During nearly two years of service in the Second, in which
he rose to the rank of captain, Shaw was wounded at Antietam and
saw some of his closest comrades fall in battle. But his resolve
grew only firmer with each fight. In February 1863, Francis Shaw
personally delivered Governor John Andrew's offer of command of the
new Massachusetts Fifty-fourth Regiment to his son Robert, then at
Stafford Court House, Virginia. Not certain he was "equal to the
responsibility of such a position," and no doubt reluctant to
leave the regiment to which he was devoted, the younger Shaw at first
declined the offer. But his strong sense of duty prevailed.
"Now," his mother wrote after he had accepted the colonelcy, "I
feel ready to die, for I see you willing to give y[ou]r support
to the cause of truth that is lying crushed and bleeding."