Memorial Day, formerly more commonly known as Decoration Day, is today here in the U. S. While to many Americans today it is primarily a long weekend to relax while kicking off the summer season, I grew up in Gettysburg, where the bloodiest multi-day battle on American soil was fought, and where Memorial Day still retains its traditional meaning. In honor of Memorial Day, I am posting some memorials I have photographed here, along with transcriptions so that the names will be findable via search engines.
This blog post is part of a project called the Honor Roll Project that is run by Heather Wilkinson Rojo of the blog Nutfield Genealogy, where bloggers post photos and transcriptions of memorials at their own blogs and Heather compiles the posts into a list hosted at hers. I am also submitting copies of my relevant photos and transcriptions to the Lost Ancestors War Memorials project, hosted at their site, to maximize exposure. I first began photographing local memorials primarily to help increase the small U. S. memorial presence on the Lost Ancestors’ project.
I’ve arranged the memorials by town, with the towns in alphabetical order by the modern name of the town. Click on any photo to see a larger version of it.
Revolutionary War: Arlington (formerly Menotomy and West Cambridge), Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA
There are two memorial plaques to what we Americans call the Revolutionary War or American Revolution at Old Burying Ground in the town that is now known as Arlington. They are both on a single monument.
Here is a wider shot of the Old Burying Ground showing the full memorial from a distance. It is the tallest one visible.
One of the plaques is for soldiers from area towns who were killed at Menotomy (now Arlington) in the opening battle of the Revolution and were known to be buried in this Old Burying Ground. While Lexington and Concord are the famous towns now, there was also deadly fighting in Menotomy. There is an article on the the Menotomy section of the battle here. Based on the material used to create this memorial, I suspect that it was originally a freestanding memorial (shaped & placed like a gravestone) that was later moved to this monument.
___ AMERICAN SOLDIERS
KILLED AT MENOTOMY APR 19 1775
AND BURIED HERE
LIEUT JOHN BACON – NEEDHAM
ELIAS HAVEN – DEDHAM
WILLIAM FLINT – LYNN
BENJAMIN PEIRCE – SALEM
JONATHAN PARKER – NEEDHAM
The other plaque was erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) in 1941. Please note that: a) They did not necessarily die during the War; b) just because they were buried here, that doesn’t necessarily mean they were living here during the War or even that they died here; c) since this was belatedly erected and done via DAR, it was likely compiled using DAR’s records, which would mean that anyone on the plaque probably has a DAR file researchers could utilize but also that there may be soldiers buried here who weren’t in DAR records and/or that research since 1941 may have changed DAR’s opinion on any particular person on the plaque. Also keep in mind that by DAR’s definition, the people that are labelled “Patriot” on the plaque did supporting things rather than officially being in the military.
KNOWN TO BE
BURIED IN THIS CEMETERY
JOHN ADAMS * THOMAS HADLEY
JOSEPH ADAMS * ELIAS HAVEN
WILLIAM ADAMS * JOHN HILL
JOHN BACON * THOMAS HILL
JOSEPH BALCH * JOSEPH LOCKE
JOSEPH BELKNAP, JR. * AMOS MILLS
NATHANIEL CHADWICK * JONATHAN PARKER
NATHAN CHAMBERLIN * BENJAMIN PEIRCE
AMMI CUTTER * SOLOMON PEIRCE
AMMI CUTTER, JR. * JAMES PERRY
SAMUEL CUTTER * ABEDNECO RAMSDELL
WILLIAM CUTTER * JEDUTHAN WELLINGTON
WILLIAM DICKSON * SAMUEL WHITTEMORE
WILLIAM FLINT * JOHN WINSHIP
EPHRAIM FROST * JASON RUSSELL, PATRIOT
SAMUEL FROST * JASON WINSHIP, PATRIOT
STEPHEN FROST * JABEZ WYMAN, PATRIOT
MENOTOMY CHAPTER DAUGHTERS
OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION
There is also supposed to be a memorial to the Loyalists in the War, but I have searched the entire cemetery and been unable to locate it. This cemetery has had problems with vandalism and I suspect someone may have stolen it.
The Jason Russell house, where most of the 19 April 1775 fighting in Menotomy occurred, is a few blocks from the Old Burying Ground. Here is the house:
Here is the most modern sign by the house:
Jason Russell House 1740
Site of the bloodiest fighting between the
Minutemen and the Redcoats on the
first day of the American Revolution
April 19, 1775
The Arlington Historical Society
Civil War: Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, USA
The 54th Massachusetts Regiment was the first officially commissioned African-American unit in the Civil War. Many Americans know it primarily if not totally via the partially historically accurate film Glory. Many people in the 54th lost their lives at the Battle of Fort Wagner on 18 July 1863. This monument is dedicated to the 54th in general and specifically to those that lost their lives at the Battle of Fort Wagner. The sculpture, seen below, was done by the famous sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. It took him 14 years to complete. He took his time making each face unique to clearly show individuals. It was dedicated on 31 May 1897 on Beacon Street, where the 54th had marched out of Boston. The late Robert Gould Shaw’s mother Sarah Shaw, an ardent abolitionist who had been part of the driving force behind Shaw taking command of the unit, was at the unveiling and praised the monument to Saint-Gaudens as a great tribute to her son and to her beloved city, Boston. Many of the living veterans of the 54th returned to Boston for the dedication. The sculpture part of the memorial faces the Massachusetts State House, which is on the other side of Beacon Street from it.
Underneath the sculpture is an inscription in memory of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who is shown here on the horse. My photo of it did not turn out very well.
The rest of the inscriptions are on the back, facing Boston Commons in the opposite direction. The names of the other white officers who died at the Battle of Fort Wagner are by the wreaths in the below photo.
CABOT JACKSON RUSSEL * CAPTAIN
WILLIAM HARRIS SIMPKINS * CAPTAIN
EDWARD LEWIS STEVENS * 1ST LIEUTENANT
DAVID REID * 1ST LIEUTENANT
FREDERICK HEDGE WEBSTER * 2ND LIEUTENANT
The names of the African-American soldiers who died at the Battle of Fort Wagner are in the main inscription by the lion’s heads.
THE MEMORY OF THE JUST IS BLESSED
HENRY ALBERT * THOMAS R. AMPLEY * THOMAS BOWMAN * WILLIAM BRADY
ABRAHAM BROWN * JAMES H. BUCHANAN * HENRY F. BURGHARDT * ELISHA BURKETT
JASON CHAMPLIN * ANDREW CLARK * LEWIS CLARK * HENRY CRAIG
JOSEPHUS CURRY * EDWARD DARKS * HENRY DENNIS * WILLIAM EDGERLY
ALBERT EVANS * WILLIAM S. EVERSON * SAMUEL FORD * RICHARD M. FOSTER * CHARLES S. GAMRELL * LEWIS C. GREEN
JOHN HALL * WILLIAM HENRY HARRISON II * EDWARD HINES * BENJAMIN HOGAN * CHARLES M. HOLLOWAY * GEORGE JACKSON
JAMES P. JOHNSON * JOHN H. JOHNSON * DANIEL A. KELLEY * HENRY KING * CYRUS KRUNKLETON * AUGUSTUS LEWIS
THOMAS LLOYD * WILLIAM LLOYD * LEWIS J. LOCARD * FRANCIS LOWE * ROBERT MCJOHNSON * JOHN MILLER
JAMES H. MILLS * WILLIAM H. MORRIS * CHARLES E. NELSON * STEPHEN NEWTON * HARRISON PIERCE
CORNELIUS PRICE * THOMAS PETER RIGGS * DAVID R. ROPER * ANTHONY SCHENCK * THOMAS SHELDON
WILLIAM J. SMITH * SAMUEL SUFSHAY * JOHN TANNER * WILLIAM THOMAS * CHARLES VAN ALLEN
GEORGE VANDERPOOL * CORNELIUS WATSON * EDWARD WILLIAMS * FRANKLIN WILLIS
JOSEPH D. WILSON * WILLIAM WILSON * JOHN W. WINSLOW
Another shot of this memorial.
Here is the descriptive plaque that is by the memorial.
And here is a plaque on Saint-Gaudens that is also by the memorial.
The 54th’s flag-bearer, Sergeant William Carney, was wounded three times in his duties but survived the war. He was subsequently the first African-American awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
A brisk but pleasant walk from the Boston Commons takes one to the Boston Public Library. In the main staircase of the library’s original building, there are monuments to two regiments from Massachusetts, the 20th Massachusetts Infantry and the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry. The 20th was known as the “Harvard Regiment” due to the high percentage of men in it who were associated with Harvard University. Two photos of the memorial to the 20th are featured below, followed by one photo of the memorial to the 2nd. (I am not transcribing these memorials.)
Revolutionary War: Cambridge (originally Newtown/Newtowne), Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA
The Cambridge Historical Commission has put up a good number of plaques around Cambridge, including a few on the fence at Cambridge’s Old Burying Ground, which is located in what is now Harvard Square. While their graves are unmarked, the Cambridge Historical Commission put up a plaque commemorating the Revolutionary War service of two African-Americans buried there.
BLACK SOLDIERS OF THE CONTINENTAL ARMY
CATO STEDMAN AND NEPTUNE FROST
ARE BURIED IN THIS GROUND
Christ Church is the Anglican Church in the neighborhood and is one of two churches adjacent to the Old Burying Ground. The church was where those that wanted to curry favor with the Crown worshipped before the American Revolution. Consequently, many of them were Loyalists who fled with the Crown. There is a sign about the Revolution on the church’s front wall:
CHRIST CHURCH was established in 1759
to serve Cambridge’s Anglican community,
including students at Harvard College.
Peter Harrison, the preeminent architect of his day,
designed this church, King’s Chapel in Boston, and
Touro Synagogue in Newport, North America’s first synagogue.
The Rev. East Apthorp presided at the
first service, 15 October 1761.
Most of the congregation fled to Boston in 1774
and left with the British on Evacuation Day,
17 March 1776. The vacant church sheltered
during the summer and fall of 1775.
Gen. George and Martha Washington
worshipped here 31 December 1775, as the
Continental Army under his command
laid siege to Boston.
The exterior of Christ Church:
[Correction, June 2013: When I first wrote this post I said the exterior “is more recent than the Revolution, though it is on the spot where the original church was located.” This is based on information I had read that turns out to be somewhat incorrect. During Cambridge Open Archives 2013 in June 2013, I toured Christ Church and met its archivist and another staff member. They said that the current church was active as a house of worship before the Revolution although the final construction work on the church did not finish until after the Revolution, due to much of the congregation fleeing Cambridge and to the general upheaval the Revolutionary War caused.]
Though the interior of the church is usually closed to non-congregants, I happened to go by one day when it was open:
Brattle Street in Cambridge is a short walk from the Old Burying Ground and Christ Church. It was known as “Tory Row” because so many people on it were Loyalists to the Crown. Many of them initially thought they would be able to quickly return home and simply left their homes unattended, including the family that was residing in what is now known as Longfellow House/Washington’s Headquarters on Brattle Street, which became General Washington’s Boston Headquarters and later the home of poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and is now run by the National Park Service. A Cambridge Historical Commission plaque on Brattle Street commemorates “Tory Row”:
WEALTHY FAMILIES LOYAL TO THE CROWN
LIVED ALONG BRATTLE STREET
BEFORE THE REVOLUTION
Revolutionary War: Somerville (then part of Charlestown), Middlesex County, Massachusetts
This marker is now beside the curb on Elm Street in West Somerville, between Porter Square and Davis Square. At the time this “sharp fight occurred,” Somerville was part of Charlestown. The Battle of April 19, 1775: In Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Arlington, Cambridge, Somerville and Charlestown, Massachusetts, written by Frank Warren Coburn and published in 1912, states that the marker was already there then, but unfortunately does not list the names of the British who were killed here, only that “quite a number of Britons” were killed there by American sharpshooters and buried where they fell; you can read the page here. (Unlike the other photos in this post, this photo was taken with my cellphone.)
A SHARP FIGHT OCCURRED HERE,
BETWEEN THE PATRIOTS AND THE BRITISH,
APRIL 19, 1775.
THIS MARKS BRITISH SOLDIERS’ GRAVES.
Massachusetts: Modern Memorial Day Commemoration
As anywhere else, people here continue to commemorate Memorial Day. This year, a group called the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund placed 33,000 flags on Boston Commons to honor those from Massachusetts that had been killed in wars from the Civil War to the present. They termed their project a Flag Garden. A few photos follow from this commemoration on Boston Commons the weekend of Memorial Day 2013.
This shot is looking from the top of the hill down into the Commons.
This shot is looking from the bottom of the hill up towards the Civil War memorial that tops the hill on the Commons.
This shot looks from the flags towards adjacent downtown Boston.
Here is a photo of the signs explaining the project.