“When we look at this grand memorial, we see soldiers looking to the front, marching solidly and straight ahead on a perpetual campaign for righteousness led by their brave colonel. So let us too follow these heroes.”—General Colin Powell
Restored in 2021 by the Partnership to Renew the Memorial, Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s The Robert Gould Shaw – 54th Regiment Memorial proudly stands on Boston Common as a powerful testament to the cost of the freedom and the true meaning of the Civil War.
Following the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863, President Abraham Lincoln called for the raising of African American regiments. Massachusetts Governor John Andrew quickly answered Lincoln’s call and began forming the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, one of the first Black fighting units to serve in the Civil War. Through their heroic, yet tragic, assault on Fort Wagner, South Carolina in July 1863, the 54th helped inspire the enlistment of more than 180,000 Black men, giving the nation the boost in morale and manpower that proved essential to the victory of the United States and the destruction of slavery throughout the country.
Witness to History explores the history, legacy, and contemporary relevance of the 54th Regiment and the memorial which honors its service and sacrifice in our ongoing national story. Explore galleries relating to the soldiers of the 54th, their service, their supporters, and the creation and the legacy of the Memorial to them. Read about the ongoing work to restore the Memorial and the events surrounding the Memorial’s continuing legacy and meaning.
National Rededication Ceremony on June 1, 2022
Thank you for participating!
Watch “Those Heroes Who Healed the Nation,” a song commissioned by the Partnership to Renew the Shaw to commemorate the National Rededication of the Robert Gould Shaw and 54th Massachusetts Regiment Memorial.
Service, Honor, Legacy: Stories of the 54th
The Partnership to Renew the Shaw 54th Memorial
Faces of the 54th: Online Database – Are you a Descendant?
The National Park Service has compiled an online database of the 54th Regiment soldiers and officers as part of their “Faces of the 54th” project. If you are a descendant of a member of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, fill out the form here. Read the Bay State Banner article about the project.
Would you like to contribute to the Witness to History galleries?
If you or your institution would like to contribute to the Witness to History galleries, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or BOAF_Mail@nps.gov.