The Civil War is still a topic of conversation. People want to know about relatives who fought in that devastating time in American History. Once people find out about their relatives, and how they had to live, history becomes a sad place to be, especially in 1861 through 1865. Both sides went through extraordinary circumstances. One man continues to be a topic of conversations. His name is, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. Hollywood even put Shaw’s story on the big screen in the movie, Glory.
Colonel Shaw’s memory is alive once more, thanks to a recent discovery in an attic in Boston. Shaw’s Union sword was sitting in a distant relative’s attic. The Massachusetts Historical Society has the sword now. And the society will put it on display to commemorate the anniversary of Shaw’s death. He died during a battle outside of Charlestown, South Carolina in 1863.
Shaw was a 25-year-old white officer when he got the news he would be the commanding officer of an all-black unit. White officers usually were in charge of black troops during the war. Shaw’s sword became a Confederate soldier’s trophy after the battle. But two years later the sword found its way back to Boston and Shaw’s parents. But the sword went to Robert’s sister, Susanna Minturn because Shaw didn’t have kids. No one knew where the sword went when Susanna died. The Massachusetts Historical Society knew the sword could still be in Boston, but the society had no clue where it was until one Minturn’s relative’s found it in their mother’s attic in 2017.
The Union’s attack on the Confederate fort outside of Charleston was a miserable defeat, but the memory of Shaw and the 600 black Union soldiers that lost their lives in that battle are an important part of American History. The Civil War gave black men the opportunity to show they had the fortitude to do what white soldiers could do, and in many cases, they did it better, according to historical accounts given by men who were still around when the shooting stopped.
On Tuesday, The Massachusetts Historical Society put on display what has been called the “holy grail of civil war swords.” It is a sword that belonged to famed Union Army colonel, Robert Gould Shaw, and a sword that had been missing since 1865.
Colonel Shaw, leader of the Union Army’s first all-black regiment, died with the sword in hand during the Second Battle of Fort Wagner. A Confederate soldier then took the sword until Union soldiers reclaimed it in 1865. But from there, the sword disappeared. Many believed it would never be found. Until, in March of this year, the sword finally turned up in Massachusetts, in the attic of Mary Minturn Haskins, wife of the grandson of Colonel Shaw’s sister. The Haskins family has graciously decided to donate the sword to the Massachusetts Historical Society, where it will be on display through September.
Colonel Shaw, who was immortalized in the 1989 film “Glory,” was the son of abolitionist parents, and it was his father who gave him command of the army’s first all-black regiment. Shaw was a white man, but nonetheless he developed a very close relationship with his troops in a time of sharp racial divide, going so far as to join them in their refusal to accept army wages until they were paid as much as their white counterparts.
After Shaw’s heroic death in the Second Battle of Fort Wagner, Confederate soldiers buried him in a mass grave along with his black soldiers. The Confederates meant it as an insult, but the Union saw it as a tribute to Shaw’s legacy as a man committed to equality. Colonel Shaw was a great man, and, thanks to the serendipitous discovery of his sword, we now have a monument to honor him.
The United States came to be when the South surrendered to the North, two years after the defeat of the Confederate army. The turning point of the American Civil War came when General Robert Edward Lee decided to directly attack the Cemetary Ridge, the place where the Unions were. Unfortunate for his army, the Union army was well prepared. The ground provided enough cover for the troop to hide and they did some improvising that put them on the upper hand. As much as the Confederate soldiers tried, it was impossible to get the Unions out of their position. The attack back fired on the Confederates as they were the ones who became an easy target for the Union army.
One thing that helped the Union army to be the victors in the war is the general understood the geography of the place. He was always keen not to put his soldiers on a clear ground, knowing that could compromise them. The troops used the Blue Ridge Mountains as cover and kept off the flat areas. After the defeat of the Confederate army, General Lee took advantage of the rainy weather to retire his troop using the Potomac River.
The end of the civil war must have been a good thing for the modern America as in a survey done showed that a good number of Americans think the State is better than before. According to Max Roser, the Oxford economist, America has come from far to be where it is today. He says it is vital that people keep the faith no matter what. The only way is to understand the state’s history. The end of the war brought freedom and freedom is an important aspect of life. Something that has seen people work hard to have self-improvement as well as look for ways to tackle future challenges.