Boston in Suffolk County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)
Memorial to Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th Regiment
Omnia Relinqvit / Servare Rempvblicam
[Underneath the relief]:
Colonel of the Fifty Fourth Regiment of Massachusetts Infantry
born in Boston 10 October MDCCCXXXVII
Killed while leading the assault on Fort Wagner
South Carolina 18 July MDCCCLXIII
[Underneath this is a verse from James Russel Lowell's poem "Memoriae Positum"]:
Right in the van, on the red rampart's slippery swell,
With heart that beat a charge he fell
Foeward as fits a man;
but the high soul burns on to light men's feet
where death for noble ends makes dying sweet
[On the back of the frame of the tablet. The inscription was composed by Charles W. Eliot, then president of Harvard University]:
To the Fifty Fourth of Massachusetts Regiment Infantry
The White Officers taking life and honor in their hands cast in their lot with the men of a despised race unproved in war and risked death as inciters of a servile insurrection if taken prisoners - besides encountering all the common perils of camp march and battle.
The black rank and file volunteered when disaster clouded the Union cause - served without pay for eighteen months till given that of white
Together they gave to the nation and the world undying proof that Americans of African descent possess the pride, courage and devotion of the patriot soldier. One hundred and eighty thousand such Americans enlisted under the Union flag in MDCCCLXIII - MDCCCLXV
[Underneath on the back; in 1897 were inscribed the names of the other five officers killed in battle. Of these, only Russel and Simpkins died at Fort Wagner]:
Cabot Jackson Russel, Captain • William Harris Simpkins, Captain • Edward Lewis Stevens, 1st Lieutenant • David Reid, 1st Lieutenant • Frederick Hedge Webster, 2nd Lieutenant
[Under these names is an extract from the address given by Governor Andrew on the departure of the regiment]:
I know not my commander where in all human history to any given thousand men in arms there has been committed a work at once so proud, so precious, so full of hope and glory as the work committed to you.
[Under Governor Andrew's address, are inscribed 62 names of those soldiers from the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment who died during the assault on Fort Wagner. They were added in 1982. Above these names is inscribed]:
The Memory of the Just is Blessed
O fair haired northern hero with thy guard of dusky hue up from the field of battle rise to the last review.
[On the marble at the other end of the terrace the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson]:
Stainless soldier on the walls knowing this and knows no more whoever fights whoever falls justice conquers evermore.
Location. 42° 21.455′ N, 71° 3.8′ W. Marker is in Boston, Massachusetts, in Suffolk County. Marker is at the intersection of Beacon Street and Park Street, on the right when traveling east on Beacon Street. Touch for map. Marker is at the north corner of Boston Common, directly across Beacon Street from the Massachusetts State House. Marker is in this post office area: Boston MA 02108, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Monument (a few steps from this marker); The Sculptor (a few steps from this marker); Arrival of the Frigate Arbella (within shouting distance of this marker); Mary Dyer (within shouting distance of this marker); John Hancock Residence (about Huguenots, Women, and Tories (about 300 feet away); Colonial Craftsmen (about 300 feet away); Seventeenth Century Burials (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Boston.
More about this marker. A nearby marker describes the monument and its restoration in the early 1980s. It states:
The Shaw-54th Regiment Memorial honors Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and members of the 54th Massachusetts regiment who died in the assault on Fort Wagner, July 18, 1863. The 54th was the first regiment of Black volunteers from the North to fight in the Civil War. On the back of the monument are inscribed the names of the members of the 54th who died with Colonel Shaw in the cause of freedom and union. The monument was erected through private donations and given to the city of Boston in 1897. It became part of Boston African-American National Historic Site in 1980.
Funds contributed from across the United States made possible its restoration in 1982-1984.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Other monuments placed to honor the 54th and 55th Massachusetts
Also see . . .
1. Boston African American National Historic Site. Background information re: Boston's Black community, the abolition movement, the Shaw Memorial, etc. (Submitted on December 23, 2007, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. National Gallery of Art. Saint-Gaudens' sculpture and its restoration. (Submitted on December 23, 2007, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
3. Robert Gould Shaw’s Gruesome Task. Part of the New York Times’ Disunion series, Ronald Coddington’s article (August 12, 2012) traces death’s impacts from the Battle of Cedar Mountain. (Submitted on August 13, 2012.)
1. Omnia Relinqvit / Servare Rempvblicam
is a motto reflecting the ethic of selfless service. From latin it means, "He relinquished everything to save the Republic."
— Submitted April 2, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.
Additional keywords. U.S. Colored Troops; USCT; Auguste Saint-Gaudens
Categories. • Abolition & Underground RR • African Americans • Heroes • Landmarks • Military • War, US Civil •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on December 23, 2007, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 8,326 times since then and 160 times this year. Last updated on June 23, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. Photos: 1. submitted on April 4, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. 2. submitted on May 23, 2009, by Bill Coughlin of North Arlington, New Jersey. 3. submitted on April 4, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. 4. submitted on December 23, 2007, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 5. submitted on December 30, 2007, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 6. submitted on April 4, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. 7. submitted on December 23, 2007, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 8. submitted on April 4, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia. 9, 10, 11. submitted on December 23, 2007, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. 12, 13. submitted on July 8, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Craig Swain was the editor who published this page.