"They Say that 'Uncle Abe' is on the Verge of Lunacy"
By all measurements, 1862 was a disaster for Robert Gould Shaw.
The year 1862 could not have ended any worse for Captain Robert Gould Shaw of the Second Massachusetts Regiment. His regiment had fought in a number of engagements in the Shenandoah Valley before participating in the battles of Cedar Mountain and Antietam. Both battles resulted in the loss of a number of the regiment’s officers and Shaw’s close friends. They constituted a close-knit community of elite officers who shared ties with Harvard and some of Boston’s most prominent Brahmin families.
The trajectory of the war was not panning out as Shaw had hoped. The war caused a rift between Shaw and his parents over George McClellan’s military leadership and especially Lincoln’s announcement of a Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation following Antietam. While his parents and sisters welcomed the new policy, Shaw struggled to see what good it would do. His focus remained, first and foremost, on maintaining the battle-readiness of his company and on winning the war.
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