"The 54th Massachusetts Volunteers was not the first black regiment in the Civil War, nor was it the first to fight. However, it was the first black regiment raised entirely of free men enrolled on exactly the same footing as white troops and the first to engage in a major action well-covered by the national press. The 54th led the assault on Battery Wagner, at Charleston, South Carolina, on July 18, 1863.
Robert Gould Shaw (October 10, 1837 – July 18, 1863) was an American officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War. As Colonel, he commanded the all-black 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, which entered the war in 1863. He was killed in the Second Battle of Fort Wagner, near Charleston, South Carolina.