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From first to last the original officers exercised a controlling influence in the regiment. To them—field, staff, and line—was largely due whatever fame was gained by the Fifty-fourth as the result of efficient leadership in camp or on the battlefield.

In his Memoirs of Governor Andrew the Hon. Peleg W. Chandler writes:—

When the first colored regiment was formed, he [Governor Andrew] remarked to a friend that in regard to other regiments, he accepted men as officers who were sometimes rough and uncultivated, “but these men,” he said, “shall be commanded by officers who are eminently gentlemen.”

So much for the selection of officers. When it came to filling the ranks, strenuous efforts were required outside the State, as the colored population could not furnish the number required even for one regiment.

Pending the effort in the wider field available under the plan proposed, steps were taken to begin recruiting within the State. John W. M. Appleton, of Boston, a gentleman of great energy and sanguine temperament, was the first person selected for a commission in the Fifty-fourth, which bore date of February 7. He reported to the Governor, and received orders to begin recruiting. An office was taken in Cambridge Street, corner of North Russell, upstairs, in a building now torn down. On February 16, the following call was published in the columns of the Boston Journal:—

To Colored men.

Wanted. Good men for the Fifty-fourth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers of African descent, Col. Robert G. Shaw.

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