American Rhetoric: Movie Speech

"Glory" (1989)


General George Crockett Strong Discusses the Strategic Importance of Fort Wagner

Audio mp3 delivered by Jay O. Sanders


General Strong: No one will ever take Charleston without first silencing the forts which protect its harbor.

And the first one that must be taken is that -- Fort Wagner.

Wagner mounts a ten-inch Columbiad, three smoothbore thirty-two pounders, a forty-two pound Carronade, a ten-inch Coast Mortar and four twelve-pound Howitzers -- plus a garrison of about a thousand men. As many of you gentlemen may be aware, for the last four days our navy has weakened Wagner with a constant barrage. Headquarters has determined a time for our attack. We will proceed with a direct frontal assault tomorrow at dusk.

The problem, gentlemen, is the approach.

  The ocean and the marsh leave only a narrow strip of sand, a natural defile through which we can only send one regiment at a time. Now our best hope is that leading regiment can keep the Rebs occupied long enough for reinforcements to exploit the breach. Needless to say, casualties in the leading regiment may be extreme.

  Colonel Shaw: General Strong, the 54th Massachusetts requests the honor of leading the attack on Fort Wagner.

  General Strong: It's Colonel Shaw, isn't it?

Colonel Shaw: Yes, sir.

General Strong: You and your men haven't slept for two days.

Colonel Shaw: That's right, sir.

General Strong: You think they have the strength to lead this charge?

  Colonel 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?

George Crockett Strong

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