Skip to main content

tv   American Artifacts  CSPAN  July 6, 2014 6:00pm-6:31pm EDT

6:00 pm
>> we all wish "the star-spangled banner" a happy 200th birthday. watching thank you all on our western and all of you here today, and our partners here today. thes give these conductors, men and women of the united states air force that they can. -- a big hand. as well as the smithsonian institution, our partners in washington dc and all across the country, please make sure to cleanur national mall by disposing of trash in the appropriate places. again, my name is xavier. i thank you all so much for
6:01 pm
joining us here all around the nation and around the world. thank you, guys. and be good, all right. ♪ [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> you are watching american history tv, 48 hours of programming every weekend on c- span 3. follow us on 20 for information follow us on twitter for information on our schedule. artifacts,american we visited the national gallery of art to visit the shaw memorial. the sculpture honors colonel robert gould shaw and the 54th massachusetts volunteer infantry, one of the civil war's first african american units. the work commemorates the july 18, 1863 storming of fort wagner in which 1/3 of the men were killed or wounded. pride"ibit "tell it with
6:02 pm
shines the spotlight on the members of the 54th and a group of abolitionist. >> good morning. i am the senior curator here at the national gallery of art. i am the co-curator of this exhibition. began to work on this memorial in 1883. initially, he was going to make it a monument just dedicated to shaw himself. if you look at some of the examples we have in the case behind you you will see that one of his first ideas for the monument was to depict colonel robert gould shaw on a horse. oftenind of depiction is referred to as the man on the mount. family, colonel shaw's
6:03 pm
objected to that. they thought such a depiction was too grand a way to show their young son. he was, after all, only 25 years old when he was killed at the battle of fort wagner. they thought that depiction was better reserved for generals and el. a kernel -- colon shaw's family thought it would be more appropriate to show him with his troops. went back toens the drawing board literally and came up with this conception with the idea of putting shaw surrounded by his troops. it was a revolutionary idea for the time. but even more revolutionary was aint-gaudens s
6:04 pm
depicted the figures. he spent an immense amount of time trying to get all the details in the monument correct. the details of their equipment, the rifles, their napsacks, bedrools,, the -- the bedrolls, their hats. he are photographs of shaw in face to render his accurately. if you look at the depictions of the african-americans, you can see that he is very much individualized them. some are older, some are younger, some have beards. some thinner. this might suggest to you that try to findperhaps surviving members of the 54th regiment or perhaps even photographs of members of the 54th. but that was not the case. thised who pos for
6:05 pm
monument were not members of the 54th. he just hired african-american men who he found on the streets of new york to come into his studio and pose. so that gave us the idea to form an exhibition which would try and bring the members of the 54th to life. we sought to find photographs of to actual men of the 54th bring them out of the shadows as it were. our original hope was that we might find hundreds of photographs of the soldiers of the 54th. and indeed there were close to 1500 men who were members of the 54th massachusetts regiment during the two years that it. existed alas, we were only able to find and borrow 18 photographs of men
6:06 pm
of the 54th. us to thinkced about expanding the exhibition in other very exciting and meaningful ways, to look at way and thinkder about what sparked the formation of the 54th massachusetts regiment, to look at the other men and women who formed it and who helped support it while it was in action. that is what we have shown in the other room. so why don't we go in there? when the civil war broke out in many african a americans volunteered to join the union army but they were not legally authorized to do so. it was only when president abraham lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation in january, 1863, that they could
6:07 pm
join the union army. it was at that moment that governor andrew of massachusetts leapt into action to form the 54th massachusetts regiment. he had been thinking about forming a regiment for quite some time. massachusetts and general and boston was a hotbed of abolitionist sentiment. and he had very much wanted to pull together a true -- a troop or regiment of african-american soldiers. so he looked to many of the most prominent abolitionists in the massachusetts area and boston specifically to form what was c alled a black committee which consisted of not only noted african-american abolitionists such as frederick douglass, but also white abolitionists, such
6:08 pm
as wendell phillips or george luther stern. they formed the black committee and started to rally support around the idea of forming a regiment of african-americans. they got together a group of recruiters, and a long this wall here, we have pictures of many of the men and women who spread out across the north seeking join themericans ot o regiment. the civile, during war, each state would put forth a regiment of soldiers. so you would have the 110th new york regiment. or the 20th massachusetts regiment. that means that all of the soldiers from that regiment came from massachusetts or new york. as the time -- at the time,
6:09 pm
there were not enough eligible african-americans of eligible military age to support a regiment. so the recruiters fanned out across the north seeking enlistments to join the regiment. all 15t enlistments from northern states, all border states, and some southern states as well, even enlistments from canada and the west indies. most of the people who enlisted were rfreeman. there were some runaway slaves. to recruiters themselves were many prominent abolitionists, people who i think will be familiar to many who love american history today such as, for example, sojourner truth, martin robison delany a noted
6:10 pm
abolitionist as well. promoting the was idea of black nationalism. there may be others who are less well-known to people today. such as robert purvis who was the son of a kurdish cotton broker and a free woman of color. he had been born in charleston, south carolina, lived quite a bit in philadelphia. he was so rich that he was known as the president of the underground railroad. as you can see from this wonderful daguerreotype we have very attractive. sojourner truth was also another of the recruiters. nton,otte horton -- thor we was one of the women featured, she would have contact with the 54th regiment when they
6:11 pm
sailed to the charleston and buford area. taught many of the soldiers to read and a school that she set up in that area. she was actually the niece of for example, or, charles lennox raymond who was also a very prominent abolitionist in the 1850's and a noted speaker, someone who rivaled frederick douglass in the 1850's. here,ong these two walls we have pictures of some of the members of the 54th. we've begun with a picture of colonel robert gould shaw. the commission as colonel of the regiment by governor anders. that was one of the first things
6:12 pm
governor andrew did. he made sure he had for leadership of the 54th. at the time, military regulations stipulated that the soldiers could be african-americans but the officers had to be white. that was the rule. and governor andrew knew it was important to have the leadership from strongbe men abolitionist families, which shaw's family was. so he offered the leadership to shaw. shaw was initially hesitant about accepting it. seen the have heard or movie "glory," which came out in the late 1980's starring denzel washington and rather broader. broderick.
6:13 pm
broderick played shaw. the movie depicts shaw's reluctance about accepting the commission. have beene may hesitant to accept because he was only 25 years old. imagine leaving such -- leading such a momentous band of men at such a very young age. other pictures along this wall i think are equally momentous. these two are made of soldiers right after they received their uniforms and their rifles at camp meade. we know they were issued their rifles early in may, 1863. and these two soldiers from the ase company i of the 54th, soon as they got their uniforms and their rifles seems to have
6:14 pm
marched themselves down to the local photographer's studio to have their pictures taken. or looked to -- at this picture here. frederick douglass had two sons in the 54th. sergeant major lewis douglass was one of them. he was one of the highest ranking african-american soldiers in the 54th. he was known as a very calm and courageous leader. i think you see that in his stance and in his expression. frederick douglass was someone who very much understood the power of photography and how photography could be used to spread his image across the land and in spreading his image, help to spread his ideas and help convince people of the merit of his ideas.
6:15 pm
i think you can see that his son here has also inculcated some of that understanding of how useful photography could be to him. look at the way he's standing. he has his arms crossed, standing up very straight, very confidently. but look at the way he has angled himself so that we can see those sergeant major stripes. he's displaying them quite probably, quite confidently. thisok to here, at photograph of sergeant henry stewart. he had been one of the recruiters and had been responsible for getting a number of people to enlist in the 54th. look how tall and straight he stands and how his sword is standing up so straight next to him. he paid an extra fee to the wordographer to have his sowrd
6:16 pm
and his belt buckle and breastplate highlighted with gold as well as having his pants washed with blue, all to bring out, to highlight the importance of his uniform. alas, we know the fate of many of the soldiers. stewardeant henry survived the battle of fort wagner but he died of dysentery a little over a month later. and perhaps some of the most poignant photographs in the exhibition are of the young drummer boys. as well as the other musicians. some were as young as 13, 16 years old. alexander johnson was 16 years old. you were supposed to be 18 years old to enlist, but many of the
6:17 pm
drummer boys, many of the musicians in the civil war would fib about their age. apparently one of the things that they would often do is that they would write down the number 18 on a piece of paper, slip it into their shoe, and when asked how old they were, they would say, i'm 18. and i stand on my word. and so, of course, they were accepted. in many of the pictures of the drummer boys and other musicians, they look somewhat shy, candidate, hesitant, perhaps scared. this may well have been the very first time they were having their picture taken. we know from accounts that ed theder johnson weather battle of fort wagner extremely
6:18 pm
heroic lay. ically. andas standing next to shaw carried important messages. this care look on his face may have been his unfamiliarity -- look on his face may have been his unfamiliarity with his picture being taken and not his character. we have the officers and soldiers intermingled in our depiction. the 54th, although it was certainly segregated as i said, the officers were white. the enlisted men were african-american by the terms of the military regulations of the time. they were quite united in their feelings, in their stance on many issues. the 54th, when they enlisted, were promised the same pay as
6:19 pm
white soldiers at the time. and indeed we have a wonderful poster here in the exhibition of the postere circulated throughout the north. you see it says $13 a month. however, when it came time to pay the soldiers, they, the y renege on that offer. and they were only going to pay the african-american soldiers $10 a month, not the $13 a month they were offered. we have in the case here an extraordinary letter from corporal henry james gooding to president abraham lincoln complaining about that disparity in pay. and he says quite pointedly to
6:20 pm
president clinton, "are -- president lincoln," are we soldiers or are we laborers?" as so many others would argue in the years thereafter, arguing for equal pay for equal work. then he goes on to remind president lincoln that -- as oon north had opened its armies up to enlistment by african-americans, the south had tried to inhibit that by saying that any african-american soldiers who were caught would be killed all right. -- outright. summarily executed said, if you do that, you must read all of our soldiers equally, black-and-white. letter goes onto say, if you tell the cell that has to treat all soldiers black and white the same, then why
6:21 pm
aren't you paying all soldiers the same? wonderful, extraordinary letter. indeed, when the union army refused to pay the african-american soldiers the $13 a month they had promised, all of the 54th, both the officers and the soldiers, refused to accept any pay until they receives the amount they were due. it lasted 18 months before the problem was resolved. we have here along this wall two depictions of the battle of fort wagner. drawing that was made of the actual battle itself. battle. horrific for wagner was one of several forts regarding trolls and harvard.
6:22 pm
the-- guarding charleston harbor. to the south on may 28, 1863. initially, they did not do work oughtcolonel shaw th befitting of the importance of this regiment. in the middle of july, the opportunity came for the 54th to be involved in the charge on for wagner. indeed to lead the charge. even though for wagner was an almost impenetrable fort, kernel shaw one of the 54th to prove its mettle, to demonstrate they were fit any thes, as fit as union had to offer. so he volunteer the 54th to lead
6:23 pm
this charge. for wagner had been bombed by the union army mercilessly for days on end. and it did not crack. on july 18, it was bombed throughout the day. the 54th charge that evening. colonel shaw charge the top of the parapet. demonstrate, almost as soon as he got to the top of the parapet and yelled 54th," he was shot dead and fell right there. as he was mounting the eric parapet, standing next to him was a young african-american sergeant, sergeant william carney. and carney saw at that moment the flag bearers start to drop the flag. the flag was important at this
6:24 pm
time because the flag showed the rest of the regiment where to go. before walkie-talkies and electronic communication, you followed the flag. it,he flag bearer dropped you did not know where to go. carney saw that. even though he was wounded, he threw away his own gun and he picked it up, and he planted it on top of the parapet. that probably is what we are seeing here, a depiction of that event. it was something for which, an was widely which he ewa celebrated. plantedrgeant carney the flag, the order to retreat came and he carefully furled the
6:25 pm
flag and brought it back to the 54th headquarters and presented it to the officers of the 54th. when he did he uttered the words that became immortalized. mysaid, "boyd, s, i but did duty. she never touch the ground." those words got quoted in the northern press numerous times. they actually became a theuiting tool sueused by union army to get other african-americans to enlist in the army. you can see evidence of that here in this print which depicts inanner that was hung front of a recruiting station in philadelphia. woundedel shows a sergeant carney being tended to by another soldier with words above it saying, "boys, i but d
6:26 pm
id my duty. she never touch the ground." for his actions, sergeant carney was awarded the medal of honor, the first african american to ever receive the medal of honor. he was awarded that in december, 1863. however, because of an administrative oversight, he did not receive the medal of honor until 1900. indeed, it was not until an exposition in paris when the went-gaudens memorial that have at the national gallery was being exhibited and one of the wasnizers of that fair doing an exposition that was talking about african-americans in the united states that organizer asked carney if he could borrow the medal of honor. and carney said essentially,
6:27 pm
what medal of honor? i never received the medal of honor. that person helped to rectify the wrong. and carney in 1900 was finally sent his medal of honor. all those many years after the actions which -- for which he was awarded it. a did not, even though, have ceremony at that time giving him this medal of honor. it was sent to him through the mail. his great great grand nephew the medalwho leant us of honor for this exhibition suggests that because carney was a mail carrier in new bedford, massachusetts, that perhaps carney was not insulted at
6:28 pm
having the metal sent through that this was one more indication of the importance of the u.s. mail. i think that probably is a generous interpretation, as generous as sergeant carney's letter to the u.s. war department telling them how honored he was to receive this medal in 1900. i think a wonderful fitting end to this story is the photograph that sergeant carney had made of himself right after he received the medal of honor. you can see he is dressed himself up in a suit, marched himself down to a photographer's studio, and had this wonderful picture taken of himself with the medal of honor pinned to his chest. i think it's no coincidence that he had this photograph taken at
6:29 pm
a studio that was run by james e. reid. mr. reid was one of the very few african americans to own and operate his own photography studio in massachusetts at this time. time, may know, at the the military did not have any regularized way of informing families about the fate of their loved ones nin battle. and although there were andrters, covering the 54th immediately after the battle of four wegner, there were accounts in the press about the action and about the loss of life. shaw's family did not know officially for over two weeks that he had died. this letter here from an
6:30 pm
anonymous individual written to thenel shaw's family was first official account of his death that they received. how general gilmore, the general in charge of the action, had ordered the 54th to march into battle side by side with other white regiments. and the author of the letter notes in it, tell it with pride to the world. that is where the title of our exhibition comes from. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2014] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] a the shaw memorial is plaster cast of the bronze memorial at the edge of the boston common in massachusetts. you have been watching american artifacts on c-span 3's american history tv. >> next on american history tv, we

41 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on