Hero Tales from American History, page 109
by Henry Cabot Lodge

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110

onor in an assault upon Fort Wagner, which was ordered for that night. He had proved that the negroes could be made into a good regiment, and now the second great opportunity had come, to prove their fighting quality. He wanted to demonstrate that his men could fight side by side with white soldiers, and show to somebody beside their officers what stuff they were made of. He, therefore, accepted the dangerous duty with gladness. Late in the day the troops were marched across Folly and Morris islands and formed in line of battle within six hundred yards of Fort Wagner. At half-past seven the order for the charge was given, and the regiment advanced. When they were within a hundred yards of the fort, the rebel fire opened with such effect that the first battalion hesitated and wavered. Colonel Shaw sprang to the front, and waving his sword, shouted: "Forward, 54th!" With another cheer, the men rushed through the ditch, and gained a parapet on the right. Colonel Shaw was one of the first to scale the walls. As he stood erect, a noble figure, ordering his men forward and shouting to them to press on, he was shot dead and fell into the fort. After his fall, the assault was repulsed.

General Haywood, commanding the rebel forces, said to a Union prisoner: "I knew Colonel Shaw before the war, and then esteemed him. Had he been in command of white troops, I should have given him an honorable burial. As it is, I shall bury him in the common trench, with the negroes that fell with him." He little knew that he was giving the dead soldier the most honorable burial that man could have devised, for the savage words told unmistakably that Robert Shaw's work had not been in vain. The order to bury him with his "niggers," which ran through the North and remained fixed in our history, showed, in a flash of light, the hideous barbarism of a system which made such things and such feelings possible. It also showed that slavery was wounded to the death, and that the brutal phrase was the angry snarl of a dying tiger. Such words

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