Blue-Eyed Child of Fortune
The Civil War Letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw
Publication Year: 1992
Published by: University of Georgia Press
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"In the fall of 1856, two great American educations glanced across one another. Robert Gould Shaw was a freshman at Harvard, Henry Brooks Adams a junior. As there were only 382, students at the college, the two must have met, although there is no record that either made much of an impression on the other. The upperclassman, traveling far, went on to record the better..."
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"Robert Gould Shaw was merely a competent officer, but he was not an ordinary soldier. Coming from great wealth and advantage, Shaw stood among the high profile regiments of the war: Seventh New York National Guard, Second Massachusetts Infantry, and Fifty-fourth Massachusetts (Colored) Infantry. The Seventh distinguished itself by being the first regiment..."
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"In 1864, Sarah Shaw compiled the Civil War letters written by her son Robert, edited them, and had them published for members of the family and close friends. That volume, Letters: RGS, exists today only in the rare book rooms of a handful of libraries and in private collections. The most accessible..."
Abbreviations in Notes
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INTRODUCTION: A Biographical Essay
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"On the Boston Common, Robert Gould Shaw rides his horse in step with his regiment marching Southward forever with straight backs, forward eyes, and long strides. In Augustus Saint-Gaudens's greatest sculpture, Shaw, white, and his men, black—and all bronze—recall that eight and twentieth day of May in 1863 when one thousand men strode with swaying..."
CHAPTER ONE: "Goodbye the Drum Is Beating"
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"The election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 was more than Southern white leaders could tolerate. After years of acrimonious compromise over whether the nation would embrace slave or free labor in the expanding western lands, many, North and South, understood that the results of the late presidential election would intensify the momentous question of what to do..."
CHAPTER TWO: "The Road through the Woods"
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"The war had certainly not ended during the thirty-day enlistment period of the Seventh New York. Private Shaw decided that there was as much of a reason to stay in the army as there had been to come out in the first place. Commissioned a second lieutenant in the newly formed Second..."
CHAPTER THREE: "John Brown's Prison"
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"For many Americans of Shaw's era and for some later historians, the Civil War started not in Charleston Harbor on April 12,1861, but in the Virginia river town of Harper's Ferry on October 16,1859. At Harper's Ferry, an unremarkable place except for the U.S. Arsenal located there, John..."
CHAPTER FOUR: "A Regular Old Jog Trot Camp Life"
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"After the First Battle of Bull Run, Northern armies in the Eastern Theater put more effort into training and discipline than into searching out and fighting Southern armies. George B. McClellan worked hard to transform raw recruits into competent soldiers. Lieutenant Shaw admired..."
CHAPTER FIVE: "Ladies with Petticoats About"
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"Union armies had accomplished little by the end of 1861. At Ball's Bluff, Virginia, Confederate troops surprised and routed the Federals. Many of Shaw's friends, including future Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., suffered wounds, death, or capture. In Southern elections,..."
CHAPTER SIX: "What War Really Is"
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"As winter melted into spring in 1862., Federal troops made major advances. In the West, a nova exploded upon the scene in the form of Ulysses S. Grant's victories at Shiloh and Forts Donelson and Henry. In the East, McClellan launched his peninsular campaign against Richmond. Off..."
CHAPTER SEVEN: "A Lull before the Storm"
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"After a year of campaigning, Lieutenant Shaw had neither fired his pistol nor raised his sword against the enemy. Adept at drill, he still questioned his ability to fight and wanted a chance to test himself. He soon got his wish as Stonewall Jackson outmarched and outfought the three..."
CHAPTER EIGHT: "Metallic Coffins"
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"The 'storm' blew its fury across the land in a wave of blood still unsurpassed on North American soil. The rainbow that followed promised liberty to millions of slaves. On a furious Wednesday along Antietam Creek, Maryland, Lee's army met McClellan's. When the fighting ended,..."
CHAPTER NINE: "Even More than Mother"
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"In the aftermath of Antietam, McClellan failed to press Lee's weakened army. In fact, McClellan resisted moving the Army of the Potomac even after Lincoln visited camp and lived in a tent beside him. When he finally acted on October 2.6, it was too late. After midterm congressional..."
CHAPTER TEN: "I as a Nigger Colonel"
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"During the early months of 1863, with battlefield casualties rising, desertions increasing, and volunteering decreasing, Lincoln and Congress acted to secure men for the Union armies. On March 3, Congress passed the Enrollment Act, which authorized a draft of all men of ages twenty to..."
CHAPTER ELEVEN: "The Camp at Readville"
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"The war was moving in slow motion as armies on both sides readied themselves for the spring campaigns. During the war, springtime forsook its normal meaning as a time of rejoicing, new birth, and life to become a time of fear, sorrow, and dying. Meadows became battlefields; streams and..."
CHAPTER TWELVE: "So Fine a Set of Men"
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"The armies of the North had begun the spring offensives that might end the war. In the West, Ulysses S. Grant advanced upon Vicksburg, the strongest Confederate position on the Mississippi River. In Virginia, the Army of the Potomac under..."
CHAPTER THIRTEEN: "The Burning of Darien"
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"The gray line moved north, the blue line stayed put, and the black line went south. On June 3, Lee began his second invasion of the North, pulled along unknowingly by the magnet that became Gettysburg. At Brandy Station on June 6, twenty thousand horsemen under J. E. B. Stuart and Alfred Pleasanton charged and recharged each other for nearly twelve hours in the..."
CHAPTER FOURTEEN: "Montgomery the Kansas Man"
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"During his third month at war, Shaw, in Virginia, had visited the site of John Brown's 1859 raid on Harper's Ferry and his jail cell in Charlestown. Now in his third year of war, Shaw, in South Carolina, became enamored with James Montgomery, who had been Brown's most able lieutenant..."
CHAPTER FIFTEEN: "God Isn't Very Far Off"
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"The war sped on, but the beginning of the end had come. On successive July days, Lee lost at Gettysburg and Grant walked into Vicksburg. Shaw missed his old regiment, and news of the victory in Pennsylvania and the deaths of more of his friends caused him to regret that he was so far away. He was a bit consoled by his proximity to Charleston. He believed that..."
CHAPTER SIXTEEN: "Nothing but Praise"
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"On the early morning of July 16, the soldiers of the Fiftyfourth Massachusetts Infantry stood strong. They were on picket duty when a Confederate force screamed the Rebel yell and slammed into them. Forced to retreat, the regiment fought a delaying action that prevented the enemy from routing it and a white regiment, the Tenth Connecticut. The tough resistance..."
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Page Count: 480
Illustrations: 43 b&w photos, 1 map
Publication Year: 1992