July 18, 2020
William watched as the color guard started to fall from a Confederate bullet. Standing just feet away, in one quick move he dropped his own weapon while grabbing the American flag before it touched the ground. With more bullets screaming by and shells exploding all around, William continued up towards Fort Wagner’s wall. Upon reaching it, William planted the flag in the sand. However, he soon realized he was standing alone with that flag as his fallen countrymen covered the beach.
To his right, William spotted another Union force advancing towards the fort, drawing some of the enemy’s attention away. However, to his left, Confederate troops raced down the fort’s earthwork and toward him. Grabbing Old Glory, he wound it around the pole and headed for a ditch behind a protective wall, which had filled waist high with water since he crossed it on the way to the fort.
As he waded in the water, he realized his only safety was to return to the Federal line. Rising from behind the barrier, a bullet immediately struck William, but did not fell him. As he started his retreat, another shot pieced his body. Continuing on, a soldier from a New York unit spotted William and asked if he was wounded. As William responded in an affirmative, a third bullet grazed his arm. Coming to William’s assistance, the soldier offered to carry the colors for William, who adamantly rejected. He would only relinquish the flag to another soldier from his regiment.
A fourth bullet grazed William’s head before they made it to safety. He received the medical attention he needed before returning to his unit. As his fellow soldiers cheered, he proudly proclaimed, “Boys, the old flag never touched the ground!” As a result of his bravery and patriotism, William, a former slave, received the Medal of Honor from the United States military.
Born into slavery on February 29, 1840, at Norfolk, Virginia, William H. Carney obtained his freedom in the 1850’s yet the means of doing so are not completely clear. Some contend his father, William Carney Sr., escaped north through the Underground Railroad. (see ) After earning enough funds, Carney Sr. purchased his wife and son, who then joined him in the free North. Others believe Carney Jr. escaped with his father. Regardless, the family settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts, where William learned to read and write.
By age 15, the young boy had set his sights on becoming a minister, yet God had other plans for Carney. As part of Republican President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which freed slaves in the Confederate states on January 1, 1863, he also approved the enlistment of blacks in the Union Army and Navy. (see ) Following Carney’s heroic acts, he was interviewed by William Lloyd Garrison’s abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator. (see , , and ) Within the article, Carney informed the readers: “Previous to the formation of 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 serving my country and my oppressed brothers. The sequel in short — I enlisted for the war.”
The first black unit officially recognized in the Union Army was organized as the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the son of distinguished abolitionists, was commissioned to lead the unit in battle. Prominent black abolitionists, such as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Hiram Rhodes Revels, John S. Rock, and Sojourner Truth, among others both black and white, helped to recruit for this unit and others. (see , , , and )
Among the first to join the ranks of the 54th Regiment along with Carney were two of Frederick Douglass’ sons, Charles and Lewis. (see ) Charles quickly became a 1st Sergeant in the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry while Lewis received the rank of sergeant major in the 54th. Sojourner Truth’s grandson, James Caldwell, also joined the 54th. (see ) So many black men signed up to fight for freedom, the Massachusetts Surgeon General could choose the healthiest and strongest recruits, resulting in what he described as "a more robust, strong and healthy set of men were never mustered into the service of the United States." This is even more remarkable knowing Confederate President Jefferson Davis signed his own proclamation on December 23, 1862, calling for the death of any captured black soldier and their white leaders, or their enslavement if allowed to live. (see )
The unit earned nationwide notoriety during their second battle, which occurred on July 18, 1863, as they attempted to take Fort Wagner in Charleston, South Carolina, along with other Union regiments. The men attacked, taking a small section of the rampart for a short time, before being forced to retreat. Colonel Shaw fell alongside many of his men, including the color bearer, before Carney rescued the flag and carried it to safety. During the battle, 270 of the 600 54th Massachusetts soldiers were wounded, among them were Carney and Lewis Douglass, killed, or went missing. Despite the human loses as well as the battle, the unit's fierce and honorable fighting was recognized by people everywhere all the way up to Lincoln. Carney's bravery not only earned him a promotion to sergeant, he boosted moral of Union troops as he and the entire 54th proved without a doubt black units were as capable and proficient as white troops. It was a pivotal moment that shattered the racial barriers between white and black soldiers.
The fallen were buried in a mass grave from privates to Colonel Shaw. Believing they humiliated Shaw for eternity by entombing him with black men, Confederates where shocked when Shaw's family declared the commander would be honored to be placed to rest with the men he fought with. The formation of the 54th, their amazing performance during the Battle of Fort Wagner, and their momentous contributions towards equality were highlighted in the 1989 film Glory.
While the new recruits of the 54th were originally offered the equal pay of $13 a month as the white troops, upon arriving in South Carolina in July 1863, the Department of the South informed the unit they would received $10, with $3 of those funds being withheld for clothing, an expense white troops did not occur. Colonel Shaw and others immediately rejected this change. Massachusetts took action and promised to make up the difference. Resistance continued until Congress passed legislation on June 16, 1864, requiring equal and full pay for all troops deemed free men as of April 16, 1861. Colonel Edward Needles Hallowell, a Quaker, abolitionist, and new commander of the 54th, knew not all of his soldiers met that requirement. Therefore, he carefully worded an oath, known as “the Quaker Oath,” where every man could swear they were not bound to anyone prior to the set date. "You do solemnly swear that you owed no man unrequited labor on or before the 19th day of April 1861. So help you God.” Carney later commented on the pay controversy in a Boston Daily Globe interview, stating, “while the government refused to pay us equally, we continued to fight for the freedom of the enslaved, and for the restoration of our country.” In other words, instead of claiming victimhood, they fought hard and honorably to bring others to freedom and bring the country back together.
Due to his multiple injuries, which resulted in him carrying two bullets in his body for the rest of his life, Carney received an honorable discharge a year after saving the flag at the Battle of Fort Wagner. He returned to New Bedford where he married, had a daughter, and had a 30 year career as a letter carrier following a short time in California.
On May 31, 1897, surviving veterans of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment gathered to celebrate the dedication of a monument honoring Colonel Shaw, Carney, and all the soldiers of the 54th. On that very spot almost exactly 34 years earlier to the day, the citizens of Boston cheered the men of the 54th as they left for battle on May 28, 1863. Carney received the honor of carrying the flag in the dedication ceremony as Bostonians once again turned out to applaud the unit.
Three years later, the United States recognized Carney’s war actions by presenting him with the Medal of Honor on May 23, 1900. While other Civil War African-American soldiers had already been presented with the prestigious award, history has dubbed Carney as the first black recipient to receive the commendation as Carney’s actions transpired the earliest. Whenever asked about his actions, he humbly responded, “I only did my duty.” What we see as extraordinary, he deemed the right and natural thing to do. Other honors Carney received include an elementary school named after him as well as being included in “Strong Men and Women in Virginia History.”
Liberty, the country and the world right now are in chaos. Rioters continue to ravage and vandalize larger cities while the activists, mayors, and city councils look to defund the police. The extremists claim they are tearing down systematic racism, but it is all a lie. The leaders of ANTIFA and Black Lives Matter (BLM) are self-avowed Marxists. (see ) The BLM website admits their goal is to destroy the nuclear family, capitalism, and the Western culture. It is evident they really don’t want racial justice as they desecrate and destroy monuments that honor historic African-Americans, including Frederick Douglass, other abolitionists, as well as the one commemorating the 54th and Carney. As riots broke out across the country on May 31, 2020, exactly 123 years after its dedication, rioters defaced the very monument honoring the acclaimed black unit. Using profanity and anti-police graffiti, rioters vandalized monuments and statues memorializing the very people they claim to be defending and fighting for.
The complete discounting of the rise in murders of black citizens in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other large cities by BLM activists, Democrat leaders, and the media reveals that black lives really don't matter to them. It's all agenda driven and propaganda, designed to manipulate 'useful idiots' into creating chaos, as they did in both in Russia and Germany, to force dictatorships on the people. (see and )
Even while still experiencing their own episodes of discrimination, the soldiers of the 54th did not set out to destroy the country and the people oppressing them. Instead, they vowed to truly achieve freedom for those still enslaved, save their country, and move forward. For decades, blacks celebrated Carney for risking his life to save Old Glory, earning him the Medal of Honor. Today, activists praise Colin Kaepernick for disrespecting that very flag as they encourage more and more people to do the same, even burning the symbol of our nation. (see and ) Today’s activists are actually tearing down and destroying everything Carney, the 54th, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, and all the other peaceful civil rights leaders fought for and worked so hard to achieve. (see , , , and )
While we pray nightly on our knees to Almighty God for peace, Liberty, we are living in the times I have been writing to you about for years. We must continue to move forward, doing our duty of what God wants us to do, remembering He is always in control. This is not a political battle or a racial battle. This is by far a spiritual battle and it is God's fight. All we can do is our duty, which is to pray, live our lives as Christians, spread the Gospel, and pray even more. We don't know what the future will bring, but find comfort that God will use all of this for His good. May He have mercy on us, forgive us for straying from Him, and heal our nation. Amen.
That’s my 2 cents.
DOING OUR DUTY