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The 54th Massachusetts Regiment

Sergeant Henry F. Steward (detail), 1863, hand-colored ambrotype, Collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Photo. 2. 162.

This roster includes the names of the more than 1,500 soldiers and officers who served with the 54th Massachusetts Regiment at some point between March 1863 and April 1865. The men’s age, enlistment and mustered out dates, place of origin, profession at enlistment, rank, and company are also provided if known. Most mustered in and out with the rank of private, but 52 were promoted to sergeant and two rose to become sergeants major—the highest rank then possible for an African American soldier. The 54th Massachusetts Regiment was divided into eleven companies (A through K). About a quarter of the men were Massachusetts residents; others came from both Union and Confederate states as well as a handful of foreign countries. The average age at enlistment was 24: the youngest gave his age as 16; the oldest as 47. Most of the Black soldiers were farmers and laborers, while many of the white officers, including Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, abandoned their college studies or professional careers to join the Union army.

If known, an individual’s fate at the Battle of Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863, is listed as wounded, killed, missing and presumed dead, or survived. If it could be confirmed that a soldier was not present at Fort Wagner for any reason (such as discharged, transferred, deserted, captured, killed, or not yet mustered in before July 18, 1863), he is listed here as “not present.”

We have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of the names and personal data presented and have provided only information that could be confirmed in primary sources. It bears noting that Civil War military and pension records constituted the bulk of available archival materials, and that these records themselves were transcribed from oral communications and handwritten copies.

Veterans of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, May 31, 1897, Courtesy Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Massachusetts Art Commission.