The 54th Massachusetts Colored
Infantry was the nation’s most famous all-black
regiment. Its (white) commander was Colonel Robert
Gould Shaw, the brother-in-law of Harper’s
Weekly editor George William Curtis. In July
1863 the Massachusetts 54th spearheaded
an assault on Fort Wagner, a Confederate
stronghold outside Charleston, South Carolina.
Their high casualty rate in the battle, included
Colonel Shaw. The story of the Massachusetts 54th
and their heroic though ill-fated attack on Fort
Wagner is retold in the 1989 film
"Glory." A monument in Boston Commons
honors their service and memory.