By Robert Gould Shaw
At the Boston universal stands one of many nice Civil battle memorials, an impressive 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 committed 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 e-book Shaw speaks for himself with equivalent eloquence via approximately 2 hundred letters he wrote to his friends and family throughout 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 used to be 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 battle 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 shortly the celebrities got here out vibrant, and we lay down one of the useless, and slept soundly until eventually sunlight. there have been twenty useless our bodies inside a rod of me."When Federal struggle goals shifted from an emphasis on restoring the Union to the better aim 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 proficient his recruits in Readville, Massachusetts, through the early months of 1963, he got here to recognize their pluck and commitment. "There isn't the least doubt," he wrote his mom, "that we will go away the country, with nearly as good a regiment, as any that has marched."Despite such expressions of self assurance, Shaw in truth persisted to fret approximately how good his troops could practice lower than hearth. the last word attempt got here in South Carolina in July 1863, while the Fifty-fourth led a courageous yet ill-fated cost on castle Wagner, on the method of Charleston Harbor. As Shaw waved his sword and steered his males ahead, an enemy bullet felled him at the fort's parapet. a couple 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 was once a failure from an army perspective, it proved the proposition to which Shaw had reluctantly committed himself whilst he took command of the Fifty-fourth: that black squaddies may well certainly be struggling with males. by means of year's finish, sixty new black regiments have been being organized.A past choice of Shaw's correspondence used to be privately released by means of his kin in 1864. For this quantity, Russell Duncan has restored many passages passed over from the sooner version and has supplied special explanatory notes to the letters. moreover he has written a long biographical essay that areas the younger colonel and his regiment in historic context.
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Additional resources for Blue-Eyed Child of Fortune: The Civil War Letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw
His father tried not to pressure him, but his presence surely indicated his feelings. Shaw had been through a lot with his regiment, and seen many of his friends die near him. He was loyal to their memory and to the men who remained to fight on future fields. He discussed the offer with his close friend and tentmate Charles Morse, who wondered with him whether the position might be ridiculed, doubted that blacks would enlist, and questioned the fighting ability of black troops. 55 Shaw sought the opinions of other officers, most of whom hated to see him leave the regiment.
M. daily, with an occasional late afternoon class. M. curtain at the theater, opera, or con cert. He loved literature and music. Shakespeare enchanted him, and he saw "A Midsummer Night's Dream" eight times and "Hamlet" twice. 22 He became a regular at parties. At a "fancy-ball" in February 1855, Shaw shaved his blond beard and dressed as a woman. He had reached his full height of five feet five inches, was slim, and had delicate features. He looked much like his sisters Anna and Josephine. He "made such fools" of his friends, none of whom recognized him until he spoke.
Yet, he died with sand in his mouth and sword in hand face down among the sons of the unfortunate and despised. Shaw never attained the scholarly insight of his father, the reform conviction of his mother and sisters, or the business acumen of his grandfathers and uncles. He did not join the army in 1861 to fight for the Union or to free the slaves, but simply to do his duty. He did want to avenge the name of his country and to revenge what he considered years of bullying by Southern slaveholders.
Blue-Eyed Child of Fortune: The Civil War Letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw by Robert Gould Shaw