'Glory' and the first black soldiers to fight in the Union Army are returning to theaters after 30 years

Entertainment

A scene from 'Glory'

(IMDB photo)

The story of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment will return to the big screen for two days only when Glory hits more than 600 theaters across the country on July 21 and 24.


The film's return comes 30 years after its Dec. 15, 1989 debut and 156 years after the Second Battle of Fort Wagner in South Carolina, when the 54th spearheaded an assault on the Confederate stronghold.

Directed by Edward Zwick, who won an Oscar for the film, Glory follows the story of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the first Union Army regiment to be comprised almost entirely of black soldiers.

For his role as Pvt. Trip, a former slave who volunteered for the 54th, Denzel Washington won his first Academy Award.

Washington was joined on screen by Morgan Freeman, Cary Elwes, Andre Braugher, Jihmi Kenned, and Matthew Broderick as Col. Robert Gould Shaw, the commanding officer of the regiment.

In Feb. 1863, the Governor of Massachusetts, John A. Andrew issued the Civil War's first call for black soldiers. Within two weeks, thousands came, many from out of state and some from as far as Canada. Roughly a quarter of the 54th's enlistees were from slave-owning states in the South and the Caribbean.

Three months later, the newly formed 54th, made up of 1,007 black soldiers and 37 white officers set off for the South (At the time only white soldiers were permitted to serve as officers).

Even as they marched off to war to end slavery in the states, the soldiers of the 54th faced dire shortages in equipment: Everything from decent weapons to uniforms, and boots, and they were paid $3 less than their white peers.

In protest, the regiment refused to accept pay until they were given the same wages as other soldiers — a demand that wasn't met until the Civil War was nearly over.

On July 18, 1863, the 54th prepared to storm Fort Wagner, which protected the Confederate-occupied Port of Charleston. As night fell, Shaw assembled 600 of his men on a narrow sand bar and told them: "I want you to prove yourselves ... The eyes of thousands will look on what you do tonight."

The ensuing battle ended in tragedy. As Shaw led his men over the wall they found that the Union had made a catastrophic error: They believed Fort Wagner had only a small contingent of Confederate troops; instead they found 1,700 Confederate soldiers. Outnumbered, the 54th lost 116 men, including Shaw who was shot in the chest and killed while breaching the fort, with a further 156 wounded or captured.

The first African American soldier to be recommended for the Medal of Honor served with the 54th and fought at Fort Wagner that day: Sgt. William Harvey Carney, who was later awarded the medal on May 23, 1900.

"When the color sergeant was shot down, this soldier grasped the flag, led the way to the parapet, and planted the colors thereon," according to Carney's award citation. "When the troops fell back he brought off the flag, under a fierce fire in which he was twice severely wounded."

The battle at Fort Wagner marks Glory's climactic end, and while Union forces were initially repelled, Confederate troops eventually abandoned the fort. And despite the outcome of that battle, the bravery of the 54th cemented a legacy that endures to this day, and serves as a reminder that courage knows no color.

Glory will play in select theaters on July 21 and 24 as part of a special showing by Fathom Events and TCM Big Screen Classics.

WATCH NEXT: Sgt. Maj. John Canley Medal of Honor

he amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) returns to homeport at Naval Base San Diego on February 25, 2015. (U.S. Navy/ Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Corwin Colbert)

SAN DIEGO, Calif. — A former U.S. Navy sailor was sentenced to 20 years in prison Monday for having sexual contact with a 14-year-old Oceanside girl in 2017, federal prosecutors in San Diego said in a statement.

Read More Show Less

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Known for acting on impulse, President Donald Trump has adopted an uncharacteristically go-slow approach to whether to hold Iran responsible for attacks on Saudi oil facilities, showing little enthusiasm for confrontation as he seeks re-election next year.

After state-owned Saudi Aramco's plants were struck on Saturday, Trump didn't wait long to fire off a tweet that the United States was "locked and loaded" to respond, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran.

But four days later, Trump has no timetable for action. Instead, he wants to wait and see the results of investigations into what happened and is sending Pompeo to consult counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates this week.

Read More Show Less

That sound you're hearing is Army senior leaders exhaling a sigh of relief, because the Army has surpassed its recruiting goal for the year.

After failing to meet recruiting goals in 2018, the Army put the pedal to the metal and "did some soul searching," said Acting Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, to ensure that they'd meet their 2019 goal. It must have paid off — the service announced on Tuesday that more than 68,000 recruits have signed on as active-duty soldiers, and more soldiers have stuck around than they expected.

Read More Show Less

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein transformed into the Cigarette Smoking Man from "The X-Files" on Tuesday when explaining why UFO enthusiasts should avoid storming the mythical Area 51 installation in Nevada.

"All joking aside, we're taking it very seriously," Goldfein told reporters during the Air Force Association's annual Air, Space, and Cyber Conference. "Our nation has secrets, and those secrets deserve to be protected. The people deserve to have our nation's secrets protected."

Read More Show Less
Paul Szoldra/Task & Purpose

SAN DIEGO — A San Diego-based Navy SEAL acquitted of murder in a closely watched war crimes trial this summer has filed a lawsuit against two of his former attorneys and a military legal defense nonprofit, according to a complaint filed in federal court in Texas on Friday.

Read More Show Less