August 1856 term, becoming a member of the famous fighting class of 1860.  He was a member of the Freshman Boat Club, and also a member of the Debating Society.  He played football with the Freshmen, walked the byways of Cambridge with his classmates and went skating at Fresh Pond.  His sister Susie, born next after him, was attending school in Cambridge and he visited her there often.  He did not graduate from Harvard, but left the school after completing his junior year in order to take advantage of an offer from his uncle, Henry P.Sturgis, of a clerkship in his mercantile offices in New York. Although he liked the bustle of the city and all it offered, he never much enjoyed his new position, feeling he had no knack for trade. During the summer of 1860, Shaw's interest in politics peaked.  Abe Lincoln was running for President and it is more than likely that Robert cast his first and only ballot for the Republican candidate.  With Lincoln's election came the secession of South Carolina and the threat of hostilities between the north and the south.  On April 5th, just one week before Fort Sumter was fired on, Robert penned the following to his sister Susie  "We have exciting news today from the South.  It is now almost certain that Mr. Lincoln is going to re-enforce the United States forts, and in that case the Southerners will almost surely resist...For my part I want to see the Southern States either brought back by force, or else recognized as independent."  So he wouldn't be left behind if war did break out, he joined the 7th Regiment of the New York State Militia.  On the morning of April 12th, a mortar was fired from Fort Johnson, S.C., exploding directly above Fort Sumter.  This signaled the beginning of the war.  Three days later, Lincoln called for 75,000 men to rush to the defense of the nation's Capitol.  New York's 7th was one of the first to respond.  Shaw's parents had traveled to Nassau and Havana in March, and at the time of his departure, they were still abroad.  Before he left, he wrote his father  "When you get home you will hear why I am not here to receive you...We go off tomorrow afternoon, and hope to be in Washington the following day.  I want very much to go, and with me, as with most others, the only hard part is leaving our  friends..."  To his mother he wrote  "We all feel that, if we can get to Washington before Virginia begins to make trouble, we shall not have much fighting...The Massachusetts men passed through New York this morning...Won't it be grand to meet the men from all the states, East and West, down there ready to fight for the country, as the old fellows did in the Revolution?"  To his sister Susie  "You mustn't think, dear Sue, that any of us are going to be killed; for they are collecting such a force there that an attack would be insane, that is, unless the Southerners can get their army up in an impossibly short space of time."  The next day, the unit marched through the streets of New York City on their way to the ferry, which would carry them to the New Jersey train depot.  One man who marched with Shaw wrote of that day  "It was worth a life, that march. Only one who passed, as we did, through that tempest of cheers, two miles long, can know the terrible enthusiasm of the occasion.  I could hardly hear the rattle of our own gun carriages, and only twice the music of our band came to me, muffled and quelled by the uproar."  From New Jersey, they traveled to Philadelphia.  The original plans had been for the regiment to march through Baltimore, but due to the attack there on members of the 6th Massachusetts just days before, it was decided that the 7th New York would board steamers and land at Annapolis.  From Annapolis, they were transported by rail into Washington.  Some companies of the 7th were quartered at Willard's, Brown's and the National Hotel, but Shaw's company, with a few others, was assigned living quarters in the House of Representatives.  He wrote, "I have no doubt that we are the best-behaved Congress that has been in session for a good while..."  The following day, the regiment was sworn into service in the presence of Abraham Lincoln.  All things considered, Shaw's duty was fairly pleasant.  He stood guard, did his share of a private's menial chores, and during his spare time, walked around the city.  On April 30th, he accompanied Rufus King, a fellow private, to visit Secretary of State William H. Seward. King's father was president of Columbia College and when he expressed a desire to meet the President, Seward gave him a note and sent them on the their way.  Of his meeting with Lincoln, Shaw wrote the following  "After waiting a few minutes in an antechamber, we were shown into a room where Mr. Lincoln was sitting at a desk perfectly covered with papers of every description.  He got up and shook hands with us both, in the most cordial way, asked us to be seated, and seemed quite glad to have us come.  It is really too bad to call him one of the ugliest men in the country, for I have seldom seen a pleasanter or more kind-hearted looking one, and he has certainly a very striking face..." While in Washington, Robert had decided to stay in the army and applied for a permanent commission in a Massachusetts regiment.  On May 11th, 1861, he received a commission as second lieutenant in the 2nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.  He left the 7th and traveled north. Shaw arrived at Camp Andrew in West Roxbury for training on May 18th. The 2nd Massachusetts would be the first and only unit to camp and train on the grounds of the former Brook Farm site.  Robert must have felt very much at home in his old neighborhood.  On the 8th of July, the unit left for Boston and paraded through the streets before embarking for Martinsburg, Va.  From there they marched toward Charlestown, where only two years before, John Brown had been tried and hung.  On the morning of July 18th, the 2nd Massachusetts marched into Harper's Ferry.  One of Robert's duties during these idle days was to apprehend runaway slaves and return them to their masters.  He found this duty painful, but felt bound by government policy.  During his free time, he scoured the area and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. In late July, the unit left Harper's Ferry and marched over to Maryland Heights...just a stone's throw away. During his idle hours, his thoughts strayed  to a young girl he had met just months before...Anna Kneeland Haggerty (Annie), was a close friend with Robert's sister Susie.  Robert had taken her to the opera earlier in the year and couldn't get her out of his mind. On August 19th, Shaw heard for the first time the sound of hostile musketry and members of the 2nd exchanged fire with Rebel cavalrymen.  The unit spent the remaining time escorting wagon trains, guarding bridges and fords, conducting drills and inspections, and performing picket duty.  On August 20th, the regiment was ordered to head east and join up with the main body of General Nathaniel Banks's Corps at Darnestown.  For nearly two months, the 2nd remained idle and Robert kept himself busy with company paperwork, drills and reading his favorite books.  Late on October 22nd, the 2nd was ordered to march.  The Brigade of Colonel Edward Baker was said to be in trouble at a place called Ball's Bluff.

By the time they got there, the battle was over and the Federal forces licking their wounds.  They had been routed by a superior Confederate force.  Among the units involved were the 15th and 20th Massachusetts.  Robert found several of is friends lying wounded, among them Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., who had a ball through his leg and one through his lungs.  Holmes would survive and later serve as Supreme Court justice.  Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's were spent quietly while the regiment held winter quarters in Frederick, Maryland.  During this time, Shaw's father visited him in camp, and  on one occasion, his sister Susie and Annie Haggerty.  In late February, the 2nd boarded trains and once again headed for Charlestown.  This time they camped in the courthouse, and spent many hours reading through the trial records pertaining to John Brown.  In mid-March, McClellan lost his job and the Peninsula Campaign in eastern Virginia was beginning to unfold.  The regiment was soon ordered to march for Winchester to assist in driving Stonewall Jackson from the Valley. But when they got there, they found that Jackson had disappeared into the hills.  So the 2nd, in the lead of Banks's Corps, followed in pursuit.  Although there were frequent artillery brawls, no real skirmishes took place.  In May, Stanton ordered Banks's Corps be split with some regiments going to Frederick and others, of which the 2nd was a part, to march to Strasburg. During this month, Robert for the first time considered serving as an officer in a black regiment.  On the 19th he wrote his father  "You will be surprised to see that I am in Washington.  I came down with Major Copeland to see if I could assist him at all, in a plan he has made for getting up a black regiment.  He says, very justly, that it would be much wiser to enlist men in the North, who have had the courage to run away, and have enlist men in the North, who have had the courage to run away, and have already suffered for their freedom, than to take them all from contrabands at Port Royal and other places...Copeland wants me to take hold of the black regiment with him, if he can get permission to raise it, and offers me a major's commission in it."  From Washington, Shaw went to Staten Island for a brief visit, leaving for Winchester on May 23rd to rejoin his regiment.  While Robert was on his way back to his unit, Stonewall Jackson was launching his famous campaign into the Shenandoah Valley...one in which he would repeatedly assault and intimidate Banks's Corps, and finally drive them back across the Potomac.  Banks had hoped to summer in Strasburg, but Jackson had other plans for him.  With each assault, Banks was finally forced to order a retreat and the Corps moved south, halting at Kernstown to find a house to place the wounded.  Jackson continued pressing against the Federal line until the early hours of May 25th, when the Union outposts were driven in and a battle began.  As daylight came on, the Federal line broke and Banks's forces fell back through the streets of Winchester.  Along the main streets, they were harassed by Confederate soldiers firing at them from parallel streets.  Adding to the difficulty was the fact that many civilians had armed themselves and were firing at the Yankees from their windows and doorways.  Here Shaw's company commander, Captain Mudge (who would later be killed at Gettysburg), was wounded in street fighting.  Shaw's life would also be spared that day...by his gold watch which turned aside a rifle bullet.  "The ball would undoubtedly have entered my stomach, and as it was, bruised my hip a good deal.  The watch was in the pocket of my vest, though I almost always carry it in my fob.  I felt a violent blow and a burning sensation in my side..." After the battle, Shaw reported that, in his company of fifty, one was filled, eight wounded and two taken prisoner in the retreat.  Banks's force as a whole was badly cut up, and he had to bring all his resources into play, to keep the retreat from becoming a full rout.  The 2nd Massachusetts brought up the retreat of the Corps, crossing back over the Potomac and camping up the river at Williamsport.  On June 10th, Banks's Corps crossed back into Virginia and once again marched through Winchester...this time with little problem from the civilians who hid in their houses.  Crossing the Blue Ridge at Front Royal, the 2nd ended up becoming part of the command of General John Pope.  In July, Shaw was offered a position on brigade commander General Gordon's staff, and he had accepted.  In August, the 2nd Massachusetts once again heard the sound of musketry at a place called Cedar Mountain.  Banks's Corps had once again been surprised by Jackson, and Gordon's Brigade was sent in to plug up a hole in the Federal line. Although the battle was decided in favor of Jackson, little was accomplished.  After the battle, Jackson withdrew his forces behind the Rapidan and would eventually defeat Pope at Second Bull Run.  The 2nd, which formed the extreme right of Pope's line at this battle would not see action however. On August 10th, Robert was promoted to Captain. On September 15th, the 2nd Massachusetts found themselves near Antietam Creek.  By this time, McClellan had been restored to his former post and the 2nd was part of his army.  The 2nd had been assigned to the 12th Corps and just that morning, they had received a new commander, General Mansfield.  Early in the morning of the 17th, the battle known as the most bloodiest day in the Civil War began near the Dunker Church. During the fight here, Shaw's men moved forward to a little orchard which was bound by a rail fence.  This area today is known as the east woods and sits on the flank to the famous cornfield, which changed hands so many times that day.  Finding themselves opposite an attacking foe, General Gordon ordered a cross fire on the enemy's line which "we soon discovered, did a great deal of execution, and saved the Third Wisconsin from being completely used up.  It was the prettiest thing we have ever done, and our loss was small..."  Mansfield's Corps advanced through the cornfield, driving the Rebels before them. Of the site that met him, Shaw wrote  ..."such a mass of dead and wounded men, mostly Rebels...I never saw before; it was a terrible sight, and our men had to be very careful to avoid treading on them; many were mangled and torn to pieces of artillery, but most of them had been wounded by musketry fire.  We halted right among them and the men did everything they could for their comfort, giving them water from their canteens and trying to place them in easy positions...We heard about this time that General Mansfield was mortally wounded.  He has been with us only three days but everyone liked him..."  Antietam would be a series of battles that would end in more of a draw than any Union success, however, President Lincoln would use Lee's withdrawal as a reason to issue his Emancipation Proclamation.  Robert's reaction to the Proclamation was not one of anti-slavery, but one typical of the men in the field.  "So the Proclamation of Emancipation, has come at last, or rather its forerunner.  I suppose you are all very much excited about it.  For my part, I can't see what practical good it can do now.  Wherever our army has been there remain no slaves, and the Proclamation will not free them where we don't go...Jeff Davis will soon issue a proclamation threatening to hang every prisoner they take, and will make this a war of extermination." Early in October, Robert was offered a place on the staff of his former tutor, Frank Barlow.  He declined as he preferred to command his own company.  The winter was spent in paper work and domestic chores, drilling, keeping warm and taking furloughs home.  Sometime in the fall, while in camp at Sharpsburg, Robert proposed to Annie Haggerty by mail.  Because Annie had requested that Robert burn all of her letters, it is unknown what her immediate response was.  On December 10th, the 2nd moved to Stafford Courthouse.  Shortly after Christmas, Robert visited Annie and her mother at the Haggerty farm in Lenox, Massachusetts. Here for the first time, they discussed their future together and Annie promised herself to him.  Back in camp, he wrote his future wife  "I have thought a great deal of you--indeed almost all the time since I left Lenox-- and of my visit to you, especially the last part of it.  O, dear! you don't know how much I should like to see you again! On February 2nd, Robert's father received a letter from Massachusetts Governor Andrew, offering Robert the Colonelcy of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, which was to be the first Negro regiment raised in the free states of the Northeast.  Norwood Penrose Hallowell, a Philadelphia born Quaker was offered the Lieutenant-Colonelcy and accepted.  Francis George hand delivered Andrew's offer to his son at camp in Virginia.  Robert's immediate response was to decline the offer.  However, after talking to several of his fellow officers, writing to Annie for  advice, and  receiving an overwhelming letter from his overbearing mother, Robert changed his mind.  On February 5th, he wired his father to destroy the letter of declination he had written and tell Andrew that he accepted the offer.  On hearing the news, his mother wrote  "God rewards a hundred-fold every good aspiration of his children, and this is my reward for asking [for] my children not early honors, but souls to see the right and courage to follow it. Now I feel ready to die, for I see you willing to give your support to the cause of truth that is lying crushed and bleeding." Robert arrived in Boston on February 15th and recruiting began in earnest.  On the 22nd, the first group of men were ordered to Camp Meigs at Readville, which sat on the Boston and Providence Railroad, just a few miles south of the city.  While Robert prepared the paperwork and interviewed prospective officers, Edward "Ned" Hallowell, brother of the new Lieutenant-Colonel, got down to the business of setting up camp and training the new recruits. On March 31st, Shaw was promoted to Major and on April 17th, Colonel of the first black regiment raised in the north.  On May 2nd, Robert Gould Shaw married Anna Kneeland Haggerty in The Church of the Ascension on Fifth Avenue and 10th Street in New York City.  They had decided to marry before the unit left Boston despite their parents' misgivings.  They spent their brief honeymoon at the Haggerty farm in Lenox, Massachusetts.  While there, he received a telegram from advising him that the Governor had plans of sending the unit off in less than three weeks.  "Oh how glum I feel," he had written his sister Josephine.  Also at this time, he learned that Norwood Hallowell would be staying behind to command the 55th Massachusetts, which would be formed from the overflow of men arriving to enlist.  His brother "Ned" was promoted to fill his vacant position in the 54th.  On May 18th, the regiment having reached is full complement of men, received their regimental flags from Governor Andrew.  Just prior to their departure to the south, they learned of the act recently passed by the Confederate Congress, whereby, "every white person being a commissioned officer, or acting as such, who, during the present war shall command Negroes or mulattoes in arms against the Confederate States, or who shall voluntarily aid Negroes or mulattoes in any military enterprise, attack or conflict in such service, shall be deemed as inciting servile insurrection, and shall if captured be put to death or be otherwise punished at the discretion of the court."  The rule also applied to every enlisted man in the regiment as well.  At 9 o'clock on the morning of May 28th, the 54th Massachusetts began their march through the streets of Boston on their way to the wharf.  All along the way, great crowds greeted the regiment.  Robert's family and his wife stood on the second-floor balcony of the Sturgis home on 44 Beacon Street.  Of that moment, his sister Ellen wrote  "I was not quite eighteen when the regiment sailed.  My mother, Rob's wife, my sisters and I were on the balcony to see the regiment go by, and when Rob riding at its head, looked up and kissed his sword, his face was as the face of an angel and I felt perfectly sure he would never come back."  Upon arriving at Battery Wharf, only family and friends were allowed to stay with the soldiers as they awaited boarding their transport, the De Molay.  A few days later he wrote "Truly I ought to be thankful for all my happiness and success in life so far; and if the raising of colored troops proves such a benefit to the country and to the blacks...I shall thank God a thousand times that I was led to take my share in it."  About 2 p.m. on June 3rd, the transport steamed into the port of Hilton Head, which was Headquarters for the Department of the South.  Here, Robert was to report to General Hunter.  After Hunter reviewed the regiment on board the De Molay, they were ordered to Beaufort.  In one of the fields of an unworked plantation, the 54th made their first bivouac on southern soil.  A day or so later, Robert met Colonel James Montgomery, of the 2nd S.C. Volunteers, consisting of contraband soldiers. From Beaufort, the 54th sailed onto St. Simon's Island, setting up camp at Pike's Bluff near Frederica.  On June 10th and 11th, the 54th took part in a expedition that would leave Robert angry and upset.  Montgomery had planned to capture the town of Darien, Georgia, but his plans also extended to the burning and looting of the town.  It was this action that had left Shaw so enraged. Only one company of the 54th was involved in the actual firing of the town, and that is because Montgomery specifically ordered them out.  The remaining companies of the 54th, along with their Colonel stood by in the public square and watched the sad happenings take place.  The next day, back at the Pike's Bluff camp, Robert wrote his wife, the Adjutant General of the Department and Governor Andrew.  He was determined to learn if Montgomery had acted on his own, or been under orders from General Hunter.  When news of the raid reached the north and President Lincoln, Hunter was removed from his post and replaced by General Quincy A. Gilmore.  Gilmore was planning on attacking the outer defenses of Charleston, and he would start with the capture of Morris Island. Montgomery and Shaw's regiments would be part of a brigade under General George C. Strong.  On June 23rd, the regiment sailed for St. Helena Island where camp was made.  June 30th, the unit was mustered for pay and here they learned that the government would not adhere to the terms of their enlistment.  Instead of the promised $13 per month as white troops, the men of the 54th were told they would receive $10, minus another $3 for clothing.  Robert immediately sat down and wrote his family and Governor Andrew regarding this discriminatory act.  The pay issue would finally be resolved almost 18 months later...much too late for the unit's young Colonel to see it. As the days passed, Shaw began to feel that his regiment would never see action before the war ended.  On July 6th, he wrote to General Strong expressing his disappointment at having been left behind.  "It seems to me quite important that the colored soldiers should be associated as much as possible with white troops, in order that they may have witnesses beside their own officers to what they are capable of doing.  I trust that the present arrangement is not permanent."

Two days later, the 54th was ordered to prepare to leave at an hour's notice His men were to take only blankets, cold rations and battle equipment as they boarded the steamers alongside Montgomery's men. On June 10th, while the 54th was still on board the steamers, General Gilmore had ordered an assault on the south end of Morris Island, which was held by the Confederates.  The attack was a success and gave the Federals a foothold on the island, with the hopes of being able to capture the two earthwork batteries, Gregg and Wagner, on the north end nearest Sumter and Charleston.  On the 11th, fueled by the success of the day before, Gilmore ordered an attack on Wagner, but this assault failed.  To weaken the batteries, Gilmore ordered a continual bombardment by land and sea.  The unit landed on James Island, S.C and once encamped, Shaw immediately sent out pickets to serve with whites in other regiments. Early on the morning of July 16th, four companies of the 54th Massachusetts were on picket alongside members of the 10th Connecticut.  As the morning haze began to burn away, the picket line was attacked by a force of Confederates.  The 54th held their ground as long as they could, and in doing so, allowed the 10th Connecticut to retreat to the rear without heavy injury.  The 54th had saved the day and more importantly...proved that black troops would fight.  That afternoon Robert and Ned Hallowell sat and read their mail.  They discussed home and friends they might never see again. During the conversation, Robert asked Ned if he believed in presentiments, and went on to tell Ned that he believed he should be killed in the first action.  That night he wrote his wife  "Good bye, darling, for the night.  I know this letter will give you pleasure, because what we have done today wipes out the memory of the Darien affair, which you could not but grieve over, though we were innocent participators..."  At sunset, the 54th, along with the 10th Connecticut and Montgomery's Brigade were ordered to evacuate James Island on foot.  As darkness fell, the clouds spilled forth torrents of rain.  Marching in the dark, over unfamiliar land proved hazardous and tiresome.  Paths began wide and then narrowed leading to a series of foot bridges, in some places only one plank wide.  Several slipped off the planks and dropped into the muddy marsh below, only to be lifted back onto the planks to begin the march again.  It took from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. to go four miles from James Island to Cole's Island where they stopped and  slept, waiting for the remainder of the troops to catch up.  Here they remained all day with nothing to eat but hardtack and coffee for their fare. While the regiment slept, Robert was ordered to report to General Strong. Gilmore was planning a direct assault on Fort Wagner and Strong was willing to give the 54th the lead position.  Robert accepted the offer and returned to his men on the beach.  From 11 o'clock on Friday evening until 4 o'clock Saturday morning they were transported in a boat which took about 50 at a time across to Folly Island.  Marching six miles they arrived at Lighthouse Inlet, where a small steamer was boarded and which landed them about 5 p.m. on the south end of Morris Island.  The bombardment of Batteries Wagner and Gregg had continued uninterrupted for over 24 hours.  General Gilmore was quite confident that Wagner had been weakened enough to be taken by frontal assault.  Unfortunately his assumptions were terribly wrong, and the 54th Massachusetts would be sent into a storm of fire that would take its toll.

About 6:30 p.m. on Saturday July 18th, Robert sought out Edward L. Pierce, correspondent of the New York Daily Tribune and a friend from his New York days.  He gave him some personal papers and letters and asked Pierce to send them to his family if he was killed.  Shortly after, he rode to where the regiment formed, dismounted his horse and took his place at the front of the right wing, which would make the initial assault.  The fort was to be taken by bayonet and hand to hand combat.  About 7:45 p.m., the signal to advance was given and the 54th moved forward.  With the ocean on the right and Vincent's Creek on the left, the marching area for the line was narrowed and at times the men were forced to march in water up to their knees.  The regiment advanced at quick-time, changing to double-quick some distance on.  When about one hundred yards from the fort, the Rebel musketry opened fire with such terrible force that for an instant, the first battalion hesitated.  Shaw, springing to the front yelled "Forward 54th!" and with another cheer and a shout, the men rushed forward through the ditch, and gained the parapet on the right.  Shaw was one of the first to scale the walls.  He stood briefly on the parapet, and while urging his men on, was shot through the heart and fell forward into the fort.  I won't go into detail regarding the remainder of the battle.  Suffice it to say that Battery Wagner was never taken by direct assault and would only be evacuated by the Rebels on September 6th, after a long, drawn out siege.  Gilmore would resort to trench warfare to gain control of the island and its earthworks. When the sun rose that Sunday morning, it shone on the bodies of the black and white soldiers that lay sprawled on Wagner's slopes and for three-quarter's of a mile along the sandy beach.   A flag of truce sent by the Federals was refused.  Any and all attempts to regain the bodies of those who had been killed were thwarted.  Shaw's body was stripped of its uniform...his personal belongings taken by various Rebel soldiers.  He was placed on display inside the fort for a brief time before being thrown in the bottom of a large pit...the bodies of black enlisted men piled on top of him. When Robert's father learned of the attempts to return his son's body, he wrote to General Gilmore, requesting that Robert remain where he was...with his men.  The attempt by the Confederates to humiliate the memory of the young Colonel had somehow turned him into a martyr.  Poems and books would proclaim him and his men, the heroes that they were.  There would be paintings of Shaw that would first adorn the family house and then Memorial Hall at Harvard.  The regiment and their brave commander would be cast in bronze as part of a memorial on Boston Common. Just this past May, the City of Boston celebrated the 100th anniversary of the dedication of this monument.  And, a movie would even be made to tell their story.  Since then, many more books have been written about this fascinating regiment, reenactment groups have been organized, and an uneducated society has finally been turned on to the many black units that served this country during the Civil War.  And, what happened to Robert's wife Anna?  She lived the remainder of her life as his widow... somehow content in knowing that she had been briefly married to the young Colonel who gave his life for his country. She died on March 17,1907 and is buried in The Cemetery of the Church on the Hill in Lenox, Massachusetts.  The house they spent their honeymoon in no longer exists, but if one visits the site, you can almost sense the presence of the young couple.  

The following sources were used:

1.  Crawford, Mary Caroline.  "Famous Families of Massachusetts"  Boston Little, Brown, 1930.

2.  Burchard, Peter.  "We'll Stand by the Union Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts Regiment (colored),"  New York Facts on File, 1993.

3.  Duncan, Russell.  "Blue-Eyed Child of Fortune  The Civil War Letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw,"  University of Georgia Press, 1992.

4.  Burchard, Peter.  "One Gallant Rush Robert Gould Shaw and his Brave Black Regiment,"  New York  St. Martin's, 1965.

5.  Smith, Marion Whitney.  "Beacon Hill's Colonel Robert Gould Shaw," New York Carlton Press, 1986.

6.  Benson, Richard and Kirstein, Lincoln.  "Lay This Laurel," New York Eakins Press, 1973.

7.  Smith, Margaret Whitney.  "Colonel Robert Gould Shaw  A Pictorial History," New York  Carlton Press, 1990.

8.   McKay, Martha Nicholson.  "When the Tide Turned in the Civil War," Indianapolis  The Hollenbeck Press, 1929.

9.  Teamoh, Robert T.  "Sketch of the Life and Death of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw," Boston Grandison and Son Printers, 1904.

10.  Shaw, Sarah Sturgis.  "Biography of Robert Gould Shaw," Harvard Memorial Biographies, Cambridge 1866.

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