Dr. George Junne, professor in Africana Studies at the University of Northern Colorado has written a massive 660-page book entitled “A History of the Fifty-Fourth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Colored Infantry in the Civil War”
Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — Dr. George Junne has written a comprehensive and detailed history of the most important African-American Regiment in the Union Army of the Civil War, the Massachusetts 54th Infantry Regiment (Colored). While the film Glory brought that unit to the public’s attention, the real story is even more remarkable.
Their young colonel, Robert Gould Shaw, was reluctant to take command of the unit and initially, did not believe the recruits would make good soldiers. Ironically, his unit changed his attitude, and Shaw began to refer to them as “men.” Massachusetts’ wartime governor, John Albion Andrew, was a key figure in the organization of the unit, as was Frederick Douglass and others.
Although an academic press has published the book, which was released on August 1, it is also geared to the average person who not only is interested in African-American military history, but who also desires to know about the struggles and accomplishments of Black Bostonians before and during the Civil War. Further, one can appreciate the support of some White people who were in the antislavery movement and others who helped to form the regiment.
One can also grasp the resourcefulness of Black people who organized and demanded that they, too, be allowed to participate in that war, including the women. None of them wanted people to say after the war that only White people had rescued Blacks from slavery. However, several years later, the exploits of the 54th and its sister unit, the 55th, would almost be forgotten.
Although many now know about the 54th’s famous battle at Fort Wagner, most people do not know about their other campaigns such as in Florida and other places. After the war, many of the men became noted leaders in both the North and the South. The soldiers came from all occupations and social classes and served with pride and dignity.
A History of the Fifty-Fourth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Colored Infantry in the Civil War
By Dr. George Junne
Imprint: Edwin Mellen Press
For more information about the book, visit:
Photo Caption: Bookcover and author, Dr. George Junne