Although the battle of fort wagner and the bravery of

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Black man in history to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1900. Although the battle of Fort Wagner and the bravery of Sgt. William H. Carney were uncompromising testimony to the capability and nobility of Black soldiers, the battle over equal pay for Black soldiers continued long after Col. Shaw died leading his men through the trenches of Morris Island. As a result of the Militia Act of July 17, 1862, Black men who were recently emancipated were eligible for military service, but only as common laborers. This act did not consider the possibility of Black men bearing arms, thus all Black soldiers who enlisted in the 54th Regiment were paid as laborers, not as soldiers. As they began the battle of Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863, Black soldiers in the fifty-fourth were receiving $10 per month, minus $3 for clothing, while White soldiers received $13 per month, plus a clothing allowance of $3. This meant that Black soldiers received $6 less than their White counterparts each month of service. This discrimination in pay led to anger and disappointment both by the soldiers themselves and by Gov. Andrew, who had promised the men equal treatment upon enlisting in the 54th Regiment. In February, 1863, Andrew attended a meeting in Washington with President Lincoln, Secretary of War Stanton, Secretary of the Treasury Chase, and Secretary of State Seward. Despite Andrew's pleas for equal pay for Black soldiers, President Lincoln refused to act, and the Governor returned to the Massachusetts legislature with a recommendation - that the its members pass an act to pay the difference of the fifty-fourth's deserved salary. Although this 3
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act was passed, Nov. 16, 1863, soldiers of the 54th Regiment refused to accept it, preferring to serve without pay until their enlistment expired rather than allow themselves to be paid by the state rather than the federal government. As a result, on Feb 2, 1864, Massachusetts Senator Wilson introduced a joint resolution to Congress that would equalize pay for Black soldiers. Four months later, on June 15, 1864, Congress ruled that, retroactively as of January 1, 1864, Black soldiers were to receive equal pay as White soldiers. This act also provided that, if a Black soldier had been free as of April 19, 1861, he would be paid the difference between what he received and the full pay allowed by law during the same period to White soldiers. As a result, in late Sept. 1864, members of the 54th Regiment were paid over $170,000 for 18 months of unsalaried service, which amounted to approximately $200 per volunteer. The men of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, their White officers, colonel, and allies, not only struck a blow for American freedom and unity, they also proved to the nation and the world the valor, bravery, and devotion of African American soldiers. In the sacrifice made by Col. Shaw and his soldiers, Americans witnessed, for the first time, the supremacy of equality over racism, discrimination, and ignorance. Upon his death at Fort Wagner, the body of Col.
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Christopher Reinemann
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