Tom Roza on ”The Swamp Angels: Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Regiment”
The 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers was an infantry regiment that saw extensive service in the Union Army during the Civil War. The regiment was one of the first official African American units in the United States during the Civil War. They were nicknamed the “Swamp Angels” because being a “colored” regiment, they were assigned duty in the swampy lowlands of South Carolina and Florida.
Robert Gould was a military officer in the Union Army during the Civil War. And as Colonel, he was the first commander of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. Shaw was born in Boston into a wealthy family of abolitionists parents and he was approached by his father to take command of a new All-Black Regiment. After some hesitation, he accepted the position. Shaw was deeply impressed with the dedication of the men under his command and he grew to respect them as fine soldiers.
While the movie Glory did an exceptional job of telling the story of Gould and the 54th Massachusetts, Tom’s presentation told a more complete story of the first Negro regiment and the man who led them.
Tom Roza has always loved history and has been a student of the American Civil War since 1960 when his parents gave him as a Christmas present the book entitled “The Golden Book of the Civil War” which was adapted for young readers (Tom was 12 years old at the time)from the book “The American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War”.
Tom has toured several battlefields (Gettysburg, Bull Run, Vicksburg, and others in Virginia) and focused his interest not so much on the battle tactics and resulting human suffering and carnage, but on the leaders – what was their upbringing, what events in their lives shaped their view on the military and war.
Tom’s previous presentations for the SBCWRT have been on John Buford and Winfield Scott Hancock. Tom’s presentations for 2014 will be on Robert Gould Shaw and Ambrose Powell (AP) Hill.