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.
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