Did you guys hear about this? Totally strange. A woman threw paint on the monument of Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts US Colored Troops because she believed it was “an improper depiction of history.”
For those of you who don’t know, or who haven’t seen the movie Glory, Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts have one of the most inspiring Civil War stories. Shaw, a young Colonel from an abolitionist family, commanded the 54th Mass. USCTs after his father approached him to do so in 1862. Though Shaw was at first skeptical, the bravery of his men won him over. Notably, he helped them achieve equal pay through a boycott that got Congress’s attention (since they were originally being paid less than their fellow white soldiers).
On July 18th, 1863, Shaw and many of his men were killed at Fort Wagner near Charleston, SC. Shaw was shot through the heart and died almost instantly after shouting his famous rallying cry, “Forward, Fifty-Fourth, Forward!” Confederate soldiers buried him in a mass grave along with other colored troops. General Johnson Hagood, when he was asked why Shaw’s body was not returned along with the other white soldiers, replied, “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.”
His family tried to recover his body, although eventually declared that they were proud to know that he was buried alongside his men. His father wrote, “We can imagine no holier place than that in which he lies, among his brave and devoted followers…”
He was only 25 years-old.
[Can we just take a minute here and gawk at that fact? Twenty. Five. I’m 22! I get a lump in my throat when I think about how honorable and how incredible of a life he lead, and how young he was when he died. This war consistently baffles me when I think about the fact that many if not most of the soldiers were young boys. 15, 16, hell, 13! Giving their lives - confederates and federalists…]
Originally, this monument was supposed to only have Shaw in it. But when his family found this out, they insisted his soldiers be depicted as well.
Although the woman says she is not guilty, she has previously been diagnosed with a mood disorder and has been hospitalized several times.
Anyway, as for ‘an improper depiction of history’ - the strange part about this whole story is that the woman who threw the paint is an African American. Perhaps she doesn’t know that African Americans fought in the Civil War? It’s impossible to speculate what someone who isn’t totally mentally stable thinks, but it does raise some interesting questions about whether or not our public education system is doing enough to tell the story of colored troops to the African American public.