His story has been told in this space in the past. A site search will also show that after the Civil War, and whilst still in naval service Sam would go on to play a pivotal role in the saving of his officer's life when mortally wounded in Korea. Sadly the officer, after rescue and returning to his vessel, succumbed to the horrendous wounds received in battle. He and several others would be awarded the Medal of Honor for their bravery under very heavy fire to save his officer.
I repeated reference to Sam, since he and so many other Canadians fought with their American brothers (and sisters) in arms to help suppress the trade of Black Ivory. So too, the story appears because it is not readily recognized on the net or in most lists of MOH recipients that Sam was NOT an American, but a British North American and, as noted, born in what is now the province of Quebec.
But these posters are serious reminders of the past. They warned the coloured folks to be fearful of the very agency that ought to have been on the lookout to aid rather than capture.
This Boston Poster from the 1840's to early 1860's warns to be on the lookout for police and others who themselves were on the lookout for escapes slaves. And as often noted many a coloured who was NOT escaped... but a free man that was about to become a slave once scooped.
The Boston Vigilance Committee, who created this poster, would also be on the lookout for the escaped slave, or those arriving on the shores as a stowaway etc. They would provide whatever assistance they could, be it legal, shelter, food, a place to sleep and contacts in the underground railway to assist in the journey to the North and into Canada etc.
In December of 1860 the US had numerous forts around the harbour. But when S. Carolina suceeded from the Union Major Anderson, representing the Union and commanding troops on Fort Moultrie was in a pickle. Having been tasked to control the entry and exit of the harbour, Anderson decided his best defence was not at Moultrie, shown above, and he needed to move to another spot that could better meet his needs. So he moved his few troops available onto Fort Sumter, both shown above.
For several months the Southerners, now in possession of Moultrie and several other local forts, made attempts to secure Anderson's surrender.
After all Confederate attempts to force a surender failed, some 3000 cannon balls and shells were dropped onto Sumter. The Northerners did not loose a single man in the shelling, but due to lack of supplies Anderson eventual had to surrender.
Anderson's crew requested, and received permission from the South to fire off one last shot. A salute to the fort's flag as it was lowered. While firing it off, an explosion at the gun killed one of his men... the sole loss at the fort.
Anderson and crew were allowed to leave and returned to Union lines. One of the men hid the fort's flag under his clothing, and when Fort Sumter was captured back by the Union Navy years later, they would once again hoist that very flag.
The 2nd image above is the wonderful fort as it stands today. No doubt a major tourist attraction for the Charlston Harbour area, the state and nation.
The above recruitment posters tell of signing up bonuses of $100 and $13 for monthly wages. But the regimental command could not have possibly known that it woult take a full 18 months before these soldiers signing up would get their full monthly pays. In the mean time they were being deducted $3 for clothing every month, and about half way through their service they were finally offered their FIRST payment... and that being only half what their white brothers would get. So they refused all payments till they were treated as equal to their brothers. They suceeded but not till June of 1864.
The 1989 movie called GLORY tells the story of the 54th and I highly recomend you go to a library to get a copy and watch it. It tells of the incredible discrimination, not only in pay days, but in many other areas of their lives, Though not so by their own officers.
If you look at the above map, you will see a place called Fort Wagner at the bottom centre, and directly beow Fort Sumter. It would be here that some of the focus of the Movie GLORY brings the viewer. (Though the entire movie seems to fail to mention the word Canada once, at least 39 coloured men from Canada served in the regiment.
The 54th actions at Fort Wagner would once again show to the world the value of the Black soldier as equal to that of the white man. The movie would bring back to life the historic contributions the regiment made and once again made the regiment famous. Perhaps it's time to be brought back to the screen to remind all that we are ell equal in all ways.
After a 3 hr, early evening of crossing many obstacles and herculian attempts to mount 30 foot walls to gain entry to the fort, one in 3 would become a casualty. Over 800 from several regiments would soon lie in mass graves. The 54th colonel would be one of these , and said to have been wounded 7 times. He'd lost 2 of his Captains, 24 Privates, 15 captured and 52 missing in action and never again seen alive.
Now with a surname William managed to be accepted for military service. That service was with the 54th and at Fort Wagner he would be wounded at least twice in the legs, once in the chest and slightly to the face. When this soldier saw the colour bearer start to fall he raced to him and grabbed the flag and carried it throughout the battle and mounted it near the wall of the enemy fort before collapsing and be taken off the field...with the flag. For this he was promoted to Sergeant, the highest rank for a black soldier in the unit, and awarded the Medal of Honor, becoming the first black man, by date of action, to be so awarded the medal in the Civil War and in fact the medal's history.
Still more to come on Sunday next including the murder mentioned in the above title. I had hoped to cover it today, but the blog is yet again too long.