After the July 11 assault on Fort Wagner failed, Gillmore reinforced his beachhead on Morris Island.
At dusk July 18, Gillmore launched an attack spearheaded by the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, a black regiment. The unit's colonel, Robert Gould Shaw, was killed.
Members of the brigade scaled the parapet but after brutal hand-to-hand combat were driven out with heavy casualties.
The Federals resorted to siege operations to reduce the fort.
This was the fourth time in the war that colored troops played a crucial combat role, proving to skeptics that they would fight bravely if only given the chance.
Result(s): Confederate victory
Location: City of Charleston
Campaign: Operations against Defenses of Charleston (1863) next battle in campaign previous battle in campaign
Date(s): July 18-September 7, 1863
Principal Commanders: Major General Quincy Gillmore [US]; General P.G.T. Beauregard [CS]
Forces Engaged: 6,800 total (US 5,000; CS 1,800)
Estimated Casualties: 1,689 total (US 1,515; CS 174)