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R. G. Shaw

R. G. Shaw

Federal (USV)


Robert Gould Shaw

(1837 - 1863)

Home State: Massachusetts

Education: Harvard University

Command Billet: Company Officer

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 2nd Massachusetts Infantry

Before Antietam

At the outbreak of war in April 1861 he enlisted as Private in the 7th New York Militia (30-day unit). He was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in Company H, 2nd Massachusetts Infantry 28 May 1861 and promoted to First Lieutenant on 8 July 1861. He was at least briefly on George H Gordon's staff after the regiment's Colonel was promoted to Brigadier General in July 1862. He was promoted to Captain on 10 August 1862 and returned to his Company.

On the Campaign

He was Captain of Company H at Antietam and was slightly wounded in the neck in action there on 17 September 1862.

The rest of the War

After a quiet fall and winter 1862, with the 2nd Mass, he was appointed Colonel of the new 54th Massachusetts Infantry on 17 April 1863. He led them on the assault on Fort Wagner, SC (near Charleston), and was killed on its wall on 18 July 1863. He was buried with his men in a mass grave but reinterred in Beaufort National Cemetery, as an "unknown," after the War.

More on the Web

See a fine R. G. Shaw site from "1st Dragoon", and much about Col Shaw and the soldiers of the 54th from the US Park Service on the Heritage Trail. The National Gallery of Art has an online virtual tour of his Boston Memorial, by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. He and the 54th were the subject of the film "Glory" made in 1989.


10/10/1837; Boston, MA


7/18/1863; Fort Wagner, SC; burial in Beaufort National Cemetery, Beaufort, SC