‘No regiment has collected so many thousands as the Fifty-fourth. Vast crowds lined the streets where the regiment was to pass, and the Common was crowded with an immense number of people such as only the Fourth of July or some rare event causes to assemble. . . . No white regiment from Massachusetts has surpassed the Fifty-fourth in excellence of drill, while in general discipline, dignity, and military bearing the regiment is acknowledged by every candid mind to be all that can be desired.’Upon arriving at Battery Wharf, the lines were maintained by the police. Many friends were allowed to remain with the officers for parting words until the vessel sailed. It was about one o'clock in the afternoon when the regiment embarked on the steamer De Molay, and four o'clock before the lines were cast off and the vessel slowly moved from the wharf, where friendly and loving hands waved adieus, to which those on board responded. A few friends, including Adjutant-General Schouler and Frederick Douglass, remained until the steamer was well away, when they too said their farewells, and returned to the city on a tugboat. Soon the city, the islands, and the shores faded from view, as the ‘De Molay’ steamed rapidly out of harbor. The Fifty-fourth was en route for rebellious soil.
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