54th Massachusetts and the role of African-Americans in the Civil War
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5th Massachusetts

The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infrantry was the very first military composed of men that were African descents and were raised in Massachusetts. In Februray 1863 the first members were assembled. Eventually members from Massachusetts and other states were included. The Regiment was commanded by a twenty-five year old officer named Robert Gould Shaw. They fought tough in it's failed assault, upon a man called Battery Wagner, protecting the Charleston harbor in South Carolina. Finally Congress voted to raise the pay of black soilders in 1864.

There were over four million African-Americans living in the United States in 1860, most of them living in the southern states and most were slaves. They didn't really think of forcing social change in America. Most southerns intended on keeping blacks in slavery and wanted to continue to use the regions economic basis. A very small amount of white and blacks showed concern about the war affecting African-Americans. In the North, free black leaders campaigned the allowance of African-Americans to serve as soilders.

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