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One, two, one!
''Dear Mother.|I hope you are keeping well...
and not worrying too much about me.
You mustn't think that any of us|are going to be killed...
for they are collecting|such a force here...
that an attack would be insane.
The Massachusetts men|passed through here this morning.
How grand it is to meet the men|from all the states, east and west...
ready to fight for their country...
as the old fellows did|in the Revolution.
But this time we must make it|a whole country...
for all who live here,|so that all can speak.
Before this war began...
many of my regiment|had never seen a Negro.
Now the roads are choked|with the dispossessed.
We fight for men and women...
whose poetry is not yet written,|but which will presently...
be as enviable|and as renowned as any.
Last night we heard|of yet another defeat.
But we are not disheartened.
I am honored to be part|of such a splendid company.
They have made me captain,|of which l am enormously proud.
You would think it strange to see me|giving orders to a hundred men...
most of whom are older than I am.
Thank you for sending|my volume of Emerson.
His words come home to me|like truth--
'A deep man, ' he says, 'believes|that the evil eye can wither...
that the heart's blessing|can heal...
and that love|can overcome all odds. '
My dearest love to Father.
Your son, Robert. "
- Charge!|- Fire!
- Forward!|- Fire!
Forward, men !
For God's sake, come on !
Robert, come on!|We must tall back!
You all right there, Captain?
Please! Not my leg!
- Where's the chloroform?|- Stop!
- No!|- Hold on!
So it's your neck?
The surgeons are busy,|but l'll fix you up.
- Let me know if l hurt you.|- Stop!
Ah, this is nothing.
- Heard the latest?|- What's that?
l heard it from a triend|who's a dispatch rider...
who got it trom one ot Stanton's clerks|in the War Ottice.
He says Lincoln is gonna issue|an emancipation proclamation.
Gonna free the slaves.
- What?|- Maybe not in the border states...
but he will free some, anyway.
He said he would have done it sooner,|only he was waiting tor a big victory...
which is, I guess, what this is.
Oh, my God!
Please don't cut anymore, please!
This might hurt you, Captain.|l'm sorry.
- Robert.|- Thomas.
Captain Shaw.|l was so proud when l heard.
They had no choice.|All the other otticers are dead.
- And Forbes?|- lmpossible, as always.
He's here somewhere.
How about you?
Working tor your tather,|helping him with the resettlement...
tor the Freedmen's Relief Association.
There's a shortage of housing.|Robert! Are you all right?
Yes. l'm sorry.
Darling, there's someone|who wishes to meet you.
General Hunter rounded up|a bunch ot slaves...
called them contraband|and put them in camps like cattle.
The War Department decided|to issue them pikes rather than guns.
Ot course they deserted.|So would l.
Robert. Governor,|you know my son Robert.
- Good to see you again.|- Governor Andrew.
Robert, have you met|Frederick Douglass?
l understand you were at Antietam.
A great and a terrible day.
l could use your help.
The governor is proposing to raise|a regiment ot Negro soldiers.
No. lt was not just my idea.|Mr. Douglass--
We will offer pride and dignity...
to those who have known|only degradation.
- Colored soldiers. Just think of it.|- Wonderful.
l've submitted your name|to be commissioned colonel...
of the 54th Massachusetts lntantry.
Thank you, Governor.|That's--
lt's a wondertul idea.
Well done, Shaw.
- Splendid job, young man.|- Bravo, Robert.
What's the matter?|Too much punch?
l know how much you'd like to|make colonel, but a colored regiment?
You know how popular that would be?
Handing out guns|to a thousand coloreds?
l'm gonna do it.
You're not serious.
- I want you to come with me.|- Me?
Can you picture me|in charge ot a regiment?
Picture me in charge ot anything.
l would be honored to have you.
Then you're an idiot.
Rob, is it true?|There's to be a colored regiment?
So it seems.
Then l am your first volunteer.
How do we look, Colonel?|We gonna whup the Secess'?
When do we get the blue suit?
Yeah, the blue suit.
Ready to whip them Rebs.
When are we gonna get to fight?
Are we really gonna get to tight|this time?
Good morning, gentlemen.
I am Colonel Robert Gould Shaw.
l am your commanding otticer.
lt is a great pleasure|to see you all here today.
lt is my hope that the same courage...
spirit and honor...
which has brought us together...
will one day restore this Union.
May God bless us all!
We will commence|with forming companies.
Company otficers, take charge.
You recruits will report|to your respective otticers...
by the letter of your company|in aIphabetical order...
which is in the top lett-hand corner|of your muster sheet.
- Good book, brother?|- Yes, it is, actually.
Name's SearIes. Thomas Searles.
Jupiter Sharts, sir.|What it about, that book?
lt's a collection ot essays--|Fourier, Emerson...
all the transcendentalists.
It got pictures?
- Teach me?|- Yes, l'd be happy to.
Look at what's walking in here!
l'd rather have a hog|than a nigger.
- At least you could eat the hog!|- Getting dark mighty earIy around here.
Show us a little dance,|nigger boys!
Sergeant of the Guard,|post your sentry.
Wait, no. That's my space, nigger.
l sleep better close by the door.
l preter a space|with more reading light.
Oh, l like it when niggers|talk good as white folk.
l'd be happy to teach you.
lt would be my pleasure.
Look, snowtlake, l ain't got nothing|to learn trom no house nigger.
l am a tree man,|as was my tather.
Good. Move your free black ass|before l bust it up.
- Hey, hold up, buck.|- Nobody said nothing to you, pap.
lt's all right.
l'll be fine over here.
- Mm-hmm.|- Excuse me.
Wonder when they gonna|give us the blue suit.
Ain't no blue suit tor the black|soldiers. Blue suits for the whites.
Well, we soldiers now.
Where you from, field hand?
You ought to know better, boy.
Hey, would you quit that?|Say, boy, quit that drumming.
What's your name?
l said what's your name, boy?
- Can't you see that he's mute?|- He what?
You mean this child can't talk?
Hey, come over here, hon.
Dummies and tield hands.|Ain't that a bitch?
What about you, buck?|Whereabouts you from?
l'm trom around Tennessee.
Ran away when l was 12 years old,|and l ain't never look back.
What you doing since then?
l run for president.
l didn't win though.
Major? Forbes.|That's you.
- Thomas.|- Hello.
- How are you?|- You know Charlie Morse.
- Thomas Searles.|- Captain.
So how was your meal?
The remoulade was a trifle tart...
but the souftle tor dessert|more than made up for it.
And your comrades?
Charming. Extraordinary|conversationalists, every one.
- A word, please.|- Oh, excuse me, Thomas.
l won't permit|that kind ot fraternization.
- lt's only Thomas.|- He's an enlisted man.
You're right, ot course.
I've sent tor help.
These men need a proper teacher.
For God's sake, you march like|a bunch ot crippled old goats!
We're gonna be here day and night|till we get this right!
One, one. Company, halt.
You are ugly Mexican-Atrican|tucking whores!
We're gonna work on this|day and night, gentlemen!
Forward at the haIt step. March !
One! You halt-wit black bastard.
ls it true they cut your balls off|at birth?
l'll work on you|till l get you broken.
Do you not know your right|from your lett?
How many here do not know|right trom left?
Jesus, have pity.
This is your tront!
This is your rear!|This is your right! And this--
Now you're learning, boy-o.
Company, torward march !
- Two!|- One! Two!
You bloody Hindus, get it right!
Stop. Start it again.|ln each rank! Count!
Lett. Left, right, lett!
Right, torward, march!
Lett. Get your goddamn hand|out ot your pocket!
Bonny Prince Charlie!|Are you a gentleman?
Are you a member ot congress|or something?
Or are you the bloody|prince ot Africa?
Don't look at me!|Look straight ahead!
l'll heat your ass up, boy-o!
The lrish are not noted|tor their tondness tor the coloreds.
What about the uniforms?
Still no word.
See to it.
You're a big buck, aren't you?|You've got a lot to learn !
You haven't had a master like me!
''Dear Mother.|The men learn very quickly.
Faster than white troops,|it seems to me.
They are almost grave|and sedate under instruction...
and they restrain themselves.
But the moment they are dismissed|from drill...
every tongue is relaxed|and every ivory tooth is visible...
and you would not know from the sound|of it that this is an army camp.
They must have learned this from long|hours of meaningless, inhuman work...
to set their minds free so quickly.
It gives them great energy.
There is no doubt|that we will leave this state...
as fine a regiment|as any that has marched.
As ever, your son, Robert. "
They've done it.
Assemble the men.
ln accordance with|President Lincoln's wishes...
you men are advised...
that the Confederate Congress|has issued a proclamation.
''Any Negro taken in arms...
against the Confederacy...
will immediately be returned|to a state ot slavery.
Any Negro taken in Federal unitorm...
will be summarily put to death.
Any white otticer taken|in command ot Negro troops...
shall be deemed as inciting|servile insurrection...
and shall likewise be put to death.''
Full discharges will be granted|in the morning...
to all those who apply.
lt you're not here in the morning...
Still want that blue suit, nigger?
- Good morning, Major.|- Sir! Formed and ready, sir.
How many are lett?
You're not dismissed, boy-o!|Get up!
You'll tall out when l say|and not betore. Understand? Get up!
- Sir!|- At ease, Sergeant.
l have no doubt|that you are a fair man, Mulcahy.
l wonder if you are|treating these men too hard.
- You may speak treely.|- The boy's your friend, is he?
We grew up together, yes.
Let him grow up some more.
- l see.|- Will that be all, sir?
.57 caliber Entield ritle musket.|Best in the world here, boy.
One, one, nine, one, one.
Can you handle that?
l can knock something down|with this.
One, two, one, nine, two.
- Beautitul.|- Hawkins.
One, two, one, eight, six.
- Jefterson.|- Yes, sir!
Finally.|There's a rumor going around...
that we're to be used|only for manual labor.
l can't believe the things we hear.
lt's not true, is it? I mean,|about not being allowed to tight.
The men are living tor that day.
l know l am.
- Fletch.|- Don't bother about him.
- He's just ignorant.|- Excuse me.
For God's sake, come on!
- Good shot!|- Do that again !
Give him your weapon.|Do that again.
- One dime he can't do it.|- Dime on each ot you !
That's a bet!|Go on, boy.
Go ahead, Sharts.
- That's a dime on each ot you !|- Double or nothing!
As you were.
Front and center.
You are a good shot, Private.
Thank you, sir.|Squirrel hunting.
- You ever killed a man?|- No, sir.
- But you're handy with a gun.|- Yes, sir.
Discharge your weapon.
Discharge your weapon.
Now, do it again. Only this time,|l want it done quickly.
A good man can fire three aimed shots|in a minute.
Major Forbes, give me|your Colt revolver.
- What?|- Your gun.
Give it to me.
Do it! Do it!
Teach them properly, Major.
Good morning, Major.|You're up early.
l want to talk to you.
lf you wouldn't mind|getting down trom your horse.
- Better?|- Why do you treat the men this way?
How should l treat them?
And what about Thomas?|Why are you so hard on him?
He's not a very good soldier.|l'm getting these men ready tor battle.
Robert, they're already as good|as the Seventh ever was.
They march well.|They're disciplined.
- No thanks to you.|- l beg your pardon?
You heard me.
Who do you think you are,|acting the high-up colonel?
You seem to torget l know you|and so does Thomas.
lf you don't believe in|what we're doing here...
maybe you shouldn't be part ot it.
Part of what?
Lett, right! Little tinger|along the seams ot your trousers?
Marching is probably all|they'll ever get to do, Robert.
lt is my job...
to get these men ready.
And l will.
They have risked their lives to be here.|They have given up their freedom.
l owe them as much as they have given.|l owe them my freedom...
my lite, if necessary.
Maybe so do you, Cabot.
l think you do.
Develop! En garde.
You're not at dancing school !|Take his head otf!
Jesus, Mary and Joseph.|What have we here?
Bonny Prince Charlie|and his toy bayonet.
You're not reading now.|Go on. Get over!
- Now stab me.|- What?
Come on. Stab! Not tickle.|Hit me!
Come on ! You prissy schoolgirl !
You're the worst soldier|in this company! Hit me!
No shame, son. Get up.
- l said get up!|- Nigger forgot to duck. That's all.
Sergeant, deal with that man.
l'll tell you a wee secret, son.|Learn to keep your mouth shut.
Save it, son.|Save it.
Carry on, Sergeant Mulcahy.
l'd like to speak to you|for a moment in private, it l may.
Enlisted men wishing to speak|to their commanding officer...
must first get permission.
You understand, Private?
En garde! Thrust! Develop! Recover!
You better put some oomph|into that, boy-o!
Oh, my, my, my.
Some things never change.
l guess the whole world|hate the nigger.
Boy, if you don't quit|that drumming in here--
Honey, why don't you take your drum|on outside and practice?
That Colonel Shaw, he a hard man.
He a swell.|Just a nigger-beating swell.
But he in the same boat|with us.
Secess' come, take him, kill him too.
Huh. Not him.
He a swell.
He just a boy.
He a weak white boy.
Beating on a nigger|make him feel strong.
Ain't that right, snowflake?
You know, he ain't never been|to no West Point.
Onliest reason he in charge|is 'cause his mommy and daddy tixed it.
Ain't that so?
You thought he was difterent,|didn't you?
What you think now?
You just thought you was so smart,|didn't you?
You in the real school now, though,|ain't you?
What you gonna do? Cry?
Yeah. He sure enough learning now,|ain't he?
Forward, march !|Right face.
Man say there's a tarm|ain't but two or three miles trom here.
Said the lady over there|give him biscuits and gravy.
She said, it he bring his triends,|she feed them too.
- Don't even think about it.|- What you say, buck?
Biscuits and gravy sound good to me.|Maybe get myselt some real shoes.
l'm telling you, boy.|They find out, they liable to shoot you.
Nigger, is you a old man or old woman?|l forget.
Come on. Dream.
l'm waiting on you.
''Dear Mother. News today|of the defeat at Fredericksburg.
lf things continue to go badly,|l wonder if l might not end my days...
as an outlaw leader|of a band of fugitive slaves.
Try as I may,|I don 't know these men...
their music, their camaraderie--
which is different from ours.
l am placed in a position where,|if l were a man of real strength...
l might do a great deal.
But I am afraid l shall show|that I'm not of much account.
I don't want to stand in their way|because of my own weakness.
I miss Christmas on the Shaw Island|and the smell of the sea. "
l just wanted to say--
l wanted to say--
Merry Christmas, Robert.
Merry Christmas, Thomas.
You're Shaw, aren't you?|Merry Christmas.
Kendrick, division quartermaster.
This sorry piece of work is Haggis.
He writes vouchers.
- How's it going down there?|- Oh, very well. Thank you.
That's all right. Brass are all up|to Division, planning the next disaster.
You're among triends.
How much longer do you figure|they'll last?
l hear they're deserting|ten at a time.
Oh, you're misintormed.|We haven't had a single incident.
l tigure the nigs never had it so good.
Three square a day,|a root over their heads.
They gotta know nobody's|gonna let them fight. Am l right?
Yes, of course.
lt there's anything you need--
a bottle for the cold nights--
Actually, l put in a requisition|tor shoes two weeks ago...
and l haven't heard anything.
Well, provisionally speaking...
we're extremely limited as to tootwear.
That kind ot item has to be reserved...
for those units|whose tighting readiness...
Yes, l understand.
- Excuse me.|- Stop by tomorrow.
l have got the most delicious|local jam. Myrtle berry, isn't it?
- Blueberry.|- Right, right.
Nice meeting you, Shaw.
- Excuse me, sir.|- What is it?
We've caught a deserter.
Oh, Lordy, this is bad.
They ain't gonna shoot him, is they?
lt'll be all right...
Re-torm your ranks!
- Re-torm your ranks!|- Form your ranks!
Fall in.|Quiet in the ranks.
Quiet in the ranks!
Untie his hands|and take otf his coat.
The prisoner is in position, sir.
What is this?
The prisoner is to be tlogged|betore the entire regiment.
Robert, not with a whip.|Not on them.
- Excuse us, Sergeant Mulcahy.|- At your pleasure, Colonel.
Never question my authority|in front ot others.
WeIl, l is sorry, massa.
You be the boss man now,|and all us chilluns must learn to obey.
Major Forbes, stand at attention!
You may commence.
This morning l--
lt would be a great help|if l could talk to you...
about the men trom time to time.
The men need shoes.
l know. l've been after|the quartermaster for some time.
Now, sir. Now.
The boy was ott trying to find hisselt|some shoes, Colonel.
He wants to fight...
same as the rest ot us.
All ot the men, like this?
Yes, sir. Most of them.
Good atternoon, Colonel.
Change your mind about that bottle?
l want 600 pair ot shoes|and 1,200 pair ot socks...
and anything else|you've been holding out on us.
- You piece of rat tiIth.|- l'd love to help you.
- But we just don't have any.|- Not for niggers, you don't.
- Not tor anybody.|- l see. Pity.
l'lI just look and see|that you haven't misplaced them.
Son of a bitch!
- Damn it! You can't--|- Can't l?
l'm a colonel, nasty little cuss.
You really think you can keep|700 Union soldiers...
without proper shoes|because you think it's tunny?
Where would that power come trom?
All right. Calm down.
Look, have a drink.
Hey, you barefoot men !
Get over here!
Have a pair.
Here's a pair there.|One pair ot shoes here.
Here's another pair.|One pair per customer.
Steward, is there anything you need?
- No, sir.|- Keep me informed.
Yes, sir. l will.
From the War Department.
Can anything be done?
- They've got families.|- l know.
We'll protest this|through channels later on.
- Attention, battalion.|- Yes, sir.
You men enIisted in this regiment...
on the understanding...
that you would be paid|the regular army wage...
ot $13 a month.
This morning l have been notified...
that since you are a colored regiment,|you will be paid $10 a month.
That ain't tair.|They said 13.
Regiment, fall out|by company to receive pay.
- Where you going, boy?|- To get paid.
Ten dollar a lot ot money.
Hey, pop, you titting to lay down|for this too?
Fall in !
Hey. Come on.|Where's your pride, now?
Make your mark right here.
l can write my name.
- Then do it.|- They gonna give us but ten?
You gonna go for that?
A coIored soldier stop a bullet|just as good as a white one!
And for less money too!
Yeah! Uncle Abe got hisself|a real bargain here!
- What you say, boy?|- That's right, slaves!
Make your mark.|Get your slave wages!
All you good colored boys,|sign up.
That's right. Tear it up!
Tear it up!
lf you men will take no pay...
then none of us will.
Let's hear it tor the colonel!
Man, l forgot how hot|it was down here.
Welcome home, boy.
Don't worry about it, buck.|Take a good look.
lt's all a memory|now that the North man come.
Now that we come.
Edward Pierce, special assignment|from Harper's Weekly.
- Harper's Weekly ?|- Serving an entire nation.
A million loyal readers want to know|what happens when the 54th sees action.
A million and one.
Well, you'll want to see this.
- Rawlins, front and center.|- Sir!
Mr. Rawlins, this regiment|was formed with the promise...
that only white ofticers|would be commissioned to lead it.
Nothing was mentioned, however,|about noncommissioned ofticers.
Theretore, in recognition ot initiative|taken not only for yourselt...
but on behalt|of the entire regiment...
you are hereby awarded the rank|ot sergeant major.
- Thank you, sir.|- Hip, hip, hooray!
l ain't sure|l'm wanting this, Colonel.
I know exactly how you feeI.
Mama, they're coming home!|They're coming home!
That's right. Ain't no dream.
We run away slaves,|but we come back fightin' men.
Go tell your foIks how kingdom come|in the year ot jubilee!
Left! Up tight up there!
- Who are these ragamuffin?|- Contrabands right out of the tields.
- Hey. Hey, old man, where trom?|- Massachusetts.
Oona march better than we.|Oona march like the buckra soldier.
- I beg your pardon?|- He says we march like white soldiers.
Even talk like the buckra soldier.
- Where you from?|- Oh, round about here.
We were slaves in the tield when|the Yankee man come. Say we soldiers.
How you like the army, contraband?
We love it.|We thank the Lord every day...
for the good vittles|and these beautiful clothes.
Tell true, old man.|This year, every day like Christmas.
- Like what?|- Like Christmas.
My country, 'tis of thee
Sweet land of liberty
Of thee I sing
Land where my father died
Land of the pilgrims' pride
From every mountainside
Let freedom ring
They've been working for weeks|in anticipation ot your arrival.
We're all very excited|to have you here, Shaw.
- Thank you, sir.|- Lincoln's idea.
Hired a group ot New Englanders to teach|our colored how to read and write.
Just your sort ot people,|l should think.
Your regiment should enjoy|their stay here.
Yes, l'm sure we'll have a fine time,|but that's not why we're here.
Yes, well, can't promise you|much action.
Just having the coloreds around seems to|have scared the bejesus out of the Rebs.
- Colonel Shaw?|- Excuse me.
l'd like you to meet|some of our instructors.
Dr. Thorpe of Salem.
- lt's my pleasure, Colonel Shaw.|- A pleasure.
Dr. Rogers ot Philadelphia.
- l know and admire your parents.|- You do, sir? Why, thank you, sir.
Shaw, meet Colonel Montgomery.
He's your brigade commander.
- Colonel.|- Honored, sir.
Colonel Montgomery's|a real jayhawker trom Kansas.
Contraband regiment|is his brainchild.
You didn't think yours were the only|coIoreds around, did you, Colonel?
l did actually.
Well, l'm sure they'll do just tine.|Have they seen any mischief?
l'm hiking a company over|to the Georgia coast in the morning.
We'll be foraging for supplies.|l could use a hand.
That is, it you think|your men are up to it.
- They are indeed, sir.|- Good. Very good.
- A pleasure.|- Good night.
Beg to report, Colonel, sir.
The troop is fed|and bedded down for the night, sir.
Very good, Corporal.|Pass the word along to ''A'' Company.
We'll be going into action|in the morning.
Very good, sir.
Your men march handsomely, Colonel.|My compliments.
Thank you, sir.
l am surprised at how well|you handle them.
See, l am from Kentucky originally.
We owned a tew ourselves,|so it comes naturally to me.
- You are trom Boston, are you not?|- Yes.
lt is impossible|to imagine Boston with slaves.
- Halt!|- Shoulder arms!
Town's clean, sir.|Ain't no Rebs here, just some women.
Well, alI right!|You hear that, boys?
Let's clear her out!
What are you doing?
Liberating this town|in the name of the Republic.
The musket, Massa Colonel?|Never shoot it. Shoot now?
Yeah, l don't see why not.|Go ahead.
Shoot the lady, boys!
Don't shoot!|We ain't Secess' here!
That man is a civilian.
That man is Secess',|and Secess' is all the same, son.
Look around. You really think anybody's|gonna put these boys into real combat?
They're little children, for God's sake.|They're little monkey children.
You just gotta know|how to control them.
Please, let go! Oh, God!
You see what l mean?|Children!
- Animal ! Leave her aIone!|- Hey, boy!
Take your hands oft the white lady!
That would not have been necessary|it that Secess' woman hadn't started it.
They'll never learn.
Secess' has got to be|swept away by the hand ot God...
like the Jews of old.
And now l'll have to burn this town.
Nigger soldiers! Nigger soldiers!
TeIl your men to set torches|and prepare to tire the buildings.
l will not.
That is an order.
You will do it or tace charges|tor disobeying your superior otficer.
lt is an immoral order, and by articles|ot war l am not bound to obey it.
Well, you can just explain that|at your court-marital...
after your men|are placed under my command.
First squad, second platoon.
Fall out to set torches.|Prepare to tire the town.
First squad, second platoon!|Fall out!
The colors, Sergeant Major.
Change the colors.
What you lookin' at,|biscuit eaters?
You think you better than me?|You think you my judge?
You ain't nothin'!
''Dear Father. l need your help.
Despite my many requests,|it has become clear...
that we are to be|used only for manual labor.
Morale is low.
The men 's good humor|darkened by idleness and despair.
Why keep drilling if they're never given|the opportunity to prove themselves?"
''l have written to Governor Andrew...
as well as to|the General Staff in Washington.
But I feel that only a letter|directly from you to Lincoln himself...
can have the desired effect.
I can think of no other course.
I am sure you both pray,|as l do...
that all this|has not been in vain. "
Look like we're goin' the wrong way.
Hey. Hey, come on now.|Buck up, boys!
Hey, buck up now! Come on!
Someday they're gonna|let the 54th get into it, see?
And all your troubles|would be over, huh?
Come on now. Cheer up! Hey!
- What'd you say, boy?|- ''Boy''?
- Let me tell you--|- Shut up, Trip--
Would you get up off me, snowtlake?
See, let me explain|something to you.
The way l tigure, l tigure this war|would be over a whole lot sooner...
it you boys just turn right on around|and head on back down that way...
and you let us head on up there|where the real tightin' is.
Them men dyin' up that road.
lt wouldn't be nothin' but Rebs dying,|it they let the 54th in it.
- Listen--|- Hold it!
As you were, Trip! As you were!
You men move on.
Stripes on a nigger.|That's like tits on a bull.
You're lookin' at a higher rank,|Corporal. You'll obey and like it.
- Make me.|- l'll make you.
- What the helI is goin' on here?|- Attention !
You! Yes, you. What's your name?|I'm putting you up on charges.
- Ain't no cause tor that, sir.|- What's that, Sergeant?
It's just a soldiers' fight, sir.
- All right. You men move along.|- Front step! Forward! March !
You men get back to work.|Back to work! Let's go!
- We'll see you again.|- Go dig a latrine.
Go strum a banjo, boy.
l've got the guard.|Let me use your looking glass.
Yeah, button up that collar.
Suck in that gut.
Tuck in them big black lips.
Lighten your skin.|Shrink up that nose.
l don't have to listen to this.
Where you goin', boy?
- Let me by.|- Let you by?
Let you by?
Let me tell you something, boy.
You can march like the white man.|You can talk like 'em.
You can learn his songs.|You can even wear his suits.
But you ain't never|gonna be nothin' to him...
but an ugly-ass chimp|in a blue suit.
- Oh, you don't like that, do you?|- No.
What we gonna do about it?|Want to fight me, boy?
Huh? What you gonna|do about it?
You want to fight me, don't you?|Don't you?
- Come on, nig.|- All right! All right!
Get your hands otf me,|gravedigger.
Goddamn it. Does the whole world|gotta stomp in your face?
- Nigger, get your hands ott me.|- Ain't no niggers here.
So the white man give you|a couple ot stripes...
next thing you know, you hollerin'|and orderin' everybody around...
like you the massa himself.
Nigger, you ain't nothin'|but the white man's dog.
And what are you?
So full ot hate|you wanna fight everybody...
'cause you've been whipped|and chased by hounds.
That might not be livin',|but it sure ain't dyin'.
And dying's what these white boys|been doin' tor goin' on three years now.
Dyin' by the thousands.|Dyin' for you, tool !
l know, 'cause l dug the graves.
And all the time l'm diggin',|l'm asking myselt, ''When?
When, O Lord,|is it gonna be our time?''
Time's comin' when|we're gonna have to ante up.
Ante up and kick in like men.|Like men !
You watch who you call a nigger.
lt there's any niggers around here,|it's you.
Smart-mouth, stupid-ass,|swamp-running nigger.
lt you ain't careful,|that's all you ever gonna be.
You men go on back to business.
Well, Colonel,|what can l do for you?
You can give me and my regiment|a transter to combat command.
Couldn't do it, Colonel.
You're much too valuable|to my operations here.
May l sit?
Thank you. Major.
l've written a letter|to my father...
asking him to press Governor Andrew|and President Lincoln.
But l don't have to wait|for all that, do l?
Colonel Montgomery, would you|bring that ashtray over here?
But valuable to your operations here,|do you say?
Your foraging,|your depredations?
Yes, l've become quite a student|ot your operations in this region.
Thirty-four mansions,|l think it was, pillaged and burned...
under Colonel Montgomery's expedition|of the Combahee.
Four thousand bales of cotton|smuggled through the lines...
with payment to parties unknown...
except by you.
False quartermaster requisitions.|Major Forbes here has seen the copies.
Along with confiscated valuables|shipped north as personal baggage.
Shall l go on?
l can report you|to the War Department.
Oh, yes. l can do that.
Let you take your regiment|out to fight?
That's what you want, isn't it?|Show what they can do.
- When?|- You are bright-eyed, aren't you?
Just as soon as|I can write the orders.
All right, company, in a line.|Double-quick!
All right, men, form a tiring line.|Over here.
Form a tiring line right here!
Front rank, kneel!
Firing by battalion !
Cease tire! Recover!
Here they come!
- Reload!|- Reload! Load!
- Load it! Load it!|- Quickly, men!
- Ready!|- Ready!
- Aim!|- Aim!
Get ready. Get ready!
- Reload!|- Reload!
- Fire at will!|- Fire at will!
Pour it in!
Look out, boy! Look out!
They're turnin' tail !
Run, you Rebs!
Deploy skirmishers, Captain.
Re-torm your ranks!|Re-form your ranks!
Fall in ! On the double!
- Form Company.|- Thomas!
How do, CoIonel?
Hurts, doesn't it?
Well, l'm extremely jealous.
You'll be back in Boston before me,|sitting by the tire...
reading Hawthorne,|cup of decent coftee.
l'm not going back.
Thomas, listen to me.|You're shot. You have to go back.
Robert, promise me...
that you won't send me back.
All right. All right.
- What is all this?|- You haven't heard?
Lee was turned back in Pennsylvania|at Gettysburg...
now Grant's taken Vicksburg,|and alI on the Fourth of July.
- My God!|- Yeah !
lt looks like it'll all be over|by Christmas.
- So, how did they do?|- SpIendid. Just splendid.
- Any casualties?|- Forty-two.
Give me the details.|l'll wire it in.
l don't think we got|a prayer ot making the paper.
l'll talk to you later|in your tent.
As you were.
- Trip, isn't it?|- Yes, sir.
You fought very well|yesterday, Trip.
Sergeant Rawlins has recommended|that you receive a commendation.
Yes, and l think you should bear|the regimental colors.
lt's considered quite an honor.
wantin' to say somethin', sir,|but l--
AIl right. See--
l ain't tightin' this war|tor you, sir.
l mean, what's the point?
Ain't nobody gonna win.|lt's just gonna go on and on.
- It can't go on forever.|- But ain't nobody gonna win.
Somebody's gonna win.
l mean, you get to go on back|to Boston to a big house and all that.
What about us?|What do we get?
Well, you won't get anything|it we lose.
What do you want to do?
l don't know, sir.
lt stinks, l suppose.
Yeah, it stinks bad.
And we all covered up in it.|Ain't nobody clean.
Be nice to get clean though.
How do we do that?
We ante up and kick in, sir.
But l still don't|wanna carry your tlag.
No one will ever take Charleston|without tirst...
silencing the torts|which protect its harbor.
And the first one that must|be taken is that, Fort Wagner.
Wagner mounts a ten-inch Columbiad...
three smoothbore 32-pounders...
a 42-pound Carronade...
a 10-inch Coast Mortar|and tour 12-pound Howitzers...
plus a garrison|of about a thousand men.
As many ot you gentlemen|may be aware...
for the last tour days|our navy has weakened Wagner...
with a constant barrage.
Headquarters has determined a time|for our attack.
We will proceed with a direct|trontal assault tomorrow at dusk.
The problem, gentlemen,|is the approach.
The ocean and the marsh|leave only a narrow strip ot sand...
a natural defile, through which we can|only send one regiment at a time.
Our best hope is that that leading|regiment can keep the Rebs occupied...
long enough for reintorcements|to exploit the breach.
Needless to say, casualties|in the leading regiment may be extreme.
The 54th Massachusetts...
requests the honor ot leading|the attack on Fort Wagner.
lt's Colonel Shaw, isn't it?
You and your men|haven't slept tor two days.
That's right, sir.
And you think they have the strength|to lead this charge?
There's more to fighting|than rest, sir.
There's strength ot heart.
You should have seen us|in action two days ago.
We were a sight to see.
We'll be ready, sir.
When do you want us?
O Lord, O Lord
Lord, Lord, Lord
He packed in the animals|two by two
An ox, a camel and a kangaroo
Packed them in that ark so tight
l couldn't get no sleep that night
Grown-up sons|Shem and Ham
Tell me about God's master plan
O my Lord|Lord, Lord, Lord
- Tomorrow we goin' to battle.|- All right.
So, Lordy, let me fight|with the ritle in one hand...
and the Good Book in the other.
- Yeah !|- Amen!
That if l should die|at the muzzle of the ritle...
die on water or on land...
l may know that You,|blessed Jesus Almighty, are with me.
And l have no fear. Amen.
O my Lord|Lord, Lord, Lord
Lord, we stand betore You|this evenin'...
to say thank you.
We thank You, Father,|tor Your grace...
and Your many blessings.
Now, l run otf...
and lett all my young'uns|and my kinfolk in bondage.
So l'm standing here this evening,|Heavenly Father...
to ask Your blessings|on all ot us...
so that it tomorrow|is our great getting-up mornin'...
it tomorrow we have to meet|the Judgment Day...
O Heavenly Father,|we want You to let our foIks know...
that we died tacin' the enemy.
We want 'em to know|that we went down standin' up--
among those that are fightin'|against our oppression !
We want 'em to know, Heavenly Father,|that we died for freedom.
We ask these blessings|in Jesus' name. Amen!
- Trip! Come on !|- No, l ain't--
You better get|your butt up there, boy.
Just say what you think.|Just say what you teel. Go on now.
- Come on.|- Preach it, brother.
Go on. Let it out.
l ain't much|about no prayin' now.
l ain't never had no family and...
killed otf my mama.
This teels tunny.
- Come on.|- lt's all right.
Come on now.|You're doin' fine.
Well, l just--
You know, y'all's-- y'all's--
Y'all's the onliest family l got.
WeIl, that's aIl right.
- l love the 54th.|- All right.
Ain't much matter what happens tomorrow,|'cause we men, ain't we?
- Yes, sir!|- Amen !
- We men, ain't we?|- Yes, sir!
- Attention, company!|- Attention, company!
We ready, CoIonel.
Left! Lett! Lett, right!
- Give 'em hell, 54th!|- Give 'em hell, 54th !
- Ready! Fire!|- Ready! Fire!
- Ought to be quite a show, Pierce.|- Best seat in the house.
l wonder if you might|do something tor me.
l have some letters here.|Personal things.
Also, it l should tall...
remember what you see here.
- Ready!|- Fire!
- Reload!|- Fire!
You men are relieved!|Report to the rear as stretcher bearers.
- Do it now!|- About-face!
Forward! March !
You go on, honey.|We be by directly.
It this man should tall...
who will litt the flag|and carry on?
l'll see you in the fort, Thomas.
- Fix!|- Fix!
- Shoulder!|- Shoulder!
- Charge!|- Charge!
At the quickstep!
Come on !
Keep your ranks!
Take cover in the dunes!
Company commanders, we'll wait here|and advance under cover ot darkness.
Get down over there!|Get down !
Company commanders!|Order your men to wait here!
- Sergeant Rawlins!|- Sir!
Pass the word along!|Forward on my command!
Forward on my command!
- Ready on the colors, men !|- Forward on my command! Ready!
- Charge!|- Charge!
Forward, men ! Forward!
- Forward!|- Charge!
Forward! Forward, men !
Come on, men ! Forward!
Come on, you men !|Don't stop! Get up there!
Come on !
Come on, 54th!
Come on !
Form a firing line here!
Get outta here!
Let's go! Move! Move!
Come on! Come on!
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