Colonel Robert Gould Shaw

Of the thousands of monuments of granite and bronze erected in homage to the soldiers of the Civil War — those symbolic guardians of memory on battlefields, town squares and courthouse lawns — perhaps the best known is sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s magnificent tribute to the 54th Massachusetts Infantry and their commander, Robert Gould Shaw. Sitting ramrod-straight in the saddle, sword in hand and eyes fixed on an inescapable destiny, the youthful colonel is memorialized as the embodiment of idealistic service, and willing sacrifice. John Greenleaf Whittier thought him “as beautiful and awful as an angel of God come down to lead the host of freedom to victory,” while the twentieth-century poet Robert Lowell wrote, “He rejoices in man’s lovely, peculiar power to choose life and die.”


1 year ago on 07/13/13 at 01:45pm