In the interest of blatant self-promotion, I wanted to share widely and boost the signal of an informal project that I’m very happy to have become involved with. A little earlier this year on Memorial Day Weekend, long-time friend and historian Patrick Browne (he of the Historical Digression blog, which you really need to follow if you have interest in history) shared a batch of images he’d taken of Civil War monuments in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on Facebook, and noted the following:
“This weekend, take a minute or two to walk across your town common or city park to go look at that old monument that everyone passes by. If you have youngsters, bring them along, read the inscription. Once, folks with living memories of those named on these monuments stood there and remembered.”
This statement served as something of a clarion call. Immediately thereafter, along with another friend– Bill Collins– I joined him in traveling around the state, finding the many monuments dedicated to the veterans and the fallen of the War of the Rebellion, doing research and adding some historical context to these silent sentinels, and sharing them widely out of his album.
Over the course of just a few weeks, the project took form. A little math determined that there were better than 350 towns in the Commonwealth, and most had some form of physical remembrance to the Late Unpleasantness. We decided to try to capture all of them. With Patrick and Bill working in the east and center of the state, and me canvassing the west and meeting them in the center, over the course of just a few weeks we’ve been able to document over a hundred of the monuments. With the expansion of the numbers beyond a scant few dozen, Patrick suggested the creation of a community page on Facebook to share our collective efforts broadly. This has now been built, and we’re adding new images from our backlog essentially daily.
We still have a long way to go to cover the entirety of the state– we’ve visited about 40% of the towns, or confirmed that in the case of a few, they have no remembrance for various reasons (very small towns, towns that didn’t exist independently during the war and are thus served by other towns’ monuments, and in the case of one town Bill knew of, they sent none of their own sons to the war). Only about half of our findings have yet been shared.
So, if you have interest in history (and really, if you don’t, I’d wonder why you’re on my tiny little blog outpost), I’d like to welcome you to ‘Like’ our project page on Facebook, located here, and follow along with us as we take a tour through how the War of the Rebellion was being remembered by our forefathers, and today. Let’s bring some sense of the past into our common culture yet again. I think we owe it to those who served to defend the Union.
Massachusetts Civil War Monuments Project on Facebook