Fort Wagner/Morris Island

Other Names: Second Assault, Morris Island

Location: City of Charleston

Campaign: Operations against Defenses of Charleston (1863)

Date(s): July 18-September 7, 1863

Principal Commanders: Maj. Gen. Quincy Gillmore [US]; Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard [CS]

Forces Engaged: 6,800 total (US 5,000; CS 1,800)

Estimated Casualties: 1,689 total (US 1,515; CS 174)

Description:After the July 11 assault on Fort Wagner failed, Gillmore reinforced his beachhead on Morris Island. At dusk July 18, Gillmore launched an attack spearheaded by the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, a black regiment. The unit’s colonel, Robert Gould Shaw, was killed. Members of the brigade scaled the parapet but after brutal hand-to-hand combat were driven out with heavy casualties. The Federals resorted to siege operations to reduce the fort. This was the fourth time in the war that black troops played a crucial combat role, proving to skeptics that they would fight bravely if only given the chance.

Result(s): Confederate victory

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