Shaw achieved transfer of his troops to another command, insisting upon the importance of black participation in active war theatres. On July 8 the regiment was dispatched to James Island, near Charleston. On July 16, companies of the 54th provided rear-guard support to a company attacked by Confederates trying to recapture the island; they held their line and were cited for bravery. The regiment then went to Morris Island, at the northern end of which stood Fort Wagner.
Map of Charleston and vicinity, drawn for The Soldier in Our Civil War (New York, 1884), Old Dartmouth Historical Society-New Bedford Whaling Museum