Battle of Fort Wagner Facts, Details, and Timeline

July 18, 1863

Fort Wagner Battle facts, including dates, location, casualties, leaders, who won, and more interesting facts you might not know. This fact sheet provides a quick overview of the battle and is for kids doing research and students preparing for the AP U.S. History (APUSH) exam.

General Quincy Gillmore, Portrait

The Battle of Fort Wagner was part of General Quincy Gillmore’s plan to retake Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor and subdue the City of Charleston, South Carolina. Image Source: Wikipedia.


The Battle of Fort Wagner was a military engagement fought between the United States of America and the Confederate States of America on July 18, 1863, during the American Civil War.

Battle of Fort Wagner Quick Facts

  • Also Known As: The Battle of Fort Wagner is also called the Second Battle of Fort Wagner.
  • Date Started: The Battle of Fort Wagner started on July 18, 1863.
  • Date Ended: The fighting ended on July 18, 1863.
  • Location: The Battle of Fort Wagner took place on Morris Island in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.
  • Civil War Campaign: The battle was part of the Operations Against the Defenses of Charleston.
  • Who Won: The Confederacy won the Battle of Fort Wagner.

Battle of Fort Wagner, 54th Storming the Battery

This illustration depicts Union soldiers, including members of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, storming the walls of Fort Wagner on Morris Island, South Carolina, and engaging Confederate soldiers in hand-to-hand combat. Image Source: Library of Congress.

Interesting Facts About the Battle of Fort Wagner

  • The forces from the Union 10th Corps, (Department of the South), fought against Confederate forces from the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
  • The Union commander of the Army of the Department of the South during the Battle of Fort Wagner was Major General Quincy A. Gillmore.
  • The Confederate commander of the Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida during the Battle of Fort Wagner was General P. G. T. Beauregard.
  • On May 23, 1900, Congress awarded Sergeant William Carney the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the Battle of Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863. Although he did not receive the award until thirty-seven years after the fact, Carney was the first African American whose deeds merited the Medal of Honor. (On April 16, 1864, Seaman Robert Blake was the first black service member to physically receive the Medal of Honor.)
  • The acclaimed Hollywood feature film Glory immortalized the heroic deeds of the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry Regiment.

Commanders and Forces at the Battle of Fort Wagner

Principal Union Commanders

  • Major General Quincy Gillmore
  • Brigadier General Truman Seymour
  • Brigadier General George C. Strong
  • Col0nel Robert Gould Shaw
  • Colonel Haldimand S. Putnam
  • Brigadier General Thomas G. Stevenson

Principal Confederate Commanders

  • General P. G. T. Beauregard
  • Brigadier General William Taliaferro (pronounced “Tolliver”)
  • Brigadier General Johnson Hagood

Union Forces Engaged

  • 10th Corps, Department of the South

Confederate Forces Engaged

  • Department of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida

Battle of Fort Wagner Casualties and Statistics

Number of Union Soldiers Engaged

  • 5,000

Number of Confederate Soldiers Engaged

  • Roughly 1,800

Estimated Union Casualties

  • 1,515 (246 killed; 880 wounded; 389 missing/captured)

Estimated Confederate Casualties

  • 174 (36 killed; 133 wounded; 5 missing/captured)

Results of the Battle of Fort Wagner

  • The outcome of the Battle of Fort Wagner ended was a Confederate victory.
  • The Confederate victory at the Battle of Fort Wagner did not curb Gillmore’s quest to subdue the Rebel stronghold and subsequently capture Charleston.
  • Following eight more weeks of Union shelling, the Confederates abandoned the battery on September 6, 1863, leaving Morris Island to the Yankees.