The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Organizing the 54th

Our "Object of the Month" for May is a letter from Massachusetts governor John A. Andrew to Francis Shaw. In the letter, dated 30 January 1863, Governor Andrew lays out his reasons for forming what would become the 54th Massachusetts, the first regular army regiment of African American soldiers raised in the North during the Civil War. Enclosed with the letter was a note to Francis' son Robert, offering him command of the regiment. Francis Shaw personally carried Andrew's letter to his son, then in winter encampment with the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry in Virginia. Robert was at first not entirely enthused about the idea, but his father proved persuasive ... and the rest, as they say, is history.

You can read the whole story, see digital versions and transcriptions of Andrew's letters to Francis and Robert Gould Shaw, and get ideas for further reading and research here.

permalink | Published: Wednesday, 13 May, 2009, 2:54 PM


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