Category: 54th Regiment, Massachusetts Infantry (Colored), United States Civil War

Categories: Massachusetts, United States Civil War | African Americans in the American Civil War | African-American Military History

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54th Regiment, Massachusetts Infantry (Colored)



Organized at Readville and mustered in May 13, 1863. Left Boston on Steamer "De Molay" for Hilton Head, S. C., May 28, arriving there June 3. Attached to U. S. Forces, St. Helena Island, S. C., 10th Army Corps, Dept. of the South, to July, 1863. 3rd Brigade 1st Division, Morris Island, S. C., 10th Army Corps, July, 1863. 3rd Brigade, Morris Island, S. C., to August, 1863. 4th Brigade, Morris Island, S. C., to November, 1863. 3rd Brigade, Morris Island, S. C., to January, 1864. Montgomery's Brigade, District of Hilton Head, S. C., to February, 1864. Montgomery's Brigade, District of Florida, February, 1864. 3rd Brigade, Ames' Division, District of Florida, to April, 1864. Folly and Morris Islands, S. C., Northern District, Dept. South, to October, 1864. 1st Separate Brigade, Dept. South, to November, 1864. 2nd Brigade, Coast Division, Dept. South, to February, 1865. 1st Separate Brigade, Northern District, Dept. South, to March, 1865. 1st Separate Brigade, District of Charleston, S. C., Dept. South, to June, 1865. 3rd Sub-District, District of, Charleston, Dept. South Carolina, to August, 1865.


June 4-8 - At Thompson's Plantation near Beaufort, South Carolina.
June 8-9 - Moved to St. Simon's Island.
June 10-11 - Expedition up Altamaha River.
June 12-24 - At St. Simon's Island.
June 25 -July 8 - At St. Helena Island
July 8 - To Stono Inlet July 8.
July 9-16 - Expedition against James Island.
July 13 - Affair Legaresville.
July 16 - Secessionville.
July 16-18 - Moved to Morris Island.
July 18 - Assault on Fort Wagner.
July 18-September 7 - Siege operations against Forts Wagner and Gregg, Morris Island.
September 7-January 28, 1864 - Siege operations against Fort Sumpter and Charleston.
September 7 - Capture of Forts Wagner and Gregg.
January 28 - Moved to Hilton Head, South Carolina.
February 5-7 - Expedition to Jacksonville, Florida.
February 6 - Capture of Jacksonville.
February 7-22 - Expedition to Lake City, Florida.
February 20 - Battle of Oolustee.
February 21-April 17 - Duty at Jacksonville.
April 17-18 - Moved to Morris Island.
April 18 - November - Duty on Morris and Folly Islands, South Carolina.
June 30-July 10 - Expedition to James Island.
July 2, 9 and 10 - Actions on James Island.
September 7-October 20 - Six Companies in charge of rebel prisoners under fire of Charleston Batteries.
November 27 - Eight Companies moved to Hilton Head (Cos. "B" and "F" at Morris Island till February, 1865.)
November 29-30 - Expedition to Boyd's Neck, South Carolina.
November 29 - Boyd's Landing.
November 30 - Battle of Honey Hill.
December 6-9 - Demonstration on Charleston Camp; Savannah Railroad.
December 20 - Moved to Graham's Neck.
January 15 - Connect with Sherman's Army at Pocotaligo, South Carolina.
January-February 23 - March to Charleston January 15-February 23, skirmishing all the way. (Cos. "B" and "F" occupy Charleston February 18.)
February 27-March 12 - Regiment on duty at Charleston.
March 13-27 - At Savannah, Georgia.
March 31-April 5 - At Georgetown, South Carolina.
April 5-25 - Potter's Expedition to Camden.
April 6 - Seven Mile Bridge April 6. Destruction of Eppes' Bridge, Black River.
April 9 - Dingle's Mills April 9.
April 10 - Destruction of Rolling Stock at Wateree Junction.
April 12 - Singleton's Plantation.
April 15 - Statesburg.
April 17 - Occupation of Camden Boykin's Mills April 18.
April 25 - At Georgetown.
April 25-August 17 - Duty at Georgetown, Charleston, and various points in South Carolina.
August 20 - Mustered out at Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.
September 1 - Discharged at Boston, Massachusetts.

During service this regiment lost 5 Officers and 104 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and an additional 1 Officer and 160 Enlisted men by disease. Total 270. [1]

Fox's History

In the attack on Fort Wagner, the regiment was assigned the honor of leading the assault, and, when the division was drawn up on the beach at nightfall preparatory to the attack, the order to advance was delayed until the Fifty-fourth marched by and took its place at the head of the column. It charged under fire over a long distance of sandy plain, reaching the ditch, where many of the men climbed the parapet and entered the outer works; but the fort proved impregnable, and a bloody repulse ensued, the regiment losing 34 killed, 146 wounded, and 92 captured or missing.

The Fifty-fourth was organized in April, 1863, at Readville, Mass., and was one of the first colored regiments organized in the Northern States. The men came from the free colored citizens of New England and the Middle States, while many came from far Western States to embrace this, their first opportunity to enlist. Governor Andrews tendered the Colonelcy to Captain Robert G. Shaw, of the Second Massachusetts Infantry, who accepted. Shaw was killed at Fort Wagner; he was the first man on the parapet, where he fell, shot through the heart. At Olustee, the regiment lost 11 killed, 68 wounded and 8 missing; at Honey Hill, 3 killed, 38 wounded, and 4 missing; at Boykin's Mill, 2 killed, and 20 wounded. After the close of the war it remained in South Carolina, on garrison duty, until August 20, 1865, when it was mustered out. and ordered to Boston, where the men received their final payment and discharge.

Shortly after Olustee, the Sergeant-Major (colored), was commissioned a lieutenant by Governor Andrews, for gallantry in that battle; but for a long time the United States Government refused to muster him in, on account of his color. Admittance to the Invalid Corps was also refused a private who was disabled at Fort Wagner. Full pay was also refused these men for sixteen months. On seven successive pay-days they were tendered $7 per month; but each time it was refused and a white soldier's pay demanded. On September 28, 1864, the men were paid in full from the date of enlistment, at $13 per month.[2]

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  1. National Park Service Soldiers and Sailors Database National Park Service Soldiers and Sailors Database
  2. Taken from; William F. Fox, Lt. Col. U. S. V., Regimental Losses in the American Civil War, 1861-1865: A Treatise on the extent and nature of the mortuary losses in the Union regiments, with full and exhaustive statistics compiled from the official records on file in the state military bureaus and at Washington: 1888.

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