photo by Caity Stuart
The monument for the 54th Massachusetts stands on the edge of Boston Common, directly across from the Massachusetts State House. Sculpted by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, it was installed in 1894.
There’s no convenient place to park to view the monument, which we only discovered after circling Boston Common once around, so we had to nuzzle up to the curb as close as we could and grab a quick snapshot. It was shortly after 9:00 p.m., so traffic along Beacon Street was quiet enough to let us pull over without clogging up traffic.
This was the spot that the men of the 54th Massachusetts assembled to march off to war—their colonel, Robert Gould Shaw, leading the way. They headed off to war in May of 1863, so the weather was much warmer than it was now, with the temperature just barely able to push itself above freezing. This felt like Boston, historical similarity notwithstanding.
There’s something fitting about seeing the monument in the dark, something metaphoric about “dark days of war” and the dark times that lay ahead for the fabled regiment. But this is Beacon Hill, after all, and that has metaphoric power, too, considering the example these men set during their service in the war. There was patriot fever in the air in Boston when the men of the 54th marched off to war.
With the Super Bowl coming up on Sunday, there is again plenty of Patriots fever in the air.
The stakes, compared to those faced by the 54th, hardly matter.