Stearns to superintend the raising of black troops

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George L. Stearns to superintend the raising of Black troops throughout the northern states. Abolitionists across the north contributed over $5000 to Stearns' committee to pay for advertising and publicity, while Stearns solicited the help of Black community leaders across the country. These leaders, all of whom served as recruiting agents for the Union army, included:
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Frederick Douglass , Lewis Hayden , John Coburn, Charles Lenox Remond, and William Wells Brown, among others. As a result, over 1000 volunteers enlisted in the 54th Regiment, a response so overwhelming that Massachusetts organized a second Black regiment, the fifty-fifth. Men of the fifty-fourth represented twenty-four states, the District of Columbia, the West Indies, and Africa. Approximately 25% of them had been slaves, over 50% were literate, and, although as civilians they had worked in forty-six different occupations, the overwhelming majority (55%) were common laborers. Regardless of origin, occupation, or social class, the men of the 54th Regiment both inspired Boston's Black community and provided a symbol of pride for abolitionists across the country. Activists such as William Lloyd Garrison , Frederick Douglass , Wendell Phillips , and Leonard Grimes visited Camp Meigs to show their support. On May 18, 1863, Secretary of War Stanton notified Governor Andrew that the 54th Regiment was to report to Hilton Head, SC under General David Hunter in the Department of the South. On May 28, before departing aboard the De Molay from Boston harbor, the men of the 54th Regiment and their officers passed in review before the Massachusetts State House amidst the flag-waving enthusiasm of over 3000 citizens, including Black sculptor Edmonia Lewis, Frederick Douglass, Governor Andrew, and Shaw's parents. Although the organization of the 54th Regiment resolved the conflict over Black enlistment in the Union army, the struggle of Black soldiers to gain respect in the military was just beginning. Upon arrival in the south, the Black soldiers were often treated as common laborers and the potential for their valor on the battlefield was disregarded. Upon arriving in Georgia on June 11, they were ordered by Col. James Montgomery of the Department of the South to raid the town of Darien. Reports of Black soldiers burning buildings and ravaging the homes of townspeople confirmed stereotypes of Black soldiers as un-trainable brutes. Col. Shaw found the raid on Darien barbarous and distasteful, and sent a letter to Brigadier General George C. Strong, requesting that the men be used in the planned attack on Fort Wagner, South Carolina. On July 16, the 54th Regiment fought alongside White soldiers of the 10th Connecticut Infantry in a skirmish on James Island, SC. This battle redeemed the Black soldiers' fighting ability in the eyes of White skeptics, including General Strong, who commanded the 54th Regiment to lead the assault on Fort Wagner, scheduled for July 18. Strategically, a successful attack on Fort Wagner would allow Union forces to seize control of Charleston Harbor. Located on Morris Island, Fort Wagner protected Battery Gregg overlooking Fort Sumter. Thus, seizure
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