The current issue of The Civil War Monitor includes my top 10 list of Civil War-related sites in and around Boston. I fully realize that this is a subjective choice, but I do hope it reveals to Bostonians and visitors that the city’s Civil War commemorative landscape is worth exploring along with its rich history from the Revolution. Thanks to Terry Johnston for the opportunity to share a bit of the history from my new home. Click here for your subscription to the CWM.
One of the things that I regret about my book on the Crater is that I failed to spend sufficient time exploring Union accounts of the battle, both during and, especially, after the war. Given that I wrote the book while living in Virginia I was always primarily interested in Confederate accounts (wartime and postwar) and what they had to say about issues related to slavery and race. Continue reading
I suspect that for the vast majority of Bostonians and tourists, the city’s history is indelibly stamped (no pun intended) with the events of the American Revolution. I, on the other hand, see the American Civil War everywhere or signs of how Bostonians chose to remember their Civil War. We’ve got some pretty impressive sites such as Harvard’s Memorial Hall and, of course, Saint Gaudens’s Robert Gould Shaw Memorial (54th), but there are also more obscure reminders that are likely missed by most people.
The Anderson Memorial Bridge over the Charles River is one such example. The bridge was built by Larz Anderson as a memorial to his father, Nicholas Longworth Anderson, who fought through and survived the war. Anderson rose from the rank of private to Col. of the 6th Ohio Volunteer Infantry to Brevet Major General of Volunteers. He fought in western Virginia early in the war and saw action in most of the major battles of the Western Theatre, including Stones River and Chickamauga.
The bridge was completed in 1915.
I am working on finalizing a list of my top 10 favorite Civil War-related sites here in Boston for an upcoming issue of The Civil War Monitor. I’ve given a couple of talks in the area about how Bostonians commemorated and remembered the Civil War. It’s an interesting challenge given the extent to which the American Revolution dominates popular memory and heritage tourism. Boston’s commemorative landscape rivals any southern city and reflects the direct impact that the war and its outcome had on the region. Most of the sites listed below can easily be included in a family’s vacation itinerary.
- Robert Gould Shaw Memorial and Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument (the Boston Common)
- African Meeting House
- Grand Army of the Republic Hall in Lynn, MA
- Memorial Hall at Harvard University
- Mount Auburn Cemetery
- Tremont Temple
- Faneuil Hall
- Public Gardens (statues of Edward Everett Hale, Wendell Phillips, Thomas Cass, William Ellery Channing, and Charles Sumner and Emancipation/Lincoln statue)
- Fort Warren
- Governor Andrew House
The list is a work in progress so feel free to offer suggestions.
One of the places that I still need to visit in my neighborhood is the Forbes House in Milton. In the 1920s the home was owned by Mary Bowditch Forbes, who amassed a sizable collection of Civil War and Lincoln related memorabilia. The family were strong Unionists during the 1860s and were responsible for the construction of a number of gunboats and the organization of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, Company A.
In 1924 Mary welcomed local G.A.R. members to the house to unveil an exact replica of Lincoln’s boyhood home. The film portion of the video begins at the 2:40 mark. It’s well worth your time. You will even notice an African-American G.A.R. member, which I know will warm the heart of Barbara Gannon. Enjoy.