The motion picture “Glory” was a compelling movie, so compelling that many viewers would probably have taken away the impression that the 54th Massachusetts Regiment was one of the first African-American, or “colored” to use the terminology of the time, unit in the Civil War to be formed and the first unit to see combat. Being a Civil War buff, I knew that wasn’t the case.
The battle called Island Mound was actually the first fought by colored soldiers and it not only preceded the assault on Battery Wagner by some ten months, it was fought before the War Department sanctioned the enlistment of colored troops. Another interesting aspect of the Island Mound battle is that the event itself is very little known and very little is known about the action that transpired there. The lack of much knowledge left a lot of room for dramatization, without the too much hazard of doing violence to historical fact, which is very much frowned upon by serious writers and readers of historical fiction.
The story in “Glory” was told from the viewpoint of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment’s white commanding officer, and I recalled a movie reviewer having stated it would have been interesting to know more about the colored soldiers portrayed in the film.
The final piece is that I was a pre-teen during the Civil War Centennial, and I read a number of young adult novels with teen-age soldiers as the main, or at least very important, characters.
Essentially, my idea was to combine the three elements to produce a novel about the experiences of a teen-age colored soldier who fought in the first battle fought by colored troops.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
F.W. Abel was born in New York. His life-long fascination with the Civil War began during the Civil War Centennial, when he was ten years old. After graduating from Fordham University, he served for eight years as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army and currently works for the federal government. He lives in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., within a few hours’ drive of most of the Civil War’s eastern theater battlefields, where he has walked the same ground once trodden by heroes.