Interpreting Boston’s Second American Revolution

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 “Interpreting Boston’s Second American Revolution”

Civil War Memory’s Fall Peak

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.

Martin Millmore

54th Massachusetts Called to Duty Once Again

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 “54th Massachusetts Called to Duty Once Again”

Two Soldiers, Two Stories

Many of you may remember that this past school year I accompanied 35 students on a civil rights trip from Atlanta to Memphis. I was asked to accompany the instructor who organized it, but this year my school is requesting that I lead a trip for what we call Exploration Week, which takes place in March. It should come as no surprise that I am thinking of a Civil War trip for about 15 to 20 students – going small for the first year. What I have is little more than a sketchy outline of some of the sites that I want to visit, but they will likely fall between Gettysburg and Fredericksburg.  Continue reading “Two Soldiers, Two Stories”

John A. Andrew’s Abolitionism Through Whiggish Eyes

I am making my way through and thoroughly enjoying Henry Greenleaf Pearson’s, The Life of John A. Andrew, which was published in 1904. It’s nice not having to compete with multiple biographies of the Massachusetts governor and in this case Pearson’s biography is a different kind of beast altogether. It’s been a while since I read one published at the beginning of the twentieth century. Like many biographies published at this time this one has a strong Whiggish bent to it. Continue reading “John A. Andrew’s Abolitionism Through Whiggish Eyes”