The Attack on Fort Wagner
These steel engravings are from the History of the War for the Union. One of them is hand-colored. They depict the attack on Fort Wagner, located on Morris Island, South Carolina. The fort covered the approach to Charleston’s harbor. The first assault occurred on July 11, 1863. Only 12 Confederate soldiers were killed, as opposed to the Union’s 330 losses.
The Second Battle took place a week later, July 18, 1863. It was led by the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, one of the first major military units made up of black soldiers. Their colonel, Robert Gould Shaw, was killed in the assault and the fort was not taken. Although a tactical defeat, the battle proved a political victory since the valor of the 54th against hopeless odds proved the worth of black soldiers. This is the subject of the movie Glory.