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Robert Gould Shaw

Governor John A. Andrew, along with Frederick Douglass and others, created the 54th Massachusetts regiment in early 1863, consisting of black troops. Governor Andrew selected the Harvard-educated, 25-year-old Robert Gould Shaw to command the 54th. At first skeptical, Shaw soon insisted that black soldiers were the fighting equals of their white counterparts. When he learned that black soldiers would be paid less than white soldiers, he led the regiment in protest by refusing their reduced salaries until Congress would grant them equal pay. On July 18, 1863, the 54th Massachusetts led the attack on Fort Wagner, with Colonel Shaw shouting "Onward boys! Onward boys!" He was killed as the regiment reached the parapet of the fort and was buried alongside his soldiers on Morris Island. Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts were commemorated in a bronze sculpture that stands on Boston Common as well as in the 1989 film Glory.

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