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54th Massachusetts Infantry USA

Name: Michael COSGROVE Rank: Private Company:
54threg or 56th reg
44th or the 48th
Contact Name: Tom Ryan
Contact E-Mail: Click for E-mail
Homepage:
Date Added: 12/24/2011Edit Ancestor Edit your relative   Delete Ancestor Delete your relative
Name: Robert John SimmonsRank: 1st Sergeant Company: B
1. NOT my ancestor, but he was such a distinguished soldier that justice demands that he be listed.

2. FIRST SERGEANT ROBERT JOHN SIMMONS was a 26 year old clerk from Bermuda who enlisted as a Private in Company B of the 54th Mass. Infantry Regiment (Colored) on 12 Mar. 1863; he received a cash enlistment bonus in the amount of $50; and, he was mustered into Federal service as First Sergeant on 30 Mar. 1863.

3. On 18 Jul. 1863, 1SG SIMMONS participated in the charge of the 54th Mass. on Fort Wagner, near Charleston, South Carolina--which was popularized in the movie, 'Glory.' 1SG SIMMONS was wounded-in-action (in the arm) and captured by the Confederates. While a Prisoner-of-War, 1SG SIMMONS had his arm amputated. Unfortunately, he died of his wounds, while a Prisoner-of-War in Charleston, on 18 or 23 Aug. 1863.

4. 1SG SIMMONS was, evidently, thought of very highly by the officers of the 54th Mass.: e.g., Capt. Luis F. Emilio wrote: 'It is due, however, to the following-named enlisted men that they be recorded above their fellows for especial merit: [1st] Sgt. Robert J. Simmons, [Col.] Sgt. William H. Carney....' (Emilio, p. 90) Please note that the name of 1SG SIMMONS precedes that of Sgt. Carney--the latter of whom was awarded first the Gillmore Medal, and then the Congressional Medal of Honor.

5. According to Capt. Luis F. Emilio, 'First Sergeant Simmons of Company B was the finest-looking soldier in the 54th Mass.--a brave man, and of good education. He was wounded and captured. Taken to Charleston, his [military] bearing impressed even his captors. After suffering amputation of the arm, he died there.' (Emilio, p. 93.)

6. According to African-American scholar (and former slave!), William Wells Brown of Cambridge, Mass., '... 1st Sgt. R.J. Simmons [was] a young man of more than ordinary ability, who had learned the science of war in the British Army.' (Brown, p. 209)

7. It is no wonder then, with 1SG SIMMONS being a veteran of the British Army, that Col. Thomas Wentworth Higginson would write: '1st Sgt. R.J. Simmons... [was] especially complimented in the report of Lt. Col. Hallowell, who was left in command [of the 54th Mass., after the great charge upon the works of Fort Wagner]....' (Higginson, Vol. I, p. 86)

SOURCES:
1. Brown, William Wells. 'The Negro in the American Rebellion.' Boston, Mass.: Lee & Shepard, 1867; p. 209.

2. Emilio, Capt. Luis F. 'A Brave Black Regiment.' Boston, Mass.: The Boston Book Company, 1894; pp. 59, 90, 93 & 348.

3. Higginson, Col. Thomas Wentworth. 'Massachusetts in the Army and Navy, 1861-65.' Two volumes. Boston, Mass.: Wright & Potter, State Printers, 1895-96; Vol. I, pp. 86 & 549.

4. Massachusetts, Adjutant General of the Commonwealth of. 'Record of the Massachusetts Volunteers, 1861-1865.' Two volumes. Boston, Mass.: Wright & Potter, State Printers, 1868 & 1870; Vol. II, p. 850.

5. Massachusetts, Secretary of the Commonwealth of. 'Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War.' Nine volumes. Norwood, Mass.: Norwood Press, 1932; Vol. IV, p. 668.

Contact Name: Douglass R. Knight
Contact E-Mail: Click for E-mail
Homepage: http://N/A
Date Added: 10/14/2009Edit Ancestor Edit your relative   Delete Ancestor Delete your relative
Name: William H. CarneyRank: Sergeant Company: C
NOT my ancestor, but he was such a distinguished soldier that justice demands that his name be listed: he was the first African-American recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

SGT. WILLIAM H. CARNEY was a 22 year old seaman who was born in Norfolk, Va., and residing in New Bedford, Mass., when he enlisted in Co. C of the 54th Mass. on 17 Feb. 1863; he was mustered into Federal service on 30 Mar. 1863.

On 18 Jul. 1863, he participated in the famous Assault on Fort Wagner, outside Charleston, SC, in which he and his esteemed regiment earned undying glory.... He was so severely wounded in this assault that he was discharged for disability from his wounds on 30 Jun. 1864.

On 23 May 1890, SGT. CARNEY received the Congressional Medal of Honor; his citation reads as follows: 'When the Color Sergeant was shot down [in the assault], this soldier grasped the flag and led the way to the parapet, and planted the colors thereon. When the troops fell back, he brought off the flag under a fierce fire in which he was twice severely wounded.' Upon returning to Union lines with the flag, SGT. CARNEY, bleeding from multiple wounds, proudly proclaimed: 'the old flag never touched the ground, boys,' whereupon he collapsed from his wounds....

The military awards and decorations that SGT. CARNEY was entitled to and/or received were, in Order of Precedence, as follows:
1. Congressional Medal of Honor (received);
2. Purple Heart Medal (entitled);
3. Civil War Campaign Medal (entitled);
4. Gillmore Medal (received); and,
5. Grand Army of the Republic Membership Badge (unknown).

SOURCES:
1. America's Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients and their Official Citations (Columbia Heights, Minn.: Highland House II, 2002); p. 821.
2. Emilio, Capt. Luis F. A Brave Black Regiment: The History of the 54th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1863-1865 (New York, NY: Arno Press REPRINT, 1969); p. 349.
3. The Adjutant General. Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War (Norwood, Mass.: Norwood Press, 1932); Vol. IV, p. 670.

NOTE:
SGT. CARNEY's great-grand-nephew, CARL CRUZ, still resides in New Bedford, Mass.--and has his distinguished ancestor's original Medal of Honor in his possession.

Contact Name: Douglass R. Knight
Contact E-Mail: Click for E-mail
Homepage: http://N/A
Date Added: 1/5/2009Edit Ancestor Edit your relative   Delete Ancestor Delete your relative
Name: Joseph T. WilsonRank: Private Company: C
NOT my ancestor, but he was such a distinguished soldier that justice demands that his name be listed.

PRIVATE JOSEPH T. WILSON was born in Norfolk, Va., in 1836; at a young age (possibly on the Underground Railroad), he came to New Bedford, Mass., where he had the benefit of the public schools (NOTE: teaching African-Americans to read and write was UNLAWFUL in slave states). Upon graduation from the New Bedford, Mass., public schools in 1855, he signed-on as a seaman on board a Yankee Whaleship from out of New Bedford. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, he was at sea off the west coast of South America, and returned to the US ASAP in order to enlist in the US Army.

On 30 Sep. 1862, after having made his way to New Orleans, La.--which was then occupied by MG Ben Butler's Union Army of the Gulf--JOSEPH T. WILSON enlisted as a Private in Co. G of the 2nd La. Native Guard (i.e., African-American) Regiment; this unit was later re-designated as the 74th US Colored Infantry Regiment. In 1863, he participated in the Port Hudson Campaign. And, on 01 Dec, 1863, he was honorably discharged, so that he could return home to New Bedford, and enlist in the 54th Mass. Inf. Rgt.

On 13 Dec. 1863, 27 year old JOSEPH T. WILSON enlisted as a Private in Co. C of the 54th Mass. Inf. Rgt.

On 20 Feb. 1864, PRIVATE WILSON participated in the Battle of Olustee, Fla., where he was wounded-in-action.

On 08 May 1864, PRIVATE WILSON was honorably discharged for disability, due to the wound that he received in the Battle of Olustee, Fla.

After the Civil War, he relocated to Norfolk, Va., where he joined the local post of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR). In 1881 or 82, he was elected by his comrades to be the OFFICIAL HISTORIAN of African-American troops in the Union Army, whereupon he commenced a 5 1/2-year-long research project, which resulted in the publication of his excellent book, 'The Brave Black Phalanx,' in 1887. (NOTE: this is the BEST book ever written on African-American military history: who is more qualified to write African-American military history than an African-American soldier?!!!) As a reward for his efforts, he was made Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to the Commander-in-Chief (CIC) of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), and given the honorary rank of Colonel--something which was unprecedented for an African-American in the 19th Century.

At only 55 years of age, COLONEL WILSON passed away in 1891; he was, presumably, attended by his GAR comrades, and buried in Norfolk, Va.

SOURCES:
1. Emilio, Capt. Luis F. A Brave Black Regiment: The History of the 54th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1863-65. (New York, NY: Arno Press Reprint, 1969), p. 353.
2. The Adjutant General. Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War. Norwood, Mass.: Norwood Press, 1932; Vol. IV, p. 674.
3. Wilson, Col. Joseph T. The Black Phalanx: African-American Soldiers in the War of Independence, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. Hartford, CT: American Publishing Co., 1887.

Contact Name: Douglass R. Knight
Contact E-Mail: Click for E-mail
Homepage: http://N/A
Date Added: 1/16/2009Edit Ancestor Edit your relative   Delete Ancestor Delete your relative
Name: Charles R. DouglassRank: Private Company: F
NOT my ancestor, but such a distinguished soldier that justice demands that his name be added.

PRIVATE CHARLES R. DOUGLASS--the son of noted African-American abolitionist FREDERICK DOUGLASS--was born in New Bedford, Mass., and raised in Lynn, Mass.; as a 19 year old printer from Rochester, NY (where he worked on his esteemed father's newspaper), he enlisted as a Private in Co. F of the 54th Mass. Inf. Rgt. on 18 Apr. 1863; and, he was mustered-into Federal service on 23 Apr. 1863. He served as an Orderly to a high-ranking officer, presumably his regimental commander, Col. Robert Gould Shaw.

On 18 Jul. 1863, he participated in the famous Assault on Fort Wagner, near Charleston, SC.

On 19 Mar. 1864, he was honorably discharged from the 54th Mass. Inf. Rgt. for promotion in the 5th Mass. Cav. Rgt.

SOURCES:
1. Emilio, Capt. Luis F. A Brave Black Regiment: The History of the 54th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1863-65. (New York, NY: Arno Press Reprint, 1969); p. 364.
2. Kendrick, Rev. Stephen. Douglass and Lincoln. New York, N.Y.: Walker and Co., 2008.
3. The Adjutant General. Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War. Norwood, Mass.: Norwood Press, 1932; Vol. IV, p. 686.

Contact Name: Douglass R. Knight
Contact E-Mail: Click for E-mail
Homepage: http://N/A
Date Added: 1/16/2009Edit Ancestor Edit your relative   Delete Ancestor Delete your relative
Name: Lewis H. DouglassRank: Sergeant Major Company: Field & Staff
NOT my ancestor, but such a distinguished soldier that justice demands that his name be listed.

SGT. MAJ. LEWIS H. DOUGLASS, the son of noted African-American abolitionist FREDERICK DOUGLASS, was born in New Bedford, Mass., and raised in Lynn, Mass. As a 22 year old printer from Rochester, N.Y. (where he had been working on his esteemed father's newspaper), LEWIS H. DOUGLASS enlisted as a Private in Co. F of the 54th Mass. Inf. Rgt. on 25 Mar. 1863; he was promoted to the rank of, and mustered-into Federal service as Sergeant Major on 23 Apr. 1863.

On 18 Jul. 1863, SGT. MAJ. DOUGLASS participated in the Assault on Fort Wagner, near Charleston, SC, where he was wounded-in-action (in the left leg).

On 10 May 1864, SGT. MAJ. DOUGLASS was honorably discharged for disability, due to an extremely severe concussion that he received from being too close to the discharge of heavy artillery.

As of the writing of Capt. Luis F. Emilio's superb history of the 54th Mass., 'A Brave Black Regiment,' in 1895-96, LEWIS DOUGLASS was residing in Washington, DC.

SOURCES:
1. Emilio, Capt. Luis F. A Brave Black Regiment: The History of the 54th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1863-65. (New York, NY: Arno Press Reprint, 1969); p. 339.
2. Kendrick, Rev. Stephen. Douglass and Lincoln. New York, N.Y.: Walker and Co., 2008.
3. The Adjutant General. Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War. Norwood, Mass.: Norwood Press, 1932; Vol. IV, p. 658.

Contact Name: Douglass R. Knight
Contact E-Mail: Click for E-mail
Homepage: http://N/A
Date Added: 1/16/2009Edit Ancestor Edit your relative   Delete Ancestor Delete your relative
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