It should come as no surprise that one of my biggest concerns upon moving to Boston in 2011 was that I would be without a community of fellow Civil War enthusiasts and few places to visit related to the war. After all, I just assumed most Bostonians have always been more interested in that earlier squabble involving something about independence and the British.
There is a certain truth to this if you’ve ever spent time here. The Freedom Trail largely marks sites related to the American Revolution. You will find enthusiastic crowds at reenactments of the Boston Massacre and Boston Tea Party as well as the battles of Lexington and Concord. In short, tourists come looking to connect with the eighteenth century. Apart from the Shaw Memorial on Beacon Street, the Civil War and its memory is largely invisible. It doesn’t take much effort, however, to bring this world back into focus. Having spent two years exploring these sites I can safely say that Boston’s Civil War memory rivals anything you will find in the South and it offers a strong counter-narrative to the Lost Cause and the belief that Americans north and south were largely reconciled by the turn of the twentieth century.
On Sunday I encourage you to join me for a casual discussion about sites related to Boston’s Civil War memory on Georges Island at Boston Harbor Islands (includes Fort Warren). The heat wave will have passed and it promises to be a beautiful day. My wife and I have never visited this site so we are very much looking forward to it. Thanks to the National Park Service for the invitation to speak.