The 54th Massachusetts: The Doomed Assault On Fort Wagner Essay Sample

10 October 2017

The Assault on Fort Wagner has long been the topic of many treatments on the Civil War and is featured conspicuously in all books that have been written about the Civil War. The Assault on Fort Wagner has even been immortalized in the onscreen version entitledGlory. While there has been a batch of treatment with respect to the success of the 54ThursdayMassachusetts. which figured conspicuously in the Assault on Fort Wagner. the fact is that the assault was doomed from the beginning and that the Assault on Fort Wagner was unsuccessful ( Duncan 1999 ) . This short discourse will discourse why such an onslaught was unsuccessful and therefore demoing why the Assault by the 54ThursdayMassachusetts was doomed from the start. To better understand why the assault of the 54ThursdayMassachusetts on Fort Wagner was doomed it is of import to hold a brief treatment of the some of the events that transpired on that fatal twenty-four hours. July 18. 1863.

It was July 18. 1863 when General Quincy Gilmore decided to get down the assault against Fort Wagner on Morris Island ( Duncan 1999 ) . This was a important location because it guarded the Southern attacks to Charleston Harbor. The Fort was hard to assail straight because it was held by a fort of Confederate Infantry and Artillery and the Fort itself was protected by a narrow attack up the beach. To do affairs worse. the base on balls was constricted by a marshy brook which funneled the soldiers onto a strip of sand a few 100 pess broad doing them vulnerable to enemy fire.

The 54th Massachusetts: The Doomed Assault On Fort Wagner Essay Sample Essay Example

The Assault on Fort Wagner was led by the 54th Massachusetts. which was an experimental black regiment of free work forces from the North. This regiment was selected to ramp the forepart with the bayonets and rifles ( Duncan 1999 ) . The 54Thursdaywas suffered monolithic losingss because of their failure in destructing the sandbagged gun emplacements of the Fort. The assault led by the 54ThursdayMassachusetts was besides made more hard by the fact that they were under heavy fire from the heavy heavy weapon and the massed musketry.

Soon after. the first S. C. Artillery positioned itself on the right wing of the garrison. in the sand dunes. in order to be able to brush the forepart wall of the Fort with Cannister. The drawn-out manus to manus contending that ensued was fierce after which the Federal military personnels were ordered to retreat because of the heavy losingss that they suffered. The backdown of the Federal Troops left Fort Wagner in the custodies of the Confederates ( Wise 1994 ) .

At this point it becomes clear that the Assault on Fort Wagner was sick conceived and ill planned as manifested. non merely by the immense losingss that were suffered but besides by subsequent backdown of the Federal Troops ( Wise 1994 ) . There are two chief grounds why the assault of the 54ThursdayMassachusetts failed. There was a failure to appreciate the fact that Fort Wagner was strategically located and thereby leting a comparatively little force in comparing to support it against the foot and there was the failure to supply more support for the doomed 54ThursdayMassachusetts ( Wise 1994 ) .

The first ground was that Fort Wagner was a to the full enclosed and good defended garrison. It spanned 250 by 100 paces and covered the full southern cervix of Cumming’s Point from the Atlantic on the Eastern side to an unpassable swamp on the Western side ( Emilio 1894 ) . The garrison was an baronial figure as its sloping sand and earthen parapets rose about 30 ( 30 ) pess above the beach degree and each side was bolstered by palmetto logs and sandbags. The defences of Fort Wagner included 14 ( 14 ) cannons. the largest of which was a 10-inch Columbiad that fired a 128-pound shell ( Emilio 1894 ) . The chief characteristic that made any land assault on the garrison hard was the fact that the fort’s land face. which was the lone topographic point where any Union assault would come from. was screened by a water-filled ditch. which was 10 pess broad and 5 pess deep. There were besides land mines that were buried along the attack and the razor-sharp palmetto bets that were set up provided extra obstructions. This made any foot assault on the Fort doomed from the start ( Emilio 1894 ) . This was the bloody lesson that General Gilmore learned as it took about two months of uninterrupted combat and changeless barrage before Fort Wagner was eventually surrendered by the Confederates. Any direct assault on the Fort. such as the one initiated by the 54ThursdayMassachusetts. would be mostly ineffective against such a good defended location that besides had the geographical advantage ( Emilio 1894 ) .

The 2nd ground for the failure of the assault of the 54ThursdayMassachusetts was the fact that they were the front line against a enemy that was non yet weakened ( Cox 1891 ) . While there was artillery support from the SSNew Ironsides.which was a virtually a natation gun platform encased in Fe. the narrow attack to the garrison made any direct assault upon it virtually doomed. The 54Thursdaywas the vanguard of the Union onslaught force and as such was expected to endure the most casualties. The heavy weapon barrage that had commenced before had made any promotion by the 54Thursdayhighly hard as the fosse was now filled with sand. while elsewhere the H2O was knee- to-waist-deep ( Cox 1891 ) . The 54Thursdaywas hence up against all odds and the lone ground why the full regiment was non decimated is a testament to the character and strength of those courageous soldiers.

The assault on Fort Wagner by the 54ThursdayMassachusetts was doomed from the start. As the vanguard for the Union. this regiment was expected to absorb the brunt of the guardians onslaughts. They were commissioned and positioned to endure most of the losingss. The heavy weapon barrage that was meant to impart support was ineffective at that point in the assault and merely served to do things more hard of the 54Thursday. The garrison was besides excessively good defended and had the strategic advantage of higher land and holding merely a individual narrow attack that could easy be defended against any direct onslaught which was shown by the failure of the 54ThursdayMassachusetts.


Cox. Clinton ( 1891 ) .Undying Glory: The narrative of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment. Boston: The Boston Book Company. 1891

Duncan. Russell ( 1999 ) .Where Death and Glory Meet: Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Infantry. University of Georgia Press. 1999.

Emilio. Luis F. ( 1894 ) .A Brave Black Regiment: The History of the 54th Massachusetts. 1863-1865. Da Capo Press. 1894.

Wise. Stephen R. ( 1994 ) .“Gate of Hell. Campaign for Charleston Harbor. 1863” .U. S. C. Press. 1994.

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