A Solider’s Honor and “Glory”

2008UMWHistory329 Comments Off on A Solider’s Honor and “Glory”

After viewing Glory I pondered it historical meaning and context for quite some time.  Overall, I felt the film did a good job portraying the 54th Massachusetts regiment.  The film showed how they had difficulty acquiring their gear at first, but was given weapons and clothing.  Also, it did an excellent job showing just how fast the African Americans learned to march and acquire other military skills.  They did this by commenting on their progress and later, by other officers commenting to Colonel Shaw about how well his regiment marched and behaved.

I liked how the movie incorporated the letters Shaw wrote to his family back home, I thought that added a nice touch, especially since lettering writing was prevalent and it is part of the primary documents that show the history of the 54th.  It also served as a nice narration between scenes, events, etcetera.  Glory captured the struggles through which the 54th went through to gain recognition and dealing with racism during the war.  I remember in the readings that the men were pissed off that the Confederates did not treat Shaw to a proper officer burial and buried him in the trench.  Glory showed Shaw being thrown into the trench, but did not mention that his men went back and dug him out to give him the proper burial.

The movie overall serves as a guideline history for the 54th Massachusetts regiment and could be used as a secondary source, but only with the knowledge that not everything is correct.  Characters are made up and some events as well, but one has to remember it was made for a general audience appeal.  The film does explain at the end in text that Fort Wagner was never taken and the 54th lost over half its men in the attack, which is true.  The text also tells the audience, in much less words, that this is a moment in the war, a moment that stood out and gave recognition to African Americans as men, not as property.  This moment got Congress to recognize African Americans and authorize the raising of black troops throughout the Union.

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