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Sergeant Henry F. Steward

Sergeant Henry F. Steward Hand-colored ambrotype
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[ This description is from the project: Staff Favorites ]

The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment was the first military unit consisting of Black soldiers raised in New England during the Civil War. When the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation on 1 January 1863 made it possible for free Black men to enlist as soldiers, Massachusetts was the first state in the North to form a regiment. Henry F. Steward of Michigan was one of many volunteers to flock to Massachusetts from across the North. Through repeated demonstrations of bravery and honor, the regiment squashed prejudicial doubts about the martial skills of Black men. 

“They were willing to fight for America, they were willing to die for America.”

MHS Operations Assistant Jen Smith on photographs of the 54th Regiment

When I first started working at MHS, I was part of what is now known as collections services. While doing microfilming/scanning I came across the 54th regiment and scanned them at one point. I've always been interested in the Civil War. Discovering African American contribution to the war has always interested me.

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