‘Glory’ troops assault Fort Wagner
After one recent failed attempt to take Fort Wagner on Morris Island on South Carolina’s coast, an all-black regiment formed as the 54th Massachusetts Infantry launched an all-out attack on July 18, 1863, that would inspire the 1989 movie Glory.
Vicious hand-to-hand fighting ensued, with many left dead and wounded as Confederates holding the fort fought back from a fort bristling with artillery.
Black troops bravely headed up the parapets, even as many were mowed down by artillery and gunfire.
It was one of the prominent moments when blacks played a major role in Civil War combat. After the bloodied, tattered regiment was turned back, other Union units also tried to take the fort and failed.
Once the fighting subsided, far heavier losses were counted on the Union side with about 1,515 casualties to about 174 Confederates defending the fort. The 54th’s colonel, Robert Gould Shaw, was among the dead.