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[88] rapidly, and it afterwards became the fifth parallel. They were then subjected to a heavy fire, killing Lieut. James A. Perkins and several others.1 During the night the regiment was relieved by another. There was a long siege before the final surrender of the fort, and in this siege the 54th lost heavily at different times and the 24th and 40th lightly. The 54th, with other colored regiments, performed a rather excessive share of fatigue duty, and was complimented for this by Maj. T. B. Brooks, assistant engineer.2

The 54th Mass. was again under fire with the 40th Mass. at the battle of Olustee, Fla., Feb. 20, 1864. This was one of those utterly wasted defeats caused by the complication of political and military aims. It was the result of an attempt to take possession of the main land of Florida with a hope of bringing its people back into the Union,—an attempt in which every advantage was given to the Confederates by their possession of interior lines, so that they could easily overwhelm any given force by bringing up reinforcements. The first onset having been unfavorable to the Union troops, Montgomery's brigade was ordered forward to hold the enemy in check until a new line could be formed in the rear. This was effectually done and a newspaper correspondent wrote, ‘The two colored regiments had stood in the gap and saved the army.’3 The other colored regiment was the 1st North Carolina, which was first withdrawn, having lost heavily. The 54th Mass. was finally left alone, every other organization having been withdrawn, including Langdon's U. S. Battery, which had lost three guns. They were out of ammunition, and when some arrived it was of the wrong calibre. So hopeless seemed their position that Colonel Montgomery said, ‘in his bushwhacking way,’ ‘Now, men, you have done well. I love you all. Each man take care of himself,’ but Lieutenant-Colonel Hooper, more wisely, rallied the line, ordered bayonets fixed and exercised the regiment in the manual of arms to quiet it. It then retreated in good order, the last to quit the field. As at Fort Wagner, Seymour had allowed his forces

1 ‘A brilliant charge.’ (Report of Maj. T. B. Brooks, assistant engineer, Official War Records, 46, p. 295.) ‘I looked upon the gallant achievement of the 24th Mass. Regiment in rushing forward to capture an important position in front of Wagner with admiration. . . . But what good was the capture of Fort Wagner to do us?’ (Gordon's War Diary, p. 198.)

2 Official War Records, 46, p. 198.

3 Emilio, p. 167. He also says (p. 163): ‘Adjutant Howard relates that as he was riding over the field beside Colonel Hallowell, General Seymour rode up to that officer and told him, in substance, that the day was lost and that everything depended on the 54th.’

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