‘I saw them fight at Wagner as none but splendid soldiers, splendidly officered, could fight, dashing through shot and shell, grape, canister, and shrapnel, and showers of bullets, and when they got close enough, fighting with clubbed muskets, and retreating when they did retreat, by command and with choice white troops for company.’
Edward L. Pierce
, the correspondent of the New York Tribune, in a letter to Governor Andrew
, dated July 22, 1863, wrote,—
I asked General Strong if he had any testimony in relation to the regiment to be communicated to you. These are his precise words, and I give them to you as I noted them at the time: “The Fifty-fourth did well and nobly; only the fall of Colonel Shaw prevented them from entering the fort.
They moved up as gallantly as any troops could, and with their enthusiasm they deserved a better fate.”
To the correspondent of the New York Evening Post General Strong
said that the Fifty-fourth ‘had no sleep for three nights, no food since morning, and had marched several miles. . . . Under cover of darkness they had stormed the fort, faced a stream of fire, faltered not till the ranks were broken by shot and shell; and in all these severe tests, which would have tried even veteran troops, they fully met my expectations, for many were killed, wounded, or captured on the walls of the fort.’
The Confederate commander of Wagner
‘One of the assaulting regiments was composed of negroes (the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts), and to it was assigned the honor of leading the white columns to the charge.
It was a dearly purchased compliment.
Their colonel (Shaw) was killed upon the parapet, and the regiment almost annihilated, although the Confederates in the darkness could not tell the color of their assailants.’