Today in 1863 Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, commander of the 54th Massachusetts, led his black troops on an assault of Fort Wagner near Charleston South Carolina. After braving cannon and rifle fire the troops crossed the fort’s parapets and engaged in hand-to-hand combat. The 54th Massachusetts was beaten back with heavy casualties including Colonel Shaw. The Federal troops commenced siege operations in order to reduce the fort.
This was the fourth time a black regiment had been used in battle proving once again they would fight if given the chance.