Majority of the time, watching a movie about what one is learning about in History class is not the most reliable source for information. The movie Glory follows the first African American unit in the civil war. This unit is known as the 54th regiment. The movie follows the 54th Regiment as they navigate through all of the hardships of being a group of African American soldiers in the civil war. Lead by Colonel Shaw, the unit becomes a family and would do anything for each other. They work together and fight to defend themselves and the future of the country. Through it all, they never lose hope.
The 54th Regiment is one of the first examples society sees of African Americans sticking up for themselves and their equal rights. Up until the Civil War, African Americans did not begin to have equal rights. When the Civil War first began, most people and leaders of the North had been more concerned with stopping the extension of slavery in the new Western States. However, Northern States soon stopped tolerating slavery in the Southern States. The Emancipation Proclamation soon changed from a thought and impossible dream to an obtainable idea (Emancipation Proclamation UNITED STATES). Enacting the Emancipation Proclamation would benefit the Union in the war. It would decrease the Confederate’s people and increase the Union’s soldiers. These soldiers also had a stronger motivation than the White soldiers because they were fighting for themselves, their families and their future. Quoted in Emancipation Proclamation, in the Gettysburg address Lincoln states that the war became a war for “a new birth of freedom”.
Over 1,000 newly free men signed up for the 54th Regiment in Massachusetts. Robert Gould Shaw, son of two “wealthy and prominent abolitionist activists” (The 54th Massachusetts Infantry) was chosen to lead the Regiment. Along with fighting to completely end slavery in the Confederate states but also for Justice. The U.S army paid White soldiers three dollars more than Black soldiers. Two hundred eighty-one of the six hundred soldiers were killed in a battle including Shaw. The 54th Regiment was the beginning of Racial Equality in America. There are many parts of the movie Glory that are portrayed inaccurately. The film overlooks the existence of other African American Units that existed before the 54th Regiment. The movie says that they were the first, but in reality, they were just the first widely publicized Unit. (What the Film Glory Got Right About the American Civil War and What It Did Not). The recruitment of Colonel Shaw is portrayed differently than it really occurred. In the movie, he receives a letter and instantly agrees. In real life, he was with his regiment when his father first delivered the letter. At first, he was hesitant about leading the regiment. In the movie, most of the soldiers were freed from the Emancipation Proclamation. However, in reality most of them had been free their entire lives and one third were newly freed slaves. “Some of them came from prominent families” (What the Film Glory Got Right About the American Civil War and What It Did Not). Like most movies, many symbolic scenes were added to give the story more depth, these scenes do not contradict the truth, they just give the truth more meaning. One example of this is when Shaw was attacking watermelons during the training. This symbolizes the hard work of preparing for war. Some of the details of the movie are not historically accurate however most of them are.
The overall portrayal of the 54th regiment is historically accurate. The movie depicts the 54th Regiment as a bold experiment which is true to history. It was the first well-known unit consisting of African American men lead by a white man. They were also very widely publicized. The responses to the Regiment were also mixed as the movie shows. As a whole, the movie correctly depicts the character of Robert Gould Shaw. He is a privileged son of two abolitionists. His “commitment to the unit and abolition were real, as was his hard work in shaping the regiment and his death alongside them” (What the Film Glory Got Right About the American Civil War and What It Did Not). In the movie and in real life, the African American soldiers were paid three dollars less than the White soldier (“Glory” Historically Accurate, Worthy Of Watching). Despite a large amount of historically accurate details, the movie does not provide a reliable source of information about the Civil war and the 54th Regiment. Many historical fiction movies will give a storyline that does not contradict any pieces of history at all and will add in scenes that could have happened in order to make the movie more interesting.
The movie Glory does add in some of these scenes however it also changes some of the facts of history and therefore it makes the movie inaccurate and an unreliable source. The story about the 54th Regiment and the Civil war has had a large impact on America every year since it occurred. The Emancipation Proclamation introduced the idea of racial equality however it was not until 1964 that true equality was established. When the Union won the Civil war it decided that there would no longer be slaves in any of the United States of America and that Racial equality was important to the country. The Civil War along with the 54th Regiment is one of the first examples of Racial Equality that we see in the history of America.