Robert Gould Shaw: [narrating a letter to his mother] How grand it is to meet the men from all the states, east and west down here ready to fight for their country as the old fellows did in the Revolution. But this time we must make it a whole country for all who live here, so that all can speak. Before this war began many of my regiment had never seen a Negro. Now the roads are choked with the dispossessed. We fight for men and women whose poetry is not yet written, but which will presently be as enviable and as renowned as any.
0:19:59 Running for President
Rawlins: Where about you from?
Trip: I'm from around Tennessee. I ran away when I was 12 years old, and I ain't never looked back.
Sharts: What ya doin' since then?
Trip: I've been running for President... I ain't winning though.
0:24:44 A Dictum from the Confederacy
Forbes: [Handing a letter to Robert] They've done it.
Shaw: Assemble the men. [Outside, addressing the regiment] In accordance with President Lincoln's wishes, you men are advised that the Confederate Congress has issued a proclamation. It reads: "Any Negro taken in arms against the Confederacy will immediately be returned to a state of slavery. Any Negro taken in Federal uniform will be summarily put to death. Any white officer taken in command of Negro troops shall be deemed as inciting servile insurrection and shall likewise be put to death." Full discharges will be granted in the morning to all those who apply. Dismissed. [Addressing Forbes] If you're not here in the morning, I understand.
Trip: [To Sharts] Still want that blue suit, nigger?
0:28:48 Grow up some more
Shaw: Sgt. Major!
Shaw: I have no doubt that you are a fair man, Mulcahy. I wonder if you are treating these men too hard.
[Sgt. Mulcahy pauses]
Shaw: You disagree. You may speak freely.
Mulcahy: The boy's your friend, is he?
Shaw: We grew up together, yes.
Mulcahy: Let him grow up some more.
0:36:16 I owe them... you owe them!
Forbes: And what about Thomas? Why are you so hard on him?
Shaw: He's not a very good soldier. I'm getting these men ready for battle.
Forbes: Robert, they're already as good as the Seventh ever was. They march well. They're disciplined.
Shaw: No thanks to you.
Forbes: I beg your pardon.
Shaw: You heard me.
Forbes: Who do you think you are, acting the high-up colonel? You seem to forget I know you, and so does Thomas.
Shaw: Forbes! If you don't believe in what we're doing here maybe you shouldn't be part of it.
Forbes: Part of what? Huh!? Left, right! Left, right! Little finger along the seams of your trousers!? Marching is probably all they'll ever get to do, Robert.
Shaw: It is my job to get these men ready. And I will. They have risked their lives to be here. They have given up their freedom. I owe them as much as they have given. I owe them my freedom... my life if necessary! Maybe so do you, Cabot. I think you do!
0:39:23 Shaw's a swell
Sharts: That Colonel Shaw, he a hard man.
Trip: He a swell. Just a nigger-beating swell.
Sharts: But he in the same boat with us. Secess' come, take him, kill him too.
Trip: Huh. Not him. He a swell.
Rawlins: He just a boy.
Trip: Yeah. He a weak white boy. Beating on a nigger make him feel strong. Ain't' that right snowflake? You know, he ain't never been to no West Point. And the onliest reason he in charge is 'cause his mommy and daddy fixed it.
0:53:49 Tear it up!
Shaw: You men enlisted in this regiment on the understanding that you would be paid the regular army wage of $13 a month. This morning I have been notified that since you are a colored regiment, you will be paid $10 a month. Regiment, fall out by company to receive pay.
Trip: [To Sharts] Where you going, boy?
Soldier: to get paid, ten dollar a lot of money
Trip: [To Rawlins] Hey, pop, you fitting to lay down for this too? Hey, come on. Where's your pride, now?
. . . .
[Beginning to address the crowd, inciting a protest] A colored soldier stop a bullet just as good as a white one! And for less money too! Yeah! Uncle Abe got himself a real bargain here! What you say, boy?
Black soldier: That's right, slaves! Step right up, make your mark. Get your slave wage!
Another soldier: All you good colored boys, sign up.
Trip: That's right! Tear it up! Tear it up! Tear it up! Tear it up! Tear it up!
Shaw: [Discharging his pistol to get the ad hoc demonstration's attention] If you men will take no pay... then none of us will.
Colonel Montgomery: You see, secess' has got to be swept away by the hand of God like the Jews of old. And now I will have to burn this town. Tell your men to set torches and prepare to fire the buildings.
Shaw: I will not!
Montgomery: That is an order. You will do it, or you will be brought up on charges for disobeying your superior officer.
Shaw: It is an immoral order, and by articles of war I am not bound to obey it.
Montgomery: Well, you can just explain that at your court-martial... after your men are placed under my command.
Shaw: First squad, second platoon. Fall out to set torches. Prepare to fire the town.
1:12:40 Let me tell you!
Trip: [Antagonizing Thomas] Let me tell you something, boy. You can march like the white man, you can talk like 'em. You can sing his songs, you can even wear his suits. But, you ain't NEVER gonna be nothing to him, but an ugly ass chimp... in a blue suit.
1:13:20 The Gravedigger speaks
Trip: Get your hands off me, gravedigger.
Rawlins: Goddamn it. Does the whole world gotta stomp in your face?
Trip: Nigger, you better get your hands off me!
Rawlins: Ain't no niggers around here! You hear me?
Trip: Oh, I see, so the white man give you a couple of stripes, next thing you know, you're hollerin' and orderin' everybody around like you the massa himself. Nigger, you ain't nothin' but the white man's dog!
[Rawlins backhands Trip]
Rawlins: What are you? So full of hate you just want to go out and fight everybody, cause you've been whipped and chased by hounds. Well that might not be livin', but it sure as hell ain't dying. And dying's been what these white boys have been doing for going on three years now, dying by the thousands, dying for you, fool! I know cause I dug the graves. And all this time I'm diggin', I'm asking myself , "When? When, oh Lord, is it gonna be our time?" The time's comin' when we're gonna have to ante up. Ante up and kick in like men. Like men! You watch who you call a nigger. If there's any niggers around here, it's you. Smart-mouth, stupid-ass, swamp-runnin' nigger. If you ain't careful, that's all you ever gonna be.
1:26:05 Ain't nobody gonna win
Trip: I ain't fighting this war for you, sir.
Shaw: I see.
Trip: I mean, what's the point? Ain't nobody gonna win. It's just gonna go on and on.
Shaw: Can't go on forever.
Trip: Yeah, but ain't nobody gonna win, sir.
Shaw: Somebody's gonna win.
Trip: Who? I mean, you get to go on back to Boston, big house and all that. What about us? What do we get?
Shaw: Well, you won't get anything if we lose. So what do you want to do?
Trip: Don't know, sir.
Shaw: It stinks, I suppose.
Trip: Yeah, It stinks bad. And we all covered up in it too. I mean, ain't nobody clean. Be nice to get clean, though.
Shaw: How do we do that?
Trip: We ante up and kick in, sir. But I still don't want to carry your flag.
1:29:37 We'll be ready
Shaw: There's more to fighting than rest, sir. There's character. 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?
1:31:18 I have no fear
Sharts: [praying aloud] Tomorrow we go into battle, so, Lordy, let me fight with the rifle in one hand and Good Book in the other. So that if I should die at the muzzle of the rifle... die on water, or on land, I may know that YOU blessed Jesus Almighty are with me... and I have no fear. Amen.
Copyright (c) 2003, Todd Scurci and Denny Boyle, Undergraduates at Lehigh University.
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