WHEELING — The story of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment will be featured at the upcoming Ohio Valley Civil War Roundtable meeting next week.
Pete Chacalos, author, photographer, retired teacher and current member of the Ohio County School Board, will be the keynote speaker. His presentation is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Ohio County Public Library.
Chacalos is Vice President of the Ohio Valley Civil War Roundtable and recently published his first book – “Born of Rebellion: West Virginia and the Civil War”.
Chacalos said his Monday program will detail the events involved in raising Massachusetts’ 54th Regiment – the first all-black regiment raised in the Northern states and featured in the 1989 film “Glory.”
The film sparked his interest in the 54th Massachusetts Regiment.
“A lot of people think it was the first all-black regiment raised, but it wasn’t,” Chacalos said. He noted that others were first bred in Kansas, Louisiana and South Carolina.
And not all members of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment are from Massachusetts, he continued. The black population was not there, and many soldiers came from Ohio and other Midwestern states.
After the commitment of more than 180,000 black soldiers, a second regiment – the 55th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment – was formed.
Chacalos taught human anatomy and physiology for 34 years at WPHS and coached sports.
Even so, he said his “interest in the story was still there”.
The first time Chacalos went to Gettysburg rekindled his historical interest. He began to visit other battlefields.
Chacalos is a graduate of WPHS, West Virginia University and Ohio University.
He was a National Board Certified Teacher, an Ohio County Educator of the Year for the 2018-2019 school year, and a Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce Teacher of the Year.
Chacalos also serves on the board of the West Virginia Independence Hall Foundation and was recognized as a Hero in West Virginia History in 2022.
The Ohio Valley Civil War Roundtable meets monthly at the Ohio County Library, and the schedule for upcoming months will be announced in November, according to Chacalos.