Gallant Rush Printed Artwork
“And if I should die, I want you to tell my kinfolk that I died facing the enemy ... I went down standing up!”
I’m working on this pencil drawing in tribute to the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Formed after the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation, these African American men were the first to enter combat on the side of the Grand Republic. At 7:45 pm July 18, 1863, the 54th led the assault on Battery Wagner the fort guarding the seaward approach to Charleston South Carolina. When the 54th Massachusetts reached about 150 yards from the fort, the defenders opened up with cannon and small arms, tearing through their ranks. There are a number of depictions of the 54th breaching the parapet where its commander Colonel Robert Gould Shaw was killed. But I didn’t want to draw that. I wanted to draw the initial Infantry charge across the ground in front of the fort. It must have been hell on earth.