My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Written by Louis F. Emilio after the war of his experiences as a captain in the 54th and 55th Massachusetts Volunteers, A Brave Black Regiment is a true to life account of these two regiments exploits in the civil war. Watch Glory, but read this book and Blue Eyed Child of Fortune (from the letters of Robert Gould Shaw of his war experiences). A Brave Black Regiment shows that fact is far more riveting than fiction and you get to see the real privations that the 54th went through before and after Fort Wagner, South Carolina. Emilio and other white officers of the 54th (the 55th was formed out of the excess of volunteers of free blacks from Massachusetts) were granted commissions from the Governor of Mass. as other officers were in the volunteer service. This differed from the selection process used by the army to fill officer quotas in the USCT formations of a written exam and board interview. Emilio was a non commissioned officer in the 23rd Mass. at the time Gov. Andrew began petitioning the War Dept. for the raising of a black regiment. Contrary to the movie, Andrew was not the first to raise a black regiment, but the 54th and 55th were the first northern units raised from free blacks. Emilio took his chance and requested an appointment for commission and was granted it after an interview with those whom Andrew commissioned to recruit officers.
What is also notable is the service the regiment gave after Fort Wagner and the fight at Olustee, Florida where it and the 55th and several USCT regiments fought alongside white brigades and further proved their mettle in a fight.