Robert Gould Shaw 1837–1863 The Principal Subject of the 1989 Film Glory, Where He is Portrayed by Matthew Broderick.
As Colonel, he commanded the all-black 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, which entered the war in 1863. He was killed in the Second Battle of Fort Wagner, near Charleston, South Carolina.
The victorious Confederates buried him in a mass grave with many of his men, an act they intended as an insult. Following the battle, commanding Confederate General Johnson Hagood returned the bodies of the other Union officers who had died, but left Shaw’s where it was. Hagood informed a captured Union surgeon that “had he been in command of white troops, I should have given him an honorable burial; as it is, I shall bury him in the common trench with the negroes that fell with him.” Although efforts were made to recover Shaw’s body (which had been stripped and robbed prior to burial), Shaw’s father publicly proclaimed that he was proud to know that his son was interred with his troops, befitting his role as a soldier and a crusader for social justice. In a letter to the regimental surgeon, Lincoln Stone, Frank Shaw wrote:
"We would not have his body removed from where it lies surrounded by his brave and devoted soldiers….We can imagine no holier place than that in which he lies, among his brave and devoted followers, nor wish for him better company. – what a body-guard he has!"