Where Death and Glory Meet: Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Infantry

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9780820321356: Where Death and Glory Meet: Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Infantry
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On July 18, 1863, the African American soldiers of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry led a courageous but ill-fated charge on Fort Wagner, a key bastion guarding Charleston harbor. Confederate defenders killed, wounded, or made prisoners of half the regiment. Only hours later, the body of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the regiment's white commander, was thrown into a mass grave with those of twenty of his men. The assault promoted the young colonel to the higher rank of martyr, ranking him alongside the legendary John Brown in the eyes of abolitionists.In this biography of Shaw, Russell Duncan presents a poignant portrait of an average young soldier, just past the cusp of manhood and still struggling against his mother's indomitable will, thrust unexpectedly into the national limelight. Using information gleaned from Shaw's letters home before and during the war, Duncan tells the story of the rebellious son of wealthy Boston abolitionists who never fully reconciled his own racial prejudices yet went on to head the North's first black regiment and give his life to the cause of freedom. This thorough biography looks at Shaw from historical and psychological viewpoints and examines the complex family relationships that so strongly influenced him.

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About the Author:

Russell Duncan is a professor of history in the English Institute at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He is the author of several books, including First Person Past: American Autobiographies, Freedom's Shore: Tunis Campbell and the Georgia Freedmen (Georgia), and Entrepreneur for Equality: Governor Rufus Bullock, Commerce, and Race in Post-Civil War Georgia (Georgia).

From Library Journal:

Much like Joshua Chamberlain, Robert Gould Shaw has attained near-legendary status in the pantheon of Civil War heroes, yet the striking monument to Shaw and his men on Boston Common portrays a resolution not always evident in the young colonel's correspondence. Duncan (Univ. of Copenhagen), whose previous publications include an excellent edition of Shaw's letters accompanied by a brief (and, as he immodestly reminds us, praised) sketch, now presents an expanded version of that essay, which enriches but does not materially alter current scholarly understandings. If anything, it may lengthen the shadow Shaw and his men already cast over other black regiments, further obscuring other accomplishments. Although matters of military history occasionally elude Duncan's grasp, he deftly manipulates Shaw's story in support of his insistence that emancipation is what makes the Civil War "worth studying and teaching"; fortunately, his discussion of Shaw and those around him offers a more complicated and compelling reality.ABrooks D. Simpson, Arizona State Univ., Tempe
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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