Category Archives: Saint-Gaudens

In Memoriam


In this year of the film “Lincoln,” and the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, let’s be clear that freedom was never bestowed upon black Americans.

Remember the thousands upon thousands of black soldiers in all of our nation’s wars, from the Revolution forward. Remember the thousands who fought and died in our Civil War to claim their freedom and that of their people.

This is the Saint-Gaudens memorial on Boston Common to the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, just one among the black Union regiments. Contrary to the impression left by Hollywood, they were not utterly wiped out at Ft. Wagner. Their numbers restored, they took part in other battles.

The figure floating above the marching troops is the Angel of Death. Emancipation did not come with the stroke of a pen.


The first shot of the Civil War was fired 150 years ago today

A detail of the Saint-Gaudens memorial to the Mass. 54th Regiment and Col. Robert Gould Shaw, completed in 1897 (remember the film Glory?). It faces the State House on Beacon Hill. Actually this is from a maquette at his studio in Cornish, NH, part of a lovely estate run by the Park Service and def. worth a visit. The Boston monument is one of the most splendid pieces of public art in the country.

Storming Fort Wagner by Allison and Kurz, 1863


Currier & Ives, The Bombardment of Fort Sumter

150 years ago, today, the flag pictured above was taken down from Fort Sumter.  146 years ago today, it flew again over that same fort.  On that second occasion, Henry Ward Beecher offered these words:

On this solemn and joyful day, we again lift to the breeze our fathers’ flag, now, again, the banner of the United States, with the fervent prayer that God would crown it with honor, protect it from treason, and send it down to our children…. Terrible in battle, may it be beneficent in peace [and] as long as the sun endures, or the stars, may it wave over a nation neither enslaved nor enslaving…. We lift up our banner, and dedicate it to peace, Union, and liberty, now and forevermore.


I have an essay in this book about Edmonia Lewis, Robert Gould Shaw, Saint-Gaudens’ memorial, and Edward Bannister.