New Bedford in Bristol County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)
Heroes of Fort Wagner
— New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park —
During the Civil War many of the black men who enlisted at a recruiting office near this spot were mustered into Company C of the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Among these recruits was New Bedford’s Sergeant William H. Carney.
Previous to the formation of the colored troops, I had a strong inclination to prepare myself for the ministry; but when the country called for all persons, I could best serve my God by serving my country and my oppressed brothers.
Sergeant William H. Carney,
October 13, 1863
The 54th became famous for their role in the brave but doomed attack on Fort Wagner near Charleston, South Carolina, in 1863. When the regiment's standard-bearer fell, Carney took up the American flag and carried it under fire to the Confederate parapet. Although wounded several times, he returned the colors safely, handing them over with the words, “The old flag never touched the ground, boys.”
Company C also included Corporal James Henry Gooding, a former whaleman from New Bedford. His dispatches to the New Bedford Mercury gave local people news of the 54th
(upper right) At Fort Wagner, South Carolina, Carney had been wounded twice but advanced to the fort's parapet and planted the regiment's flag there. When the 54th retreated, Carney — "creeping on one knee," a witness said — carried the flag back to one of his regiment's officers.
Seargent William H. Carney with the Regiment's American flag
(lower right) Storming Fort Wagner, Lithograph by Kurtz and Allison, Courtesy Cruz Collection New Bedford Historical Society
Erected by National Park Service.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African Americans • War, US Civil.
Location. 41° 38.126′ N, 70° 55.483′ W. Marker is in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in Bristol County. Marker is at the intersection of William Street and Acushnet Avenue, on the right when traveling east on William Street. This marker is located next to the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry plaza. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: New Bedford MA 02740, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Civil War’s First Black Regiment (here, next to this marker); U.S. Custom House-Customary Duty (within shouting distance of this marker); Signs of the Time (within shouting distance of this marker); The Andrew Robeson House (within shouting distance of this marker); Bourne Warehouse (within shouting distance of this marker); New Bedford Historic District (within shouting distance of this marker); Abijah Hathaway House (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Mariner's Home (about 300 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in New Bedford.
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order shown.
Also see . . .
1. 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. (Submitted on September 8, 2014, by Byron Hooks of Sandy Springs, Georgia.)
2. Battle of Fort Wagner. (Submitted on September 8, 2014, by Byron Hooks of Sandy Springs, Georgia.)
3. Fort Wagner and the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. (Submitted on September 8, 2014, by Byron Hooks of Sandy Springs, Georgia.)
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on September 8, 2014, by Byron Hooks of Sandy Springs, Georgia. This page has been viewed 523 times since then and 32 times this year. Last updated on June 3, 2015, by Byron Hooks of Sandy Springs, Georgia. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 8, 2014, by Byron Hooks of Sandy Springs, Georgia. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.