BOOK – BLUE-EYED CHILD OF FORTUNE: THE CIVIL WAR LETTERS OF COLONEL ROBERT GOULD SHAW EDITED BY RUSSELL DUNCAN.
This is American Civil War Colonel Robert Gould Shaw’s (1837-1863) interesting story. Shaw’s life and death were immortalized in the hit 1989 movie Glory, which starred Matthew Broderick as Shaw. Robert Gould Shaw was born to one of the wealthiest families in Massachusetts and grew up in Boston and New York. He traveled extensively abroad and spent two years at Harvard. He and his family were staunch abolitionists. When the Civil War broke out in 1861 he enlisted in a regiment from New York as a private, then later served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry. While with that regiment, he participated in battles at Winchester, Cedar Mountain, and Antietam.
Later, when Massachusetts raised the first all-black infantry regiment, the 54th Massachusetts, his father urged him to take its command and Shaw did so. After its training was complete, the regiment was sent to South Carolina. On 18 July 1863 his regiment, along with two brigades of white troops, assaulted the Confederate positions at Battery Wagner. Shaw was mortally wounded at the head of his troops. The attack ultimately failed and Battery Wagner was never captured. The 54th Massachusetts suffered more than 50% casualties. As an insult, the Confederates buried Shaw in a mass grave with his soldiers. His family back North instead considered it an honor that also honored them. Robert Gould Shaw was twenty-five at the time of his death, having been married only two months prior. A very famous monument to Shaw and the men of the 54th Massachusetts later was erected on the Boston Commons.
This book tells his story. What is more important, it features some two-hundred letters written to his mother while he was serving in the army from April 1861 through July 1863. The 421-page hardback was published by the University of Georgia Press in 1992 and has an intact dust jacket. It is very interesting.