GLORY  (1989)

 
Scene Log
-- section titles are from the DVD version --

0:00:00  Start
The film begins as Captain Shaw narrates a letter written home to his mother with his thoughts on the war and its purpose.  All the while, viewers see various camp activities and games of the Civil War soldier and then sights of Union fighters mobilizing in preparation for battle.
 

0:03:52  Antietam Creek
Antiquated methods of battle converge with recent technological advances in weaponry to show the true horrors of war, especially as seen on this bloody day in September 1862.  (0:05:20) Union soldiers retreat momentarily as Captain Shaw falls on the battlefield, having been shot slightly in the neck.  (0:06:31) Capt. Shaw wakes from an unconscious state to witness a battlefield strewn with bodies of soldiers, both dead and injured, but still very close to the ongoing fight, just over a ridge.
 
0:08:27  Field Hospital
Captain Shaw is seen in a busy field hospital by a fellow officer since all the surgeons are busy treating other men.  He tells Shaw of a rumor anticipating President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation as he removes the bullet from his neck, all the while Shaw sits patiently spectating a ghastly procedure amputating a fellow soldier's leg.
 
0:09:38  The Shaw party
Captain Shaw, uneasily meanders through his house back home in Boston at one of his parents' abolitionist gathering.  Shaw meets Governor Andrew and Frederick Douglass after speaking briefly to childhood friend Thomas Searles, an educated and free black man.  Shaw is promoted to Colonel and subsequently asked to lead the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, which will be the first black division in the Union's army.  (0:12:45)  Shaw escapes outside to ponder his promotion and is joined by another childhood friend and fellow officer, Cabot Forbes, who after discussing the idea with Shaw is asked to be a part of it.  Thomas joins his white friends outside and asks to be the regiment's first volunteer.
 
0:14:39  Recruits
Colonel Shaw on horseback rides past the amassed crowds of black men who have come from all over to enlist and be a part of the 54th.  He introduces himself to the men and blesses their purpose.  (0:16:22) Company officers attempt to make order of the massive crowd and begin the process of officially enlisting the men.
 
0:17:16  Readville Camp
The poorly dressed enlistees, walking past insults from white Union soldiers, enter Readville Camp where they will be trained in the coming weeks.  (0:18:00) Four soldiers and a drummer boy enter their tent for the first night.  Thomas Searles, Jupiter Sharts, and John Rawlins meet each other and the embittered ex-slave Trip.  (0:20:40) At next morning's breakfast, Thomas seeks out Major Forbes for conversation but is interrupted when Col. Shaw calls Forbes aside, telling his friend that he will not allow fraternization with the enlisted men, whether it be Thomas or not.
 
0:21:53  "Dear Mother"
Sgt. Major Mulcahy arrives and begins his exhausting and humiliating version of training to convert the men into soldiers.  (0:23:55) After Col. Shaw instructs Forbes to check up on their order of uniforms, he narrates another letter home, confirming the confidence he has in the black unit.  (0:24:42) Major Forbes delivers urgent news to Shaw of a Confederate dictum which the Colonel subsequently reads aloud to the assembled men.  This Confederate Congress-issued proclamation announces their claim to put to death any negro in uniform and likewise any white officer found in command of a negro unit.  The colonel commands that any soldier wishing to leave will be able to in the morning following official separation procedures.  The next morning, however, all the men gather in formation, having not lost a single member of the regiment to the threat from the Confederates.
 
0:29:53  Issuing arms
John Rawlins distributes the recently arrived 57-caliber in-field rifle muskets.  The soldiers pretend they're at battle with their new arms while Col. Shaw watches from aside, recalling the horrors of real battle and quite unable to see the fun they're having.  (0:31:29) Jupiter employs his squirrel hunting skills to reveal his astonishing accuracy with the weapon.  Both Forbes and his fellow men are impressed until Shaw makes an example of Jupiter when he is unable, as commanded, to discharge and reload three aimed shots within a minute.
 
0:34:22  It is my job
Maj. Forbes confronts Col. Shaw to question his methods of training and especially how he treats their childhood friend, Thomas.  Shaw's response is one of poise and purpose, in which he reminds Cabot rather defensively that he is getting the men ready for battle, despite the possibility that the unit may never fight.  The colonel attempts to convey his viewpoint of their obligation to train the black men who have come to join their regiment.
 
0:36:51  Bayonet Practice
Sgt. Maj. Mulcahy facilitates bayonet practice and takes it upon himself to single out the worst soldier in the company, Thomas, who falters miserably in the exercise and falls to the ground, sobbing.  Shaw, watching uncomfortably from aside, orders the Sergeant Major to discipline an inappropriate comment from Pvt. Trip.  The colonel, who is then confronted by Thomas, reminds him that he must get permission to speak to his commanding officer.  (0:38:57) Back in their tent, the four black soldiers talk about Colonel Shaw and on some level agree that their commanding officer is a hard man.  Trip antagonizes Thomas and then proceeds to unsuccessfully tempt Jupiter to join him in a search for shoes and extra food.  (0:42:00) Shaw narrates another letter as he walks through his soldiers' camps, discussing the distance he feels between himself and the black soldiers.  He encounters Thomas, who at first hesitates but then wishes Robert a merry Christmas, to which Robert reiterates.  (0:43:45) Shaw attends a holiday party for officers, stomaching numerous racist insults toward his unit from Kendric, a quartermaster who invites Shaw to his office for some local jam.  (0:45:36) The next morning, Shaw is informed of a deserter who happens to be Pvt. Trip.  Sgt. Major Mulcahy notifies Shaw that the soldier is to be publicly whipped, to which Shaw agrees.  Forbes is reprimanded for challenging the Colonel's authority in front of everyone before Mulcahy proceeds to conduct the punishment.  (0:48:49) Shaw seeks out Mr. Rawlins, whom he asks to speak with from time to time about the men and their overall sentiment.  Rawlins divulges to Shaw that the men need shoes, and that Trip wasn't deserting but had been out looking for a pair of much needed shoes.
 
0:50:42  600 Shoes
The next day Colonel Shaw goes to the Quartermaster's office to bully 600 shoes and 1200 socks from Kendric, who yields as Shaw overpowers the man's rank and makes a mess of his station.  (0:52:00) Shortly after, Rawlins is distributing shoes and socks to the men of the 54th.  (0:52:45) Shaw personally checks up on Trip's medical progress.
 
0:53:11  Payday
Shaw receives a letter from the War Department informing him that his men will receive less than the $13 per month salary of a Union soldier because they are a colored regiment.  He instructs Forbes to protest the terms later on, and then he informs the troops of their lower pay, who fallout to receive their checks until a spontaneous demonstration begins, with men complaining and tearing up their wage slips.  Shaw discharges his pistol to get their attention and joins their opposition, declaring that if they will take no pay then their officers will not either.  Uniforms are subsequently distributed during the gathering.
 
0:56:40  The 54th
The 54th Massachusetts Regiment marches through the streets of Boston during a patriotic parade.  The musical score replaces the sounds of the fife and drum as separate camera shots focus on Thomas, Jupiter, Rawlins, Trip, and Shaw in uniform and marching.  The scene powerfully reveals how proud they are of their unit's progress.
 
0:58:46  New Sgt. Major
Antebellum homes are seen from riverboats transporting the 54th from Boston to the southern front.  On the boat, a journalist on special assignment from Harper's Weekly periodical introduces himself and his magazine's intent to inform one million readers of any action the unit sees.  Then Major Forbes calls attention to the unit as he awards the rank of Sergeant Major to John Rawlins.  The men march into Beaufort, South Carolina, as recently freed black children run along the regiment in awe.
 
1:01:14  Beaufort
The unit continues marching past a scattered and unorganized contraband unit, recently formed from ex-slaves.  Two of them talk to Searles, who is unable to understand their dialect, and must ask Rawlins for translation.  (1:02:25) Shaw attends a party in which he converses with General Harker, his higher up, who gives Shaw a mixed feeling on having the black unit around.  The colonel is then introduced to a number of abolitionists (who came to South Carolina to instruct the newly freed blacks) and his brigade's commander, Col. Montgomery, who proceeds to invite Shaw to accompany him on a mission to the Georgia coast the next morning.  Shaw accepts and informs Thomas to pass along the word that they'll be going into action.
 
1:04:51  Darien
The 54th Regiment marches in formation while the contraband unit disorderly advances toward the Georgian town of Darien while the commanders talk on horseback of their origins.  Montgomery concedes his racist background to Shaw, telling him of his upbringing in Kentucky where his family once owned slaves.  Montgomery commands his troops to pillage the town and instructs Shaw to order his troops to do the same.  The contraband ensues to fire upon the civilians, whom Montgomery calls secces' that must be swept away by the hand of God like the Jews of old.  Shaw refuses to obey until Montgomery threatens to court marshall the colonel.  Shaw's first squad, second platoon, falls out to set torches and fires the town.
 
1:09:30  "Dear Father"
Another letter of Shaw's is narrated, this one asking his father for help.  The 54th Regiment is unhappily consigned to manual labor.  Col. Shaw requests that his father write directly to President Lincoln, just as he has written to Governor Andrew requesting that the 54th be given an opportunity to prove itself.  A white Union regiment passes through the camp and heated derogatory racial words are exchanged.  Rawlins intervenes to calm the situation until he is insulted himself and disobeyed by a lower ranking soldier.  The confrontation is finally broken up when Forbes arrives and threatens to write up the white soldier drawing the most attention.

1:12:04  Thomas and Trip
Trip antagonizes Thomas to the point where they are about to brawl.  Rawlins holds Trip back, but Trip redirects his anger toward his newly promoted fellow soldier.  Rawlins backhands Trip in order to shut up him while he gives a passionate speech putting Trip well in his place. (1:14:46)  Shaw and Forbes meet directly with General Harker in his office to press him for a combat command transfer.  Harker refuses until Col. Shaw threatens to report him to the War Department for smuggling and other depredations.
 

1:15:41  James Island
The 54th Regiment rushes to mobilize a firing line.  They initially repel a Cavalry unit, but the bulk of the Rebel company appears through the smoke and fog.  In the following battle, the 54th fares well but not without casualties.  Thomas, in a state of confusion from the charge, is shot  in the shoulder but remains in battle long enough to save Trip's life.  After the rebel forces retreat, the 54th is victorious.
 
1:22:50  A promise
Shaw while surveying the battlefield for his unit's losses, comes across Thomas who is laying down and being treated for his gunshot wound.  Pvt. Searles makes Shaw promise him that he will not send him back to Boston.

1:23:57  News
A Harper's Weekly reporter updates Shaw on the Union's most recent victories.  Shaw reports 42 casualties at James Island to him, but the journalist doesn't think such news could make his paper.  (1:25:03)  Shaw confronts Pvt. Trip at a pond, where he asks him to bear the regimental colors, considered a great honor.  Trip refuses to do so, however, claiming that he is not fighting this war for Shaw and that the black soldiers have no real chance of winning anything in the end.

1:27:49  Requesting the honor
General Strong announces Headquarters' battle plan to the commanding officers alongside the beach from which they will begin their attack.  He details Fort Wagner's defensive capabilities and warns their approach will limit an assault to one regiment which could sustain extreme casualties.  Shaw steps forward to volunteer the 54th despite their exhaustion.  (1:29:30) Shaw and Forbes quietly sip drinks in their tent and contemplate.  (1:30:15) The night prior to the attack, the 54th soldiers have encircled a fire.  They sing and pray for their cause and their safety, with emotional speeches from Sharts, Rawlins, and Trip.

1:36:03  "We are ready."
In the early morning, Shaw is dressed by a black assistant.  The 54th is called to attention and marches its way through the cheers and motivational shouts of other white regiments on their way to the beach front. 

1:38:30  "Remember..."
Before assembling his men for their perilous attack, Col. Shaw gives his personal letters for home to the Harper’s Weekly reporter. “If I should fall, remember what you see here,” he tells the journalist. Rawlins tells their drummer boy to move along with the other drummers to the rear of the unit.  Shaw looks out over the ocean, to the battery, and then lets his horse run free.  The colonel steps his way through the applause and hat tossing of his men.  In his final address to the regiment, Shaw asks who will take the flag if the bearer falls.  Thomas volunteers, saying, "I will."

1:42:25  March to glory
The soldiers fix their bayonets and begins marching faster and faster toward Battery Wagner ahead.

1:44:09  "CHARGE!"
The regiment begins to sprint, and the men attempt to hunker down, take cover, and avoid the oncoming bullets and mortars.  As the sun sets, the soldiers keep pushing forward. (1:46:12) Now nightfall, the unit regroups behind sand dunes with flares overhead.   Shaw rallies his officers to spread the word to move forward on his command. (1:46:56) The 54th begins its second charge.

1:48:13  Fort's wall
The soldiers cross a moat before reaching the parapets.  Shaw, Forbes, Rawlins, Sharts, Searles, and Trip take cover one last time at the bottom of the dune underneath the fort.  Shaw makes a desperate attempt toward the wall but is shot down in front of his entire regiment. Trip grabs the flag and screams for the rest of the men to join him but is shot dead just moments later.  The 54th takes their lead, crests the dunes, and breaches the fort walls only to find a deluge of reinforcements awaiting their arrival.

1:52:28  Lost cause
Early in the morning, a calm tide rolls in from the Atlantic. The dead soldiers scatter the beach dunes. The victorious Rebels raise their Confederate flag at the fort. The 54th's dead have been arranged in order, and their shoes taken.  Col. Shaw’s body is thrown into a mass grave with the rest of his regiment's dead.  Pvt. Trip's body slides down the same burial hole, landing on top of his commanding officer.  (1:54:48) A final scene reads: The 54th Massachusetts lost over half its number on the assault on Ft. Wagner.  The supporting white brigades also suffered heavily before withdrawing.  The fort was never taken.  As word of their bravery spread, Congress at last authorized the raising of black troops throughout the Union.  Over 180,000 volunteered.  President Lincoln credited these men of color with helping turn the tide of the war.
 


Copyright (c) 2003, Todd Scurci and Denny Boyle, Undergraduates at Lehigh University.

This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of the U.S. copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that the author is notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the author.