After weighing a number of things I have decided to write about the history and memory of Robert Gould Shaw for my next book project. It is a project that will look closely at two very different individuals.
I guess we can add my home town of Boston to the list of cities facing questions about what to do with their Confederate monuments. A recent segment on Greater Boston about a Confederate monument/marker at Fort Warren in Boston Harbor, in which I was interviewed, has attracted the attention of the governor. Continue reading
Last week I was interviewed by WGBH’s Adam Reilly for a segment that aired this evening on Greater Boston about the Confederate marker on Georges Island in Boston Harbor. Historian Karen Cox also makes an appearance. I think we make a good team.
I was absolutely thrilled to get the call for this interview since Greater Boston is one of my favorite local news shows. Thanks again to Adam Reilly for this opportunity.
Are you coming to Boston this summer to enjoy the city’s rich historic sites? Most people rightfully associate the city with the American Revolution and the founding of this nation. What is often overlooked, however, are the many sites connected to the American Civil War and the history of the abolition movement. Continue reading
Today my wife and I spent a beautiful afternoon on the Common as part of the Boston Women’s March for American. We joined roughly 125,000 people for a rally and march through the downtown. I love walking around the Common and Public Gardens surrounded by its rich memorial/commemorative landscape. We were on the opposite end from the 54th Massachusetts Memorial, but you can clearly see the recently refurbished Soldiers and Sailors Monument in the pic below.
It was a great day to be a Bostonian and an American.
I am probably one of the few people who walks the streets of Boston looking for glimpses of its Civil War past, both historical and commemorative. It’s a neglected past. Sure, you can find groups that stop at the monument to the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, across from the state house, but you will be hard pressed to find much more even though the city and surrounding communities boast a rich Civil War commemorative landscape. Continue reading
Here is a pic of one of my favorite Civil War soldier monuments at Forest Hills Cemetery here in Boston. It’s about two miles from my home and as we are just about past the peak of the Fall foliage season it was the perfect day for a walk. Oh, and the temperature today hit 70 degrees. The sculptor of this particular monument – one of the earliest monuments to be dedicated after the war – is none other than Martin Millmore.
Update: I totally called it. The Confederate flag was intended to honor the men of the 54th Massachusetts and was not a pro-Confederate statement.
Late last night a Confederate flag was discovered displayed on the Shaw Memorial on Beacon Street across the street from the Massachusetts State House. The flag remained displayed for a couple of hours before police arrived. While it is unknown who placed the flag on the monument or for what purpose it does not appear to be a pro-Confederate flag message. The flag is clearly dangling from Colonel Shaw’s sword. It certainly does make for a powerful image.
Most people know the story of the 54th Massachusetts from the movie “Glory”. The movie’s narrative ends with the regiment’s failed assault at Battery Wagner, outside of Charleston, South Carolina in July 1863. What often goes unnoticed, however, is the crucial role the regiment – along with its sister regiment, the 55th Mass. – played during the immediate postwar period. Both regiments were stationed in South Carolina from April through August 1865. Their responsibilities included managing relationships between former slaves and owners to ensure the arrival of a new crop and safeguarding government buildings and supplies. Most importantly, the two regiments played a vital role in protecting former slaves from their former masters who hoped to rebuild white supremacy on a new foundation. Continue reading