Kevin Jarre, Lincoln Kirstein
Donovan Leitch Jr.
During the American Civil War, Captain (armed forces) Robert Gould Shaw, injured at Battle of Antietam, is sent home to Boston on medical leave. Shaw accepts a promotion to Colonel (United States) commanding the 54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, one of the first all-black regiments in the Union Army. He asks his friend, Cabot Forbes, to serve as his second in command, with the rank of major. Their first volunteer is another friend, Thomas Searles, a bookish, free African American. Other recruits include John Rawlins, Jupiter Sharts, Silas Tripp, and a muteness teenage drummer boy.