Tension Between Union & Reconciliation

General-Lee-painting-zach-franzenSpent a few hours earlier today at the Massachusetts Historical Society looking at letters and diaries of Northern soldiers who fought at the Crater. As happens so often during the research process what turned out to be the most interesting discovery was unrelated to my immediate project. After reading his wartime letters I decided to go through the G.A.R. materials in the William M. Olin collection. Included is the John E. Gilman Camp’s Record Book that Olin joined after the war.

I don’t have any information on the backstory, but apparently in 1936 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology accepted a portrait of Robert E. Lee. This did not sit well with the veterans in the Gilman Camp and I suspect they were not alone. Continue reading “Tension Between Union & Reconciliation”

“To Pause And Remember All They Gave”

Note: This post is for my friend, Patrick Young, who constantly reminds me that for most everything I write about on this site there is an immigrants’ perspective. Thanks, Pat.

Tollgate Cemetery MonumentYesterday morning I took a slightly different jogging route through my neighborhood and stumbled on a small neglected cemetery. The Toll Gate Cemetery is located just off Hyde Park Avenue, just a block from the Forrest Hills T Station in Jamaica Plain. It is nestled between the street and tracks and is very easy to miss. Since I can’t resist old cemeteries I decided to check it out hoping that I might stumble on a few Civil War soldiers. I did. Continue reading ““To Pause And Remember All They Gave””

Civil War Boston for Bostonians

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.

Civil War Monitor Top 10
Civil War Monitor Top 10 (1-5)
Civil War Monitor Top 10
Civil War Monitor Top 10 (6-10)

Massachusetts at the Crater

Massachusetts Reunion at Crater
57th Massachusetts at the Crater with William Mahone at center (1887)

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 “Massachusetts at the Crater”

Civil War Memory Over the Charles River

Anderson Memorial BridgeI 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.