The 54th Massachusetts Regiment fight in the battle at Fort Wagner against the Confederate States. The 54th suffers heavy losses. While seeking refuge at the bottom of a hill under heavy fire, Col. Robert Gould Shaw (Broderick) stands up to inspire his troops to move up the hill, when he is suddenly shot and killed. Trip (Washington) picks up the American flag that was dropped and hails for them to move forward, but is also shot and killed. Forbes (Elwes) and Rawlins (Freeman) lead the 54th through the Fort killing everyone who stands in their way. They eventually run into a small opening which is guarded by two cannon emplacements. Although it is not shown, Forbes, Rawlins and the men behind them were most likely killed. The final scene shows the aftermath of the battle, as numerous bodies lay lifeless on the sands of Fort Wagner. A Confederate drops Trip's body next to Shaw's. A final epilogue tells us that the 54th were hailed for their bravery.
Colonel Robert G. Shaw: There's more to fighting than rest, sir. There, there's strength of 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?
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