55th Massachusetts

This morning I sat in front of the rear of the Robert Gould Shaw and Fifty-Fourth Regiment Memorial before heading into the Boston Athenaeum for a day of writing. It is certainly not the first time I have read the inscription on the rear of the memorial, which most people miss when they visit. This Read more

One hundred and fifty years ago today the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry entered Charleston, South Carolina. Blain Roberts and Ethan Kytle offer a vivid description of this moment in the latest New York Times Disunion column. It’s an incredibly powerful scene and one that is beautifully captured in the pages of Harpers Weekly. Funny, but Read more

One of the stumbling blocks that I continue to come up against in researching the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry is in reference to Governor John Andrew.  The problem is especially acute given my interest in the pay crisis of 1863-64.  Andrew played an important role as an advocate for these men, but I am only Read more

Head on over to the Atlantic for my most recent essay on the legacy of our Civil War’s African American soldiers and the movie, Glory.  The essay brings together a couple of posts that I recently did on how I teach the movie and how I utilize the history of the pay crisis try to Read more

Ta-Nahesi Coates has some interesting things to say about my Gingrich review at The Atlantic.  This particular passage caught my eye: This pattern those sympathetic to the Confederacy acknowledging the sacrifice and honor of black soldiers is relatively new. Kevin’s right that it’s often tied into a hesitancy to see the Confederacy as it really was. But Read more

Getting to Know the Men of the 55th

Just wrapped up another productive week at the Massachusetts Historical Society with collections related to the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.  There is something to researching real black Civil War soldiers as opposed to deconstructing silly claims about fictitious black Confederate soldiers.  The MHS has an impressive collection of correspondence among the unit’s officers.  In addition Read more

“A Noble Southern Man”

Today I came across a news clipping from the Boston Transcript, which covered the fall of Charleston in February 1865.  The paper reprinted a letter written by an officer in a Massachusetts regiment about a Charleston lawyer by the name of Nelson Mitchell.  Turns out that the story is fairly well known.  Luis F. Emilio Read more

Dear Barbara, Yesterday I spent the day at the Massachusetts Historical Society examining materials related to the 55th Massachusetts as you suggested.  I’m glad I did.  As you noted in our conversation last week, no one has written a regimental history of the unit, which is surprising given the incredibly rich written record left by Read more