How the distinguished battlefield performance of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment paved the way for the formation of other African American units during the American Civil War. Although having previously rebelled against authority, Shaw seemed to find himself in the army, rising to the rank of captain. Shaw's father, upon hearing of this deed, stated however that he was proud that happened to his son and Robert would have wanted it that way. In May 1861 he joined the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry as a second lieutenant, with which he fought in the First battle of Winchester, the Battles of Cedar Mountain, and Antietam. Shaw was born in Boston to abolitionists Francis George and Sarah Blake (Sturgis) Shaw, well-known Unitarian philanthropists and intellectuals. Robert Gould Shaw was born on October 10, 1837 and died on July 18, 1863. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. [citation needed], Shaw was approached by his father while in camp in late 1862 to take command of a new All-Black Regiment. [3] Following the battle, commanding Confederate General Johnson Hagood returned the bodies of the other Union officers who had died, but left Shaw's where it was. The History Press, 2008. Discover life events, stories and photos about Robert Gould Shaw (1815–1853) of Gouldsboro,, Maine. As Colonel, he commanded the all-black 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, which entered the war in 1863. Glory is still one of my favorite movies, but like all Hollywood productions, there are places where it falls short in explaining the history or providing the proper historical context. Shaw's letters clearly state that he was dubious about a free black unit succeeding, but the dedication of his men deeply impressed him, and he grew to respect them as fine soldiers. The victorious Confederates buried him in a mass grave with many of his men, an act they intended as an insult. According to the Colors Sergeant of the 54th, he was shot and killed while trying to lead the unit forward and fell on the outside of the fort. People Projects ... Death: December 02, 1853 (38) Immediate Family: [5] In a letter to the regimental surgeon, Lincoln Stone, Frank Shaw wrote: "We would not have his body removed from where it lies surrounded by his brave and devoted soldiers....We can imagine no holier place than that in which he lies, among his brave and devoted followers, nor wish for him better company. From 1856 until 1859 he attended Harvard University, joining the Porcellian Club, but withdrew before graduating. [citation needed], Early in the American Civil War, Shaw joined the 7th New York Militia and in April 1861 marched with it to the defense of Washington, D.C. Please refer to the appropriate style manual or other sources if you have any questions. \" Oration by William James at the exercises in the Boston Music Hall, May 31, 1897, upon the unveiling of the Shaw Monument. Shaw was initially ordered by Colonel James Montgomery to perform the burning but he refused. At first he declined the offer, but after careful thought, he accepted the position. 4870, citing Moravian Cemetery, New Dorp, Richmond County (Staten Island), New York, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave . – what a body-guard he has! [citation needed], On June 11, 1863, Shaw wrote about war crimes committed against the citizens of Darien, Georgia when the civilian population of women and children were fired upon, forced from their homes, their possessions looted, and the town burned. Jeff Wallenfeldt, manager of Geography and History, has worked as an editor at Encyclopaedia Britannica since 1992. Shaw was born into a wealthy Boston family and attended Harvard University before enlisting in the U.S. Army early in the Civil War. 10 That Changed America | 10 Monuments | Robert Gould Shaw and the Fifty-fourth Regiment Memorial 4 Robert Gould Shaw and the Fifty-fourth Regiment Memorial Boston, Massachusetts 1897 The charge of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment and death of Colonel Robert G. Shaw at Fort Wagner, Morris Island, near Charleston, South Carolina, on July 18, 1863. His family … Shaw himself would have been a member by primogeniture of the Society of the Cincinnati had he survived his father. Born into a prominent Boston abolitionist family, he accepted command of the first all-black regiment (54th Massachusetts) in the Northeast. Ultimately, however, Shaw changed his mind and accepted the command, perhaps to please his mother. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Robert Gould Shaw already owned a sword, but it wasn’t appropriate for the rank of Colonel, so this new English sword is the one he carried into combat. His merchant father retired from business to take up translating literature and moved his family to West Roxbury, Massachusetts, near the utopian community Brook Farm, with whose famous residents the Shaws interacted. Genealogy for Robert Gould Shaw (1815 - 1853) family tree on Geni, with over 200 million profiles of ancestors and living relatives. After Robert Shaw's death, his young wife, Annie, moved to Europe to live with her sister. The most well known memorial, however, is the Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial. Digital facsimiles of this collection are publicly available. After Shaw was shot to death while storming Fort Wagner with this sword in his hand, it was stripped from his body along with his other possessions and all his clothing, except for his underwear. Shaw was a rebellious youth who often tested the patience of his parents and teachers. Robert Gould Shaw would have been 25 years old at the time of death or 177 years old today. [8][citation needed], Shaw is well known for the over 200 letters he wrote to his family and friends during the Civil War. [1] Robert Gould Shaw, via Wikimedia Commons The story that appears in quite a few secondary works is that Confederate Brig. [1], This article is about the American Civil War Colonel. Efforts were made to recover Shaw's body (which had been stripped and robbed prior to burial), but his father publicly proclaimed that he was proud to know that his son was interred with his troops, befitting his role as a soldier and a crusader for emancipation. He was the only son of a wealthy mercantile family who possessed radical abolitionist views. After nearly three years of failing to distinguish himself as a student at Harvard University, Shaw worked at an uncle’s mercantile firm in New York City. They decided to marry before the unit left Boston despite their parents' misgivings. "[6], Annie Haggerty Shaw, a widow at the age of 28, never remarried. Following a period of hedonistic self-indulgence, he returned to the United States. His parents (who lived off the inheritance left by Shaw's merchant grandfather) were Francis George and Sarah Blake Sturgis Shaw, and he had four sisters: Anna, Josephine, Susannah and Ellen. He was famous for writing letters to his family during the American Civil War. Yankee troops had to march 1,200 yards down the beach to the stronghold, facing a hail of bullets from the Confederates. Fractured by ideology and economy, this war sought to unify a divided nation. . On July 18, 1863, along with two brigades of white troops, the 54th assaulted Confederate Battery Wagner. Shaw had four sisters—Anna, Josephine, Susannah and Ellen)[citation needed];— He had four sisters, namely, Anna, Josephine, Sussana, and Ellen. Shaw noted in a letter, "The reasons he gave me for destroying Darien were, that the Southerners must be made to feel that this was a real war, and that they were to be swept away by the hand of God, like the Jews of old. His parents, Francis George and Sarah Blake Shaw were philanthropists and quite wealthy. Robert Gould Shaw was born on 10 October 1837 in Boston, the second of Francis George and Sarah Blake Sturgis Shaw’s children. Memorials. scholarship and civic-mindedness inculcated into all the children. Ironically, the original Scottish founders of Darien had signed the first Petition against the Introduction of Slavery in the colony of Georgia. In 1861 Shaw enlisted as a private in a New York regiment and later was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 2nd Regiment of the Massachusetts infantry. The heir to a large fortune, Francis Shaw advocated for a variety of causes and Robert was raised in an environment that included notable personalities such as William Lloyd Garrison, Charles Sumner, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Shaw was educated in private schools in New York and Switzerland and then by tutors in Italy and Hannover, Germany. There on horseback among them, in his very habit as he lived, sits the blue-eyed child of fortune, upon whose happy youth every divinity had smiled . He mounted a parapet and urged his men forward, but was shot through the heart and died almost instantly. In 1864, sculptor Edmonia Lewis created a bust of Shaw. Shaw was born into an immensely wealthy Boston family. Robert Gould Shaw would have been 25 years old at the time of death or 177 years old today. Updates? [citation needed], Memorial to Shaw and the 54th Regiment at the National Gallery of Art, Entry for Shaw in Harvard University's Memorial Hall, "There they march, warm-blooded champions of a better day for man. He found the worlds … The son of prominent Boston abolitionists, Robert Gould Shaw was born October 10, 1837, to Francis and Sara Shaw. Robert Gould Shaw (October 10, 1837 – July 18, 1863) was an American officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Then he says, “We are outlawed, and therefore not bound by the rules of regular warfare”; but that makes it nonetheless revolting to wreak our vengeance on the innocent and defenceless."[2]. Robert Gould Shaw (American National Biography) Scholarship On 16 July [1863] the Fifty-fourth had the opportunity to recoup its self-esteem when Confederate forces … On October 27, 1897, RGS II married Nancy Witcher Langhorne (1879—1964) in New York City. She died in 1907 and is buried at the cemetery of Church-on-the Hill in Lenox. Genealogy profile for Robert Gould Shaw. He is the principal subject of the 1989 film Glory. Explore Robert Gould Shaw's biography, personal life, family and cause of death. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com: accessed ), memorial page for Robert Gould Shaw (10 Oct 1837–18 Jul 1863), Find a Grave Memorial no. "—Oration by William James at the exercises in the Boston Music Hall, May 31, 1897, upon the unveiling of the Shaw Monument. the family moved to Staten Island, New York, settling among a community of literati and abolitionists, while Shaw attended the lower division of St. John's College (comparable to a modern high school). The book, Blue-Eyed Child of Fortune, includes most of his letters and a brief biography of Shaw. As the unit hesitated in the face of fierce Confederate fire, Shaw led his men into battle by shouting, "Forward, Fifty-Fourth, forward!" [7], On May 2, 1863, Shaw married Anna Kneeland "Annie" Haggerty (1835–1907) in New York City. Omissions? He was the Colonel of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment. They are currently located in the Houghton Library at Harvard University. For his first cousin, the Massachusetts landowner, see, Hawthorne's Lenox, Cornelia Brooke Gilder with Julia Conklin Peters, Hawthorne's Lenox. Shaws troops and other Union regiments penetrated the walls at two points but did not have sufficient numbers to take the fort. [citation needed]. [citation needed], Shaw was promoted to major on March 31, 1863, and to colonel on April 17. He was killed in the Second Battle of Fort Wagner, near Charleston, South Carolina. They had one son: Promoted to colonel, Shaw oversaw the recruitment and training of the 54th, then led it into combat. \"There they march, warm-blooded champions of a better day for man. Nearly half of the regiment’s troops were casualties—including Shaw, who was killed—but the attack had proved to the world the mettle of black soldiers. Robert Gould Shaw, (born October 10, 1837, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.—died July 18, 1863, Fort Wagner, near Charleston, South Carolina), Union army officer who commanded a prominent regiment of African American troops during the American Civil War. Shaw was born in Boston to abolitionists Francis George and Sarah Blake (Sturgis) Shaw, well-known Unitarian philanthropists and intellectuals.The Shaws had the benefit of a large inheritance left by Shaw's merchant grandfather and namesake Robert Gould Shaw (1775–1853), andShaw himself would have been a member by primogeniture of the Society of the Cincinnati had he survived his father.Shaw had four sisters—Anna, Josephine, Susannah and Ellen)[citation needed];—scholarship and civic-mindednes… Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. The Confederates buried Shaw in a mass grave with his black troops, believing they were dishonouring him, but Shaw’s father discouraged later efforts to recover his son’s body, saying that the most appropriate burial place for a soldier was “on the field where he has fallen.” A monument to the 54th and Shaw, by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, was erected on the Boston Common. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Detail of a monument to the 54th Massachusetts Regiment by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens in Boston Common, Boston, Massachusetts. Moreover, although he had wrestled intellectually with the issue of slavery and opposed the Southern slave system, Shaw never shared his parents’ fervent moral indignation with slavery. After the 54th had been commanded to torch a defenseless Georgia port town, an action to which Shaw had objected, the regiment distinguished itself in responding to a Confederate surprise attack at James Island, South Carolina, on July 16, 1863. When Colonel Shaw fell in the assault on Fort Wagner, the Confederate soldiers purposefully buried him with his African American soldiers as an insult. Robert Gould Shaw was born on October 10, 1837, in Boston to a family of abolitionists. ISBN 978-1-59629-406-6 pp.71-76, Articles with unsourced statements from November 2014, Articles incorporating a citation from the New International Encyclopedia, Articles incorporating a citation from the New International Encyclopedia with an unnamed parameter, Articles incorporating text from Wikipedia, Union military personnel killed in the American Civil War, People of Massachusetts in the American Civil War, Burials at Beaufort National Cemetery (South Carolina), 2nd Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, Petition against the Introduction of Slavery, http://www.archive.org/stream/exercisesatdedic00bosto#page/n7/mode/2up, "Written in Glory:Letters from the Soldiers and Officers of the 54th Massachusetts", http://manybooks.net/pages/lodgeh18641864/109.html, http://www.nga.gov/cgi-bin/tsearch?artistid=2262, http://www.nga.gov/fcgi-bin/tinfo_f?object=102494, http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/13112/, Seeking the One Great Remedy: Francis George Shaw and Nineteenth-century Reform, Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry history, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw: 54th Massachusetts Regiment (video), NHD Robert Gould Shaw – National History Day (video), https://military.wikia.org/wiki/Robert_Gould_Shaw?oldid=5295344, Pages using duplicate arguments in template calls. In his teens, Shaw spent some years studying and traveling in Switzerland, Italy, Hanover, Norway and Sweden. The custom-made sword of Col. Robert Gould Shaw, leader of the all-black regiment depicted in the film "Glory," was stolen the night he died. John Andrew sought to form one of the Union army’s first African American regiments from a Northern state (other units had been formed of emancipated slaves in the South), he offered the command of that regiment, the 54th Massachusetts, to Shaw. Shaw noted in a letter, "On the way up, Montgomery threw several shells among the plantation buildings, in what seemed to me a very brutal way; for he didn’t know how many women and children there might be." Robert Gould "Bobbie" Shaw III (18 August 1898 – 10 July 1970) was an American-born English socialite. 144216013, citing Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA ; Maintained by Jacki Earp, Weymouth, Massachusetts (contributor 47755371) . The 54th Regiment was sent to Charleston, South Carolina to take part in the operations against the Confederates stationed there. But after a few days he reconsidered and accepted the position. A monument to Shaw's memory was erected by his family in the plot at, Although he did not graduate, Shaw's name is listed on the tablets of honor in Harvard University's, Shaw, the 54th regiment, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens' memorial are one of the subjects of, Simpson, Brooks (2013), The Civil War: The Third Year. Peter Burchard also used these letters as the basis for his book One Gallant Rush, which is one of the books upon which the film Glory was based. The British-made sword carried into battle by Col. Robert Gould Shaw was stolen after he was killed during the 54th Massachusetts Voluntary Infantry's doomed attack … Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. The Shaws had the benefit of a large inheritance left by Shaw's merchant grandfather and namesake Robert Gould Shaw (1775–1853), and Gen. Johnson Hagood ordered Shaw’s burial in a common grave as an act of intentional desecration, since Shaw died leading African American troops. From famous battles to infamous generals, test your knowledge of the American Civil War in this quiz. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership. She was the 18-year-old daughter of railroad millionaire Chiswell Dabney Langhorne and Nancy Witcher Keene. . He saw action in the Battles of Cedar Creek and Antietam and was wounded twice. Although Robert Gould Shaw was only 25 years old when he died, leading the 54th Massachusetts Infantry in a futile assault on Fort Wagner, he has become an object of interest in the past dozen years, especially since the release of the movie "Glory," which gave a … The enlisted men of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry (and the sister 55th) refused pay until Congress granted them full back pay at the white pay rate in August 1863. Some drawings and plaster mock-ups also exist. When Massachusetts Gov. Few Hollywood movies have had more of an influence on how we remember the Civil War and, specifically, the story of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, along with its young colonel, Robert Gould Shaw. Corrections? Robert Gould Shaw, (born October 10, 1837, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.—died July 18, 1863, Fort Wagner, near Charleston, South Carolina), Union army officer who commanded a prominent regiment of African American troops during the American Civil War. The Library of America (2013). Robert Gould Shaw’s sword, whereabouts unknown since his death at the Assault on Fort Wagner, is among Civil War items recently donated to the MHS. He asked Robert Gould Shaw (1837-1863), a young white captain in the army, to serve as the regiment’s colonel. Robert Gould Shaw was just 25 years old when he was killed leading a regiment of black soldiers into battle during the American Civil War. They spent their brief honeymoon at the Haggerty place, Ventfort, in Lenox, Massachusetts. He was a Unitarian who moved with his family to a large estate in West Roxbury, adjacent to Brook Farm when he was five. When Shaw was five the family moved to a large estate in West Roxbury, adjacent to Brook Farm. On Aug. 11, 1862, Robert Gould Shaw arrived in the Virginia town of Culpeper on a grim errand: the young lieutenant was there to accompany the remains of five fellow officers on the first leg of a final journey home to Boston. The regiment’s shining hour came on the evening of July 18, when it heroically assaulted Fort Wagner, an earthwork that defended Charleston. The story of the 54th Massachusetts and Shaw is recounted in the motion picture Glory (1989). The large sculptural monument by Augustus Saint-Gaudens has a frieze of Shaw on horseback, accompanied by members of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, as they marched through Boston to depart for the war. Two decades later in further tribute the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial was unveiled on May 31, 1897, at its site on the Boston Common. Both Shaw’s father and mother were early ardent abolitionists (Shaw’s playmates included William Lloyd Garrison’s children). https://www.britannica.com/biography/Robert-Gould-Shaw, American National Biography - Biography of Robert Gould Shaw, American Battlefield Trust - Biography of Robert Gould Shaw, Robert Gould Shaw - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). Union artillery battered Fort Wagner all day on July 18, but the barrage did little damage to the fort and its garrison. In theory it may seem all right to some, but when it comes to being made the instrument of the Lord’s vengeance, I myself don’t like it. There on horseback among them, in his very habit as he lived, sits the blue-eyed child of fortune, upon whose happy youth every divinity had smiled. Colonel Robert Gould Shaw is the main protagonist of the film Glory. Shaw was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to a prominent abolitionist family. She lived with her family in New York, Lenox and abroad, a revered figure and in later years an invalid. In his teens he traveled and studied for some years in Europe. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com: accessed ), memorial page for Robert Gould Shaw (4 Jun 1776–3 May 1853), Find a Grave Memorial no. While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. Shaw initially refused the offer, fearing that he was the wrong man for the job and doubting the ultimate success of an all-black regiment. The Robert Gould Shaw Memorial, designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Stanford White, was built in his memory on Beacon and Park streets in Boston in 1897. On learning that black soldiers would receive less pay than white ones, he inspired his unit to conduct a boycott until this inequality was rectified. The Shaw family also placed a bronze tablet in memory of Robert Gould Shaw on an earlier-installed cenotaph in its family plot at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Boston. Robert Gould Shaw was born on October 10, 1837 and died on July 18, 1863. Hagood informed a captured Union surgeon that "had he been in command of white troops, I should have given him an honorable burial; as it is, I shall bury him in the common trench with the n*****s that fell with him. 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