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Reminiscences of the Civil War by Burt Wilder, Surgeon
In 1863, Massachusetts formed the 54th regiment specifically to recruit free men of color and newly-freed slaves to fight in the Civil War. The response was so great that an additional regiment for black soldiers was formed, the 55th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Burt Wilder was a white officer and surgeon for the 55th. He was known anti-slavery views and for his great respect for the men of his regiment. As a scientist, he spent his life actively refuting the racist narratives that persisted after the war. His wartime diaries were later published as Practicing Medicine in a Black Regiment: The Civil War Diary of Burt G. Wilder, 55th Massachusetts. This article from the Brookline Chronicle is an account of his speech at Brookline Town Hall on May 30, 1914.