Glory: Hollywood vs. History
Glory is a movie about the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, one of the first official all black units in the United States during the Civil War. It’s an inspirational story of how a young Union soldier, Robert Gould Shaw, is offered the chance to lead an army unit that will change not only his life, but the lives of many other Americans. Glory does a great job of capturing many of the feelings towards the black soldiers during the Civil War. The film is based off of the writings of Robert Gould Shaw, from letters he sent to his friends and family members. Most of the events in the movie are depicted very closely to how they actually happened. Director Edward Zwick tried to keep the movie as historically accurate as possible but, as many history movies do, Glory left out some important details. Shaw’s parents were both well-known abolitionist, and in Glory, so is he. Truthfully, Shaw didn’t share his parents’ passion for freeing the slaves. Shaw spent most of his youth studying and traveling in Europe. Eventually he attended Harvard, but ended up dropping out. Not long after leaving Harvard, the war began and Shaw found his purpose. He immediately joined the army and headed to the fight. After nearly 3 years, Shaw reached the rank of Captain. This is when he received the opportunity to lead the 54th. In the film, Shaw is asked by Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew to lead the 54th while at a dinner party, and after little hesitation, he gladly accepts. In reality, Shaw wasn’t Andrew’s first choice for the position, nor was Shaw ever at said dinner party. Shaw was actually approached by his father at a Union camp. At first Shaw declined, then after a few days of thought and pressure from his mother, he reluctantly accepted. In the movie, Shaw is promoted to Colonel immediately after accepting the position, but military records show he was a major for several months until the regiment grew in numbers. In Glory, Shaw asks his...
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