The Civil War Monument Task Force received $12,500 from the Massachusetts State Historical Records Advisory Board to support the recasting and replacement of the engraved name plaque on the Civil War Soldier’s Monument.
The grant award will fund the update of the engraved tablet to honor Concord’s 49th fallen soldier, Private George Washington Dugan of the famed 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the first all-black regiment in the north made famous by the movie Glory.
The CWMTF applied for funding at the beginning of January after being tasked by the Select Board to advise about placing one or more additional names, including Dugan’s, on the tablet of the Civil War Soldiers’ Memorial.
The task force was also charged with identifying both costs and sources of funding for the project and the preservation and conservation of the monument.
The tablet now lists 48 names. Only those that died in the war or by reason of wounds received or disease contracted in the service, and died before March 19, 1866 were listed on the tablet.
Before 1932, Dugan’s official designation was missing. However, in 1932, the Adjutant General’s office in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts changed his status from “missing July 18, 1863, after an assault on Fort Wagner, S.C.” to “supposed killed.” Without a date of death, Private Dugan was not eligible to be on the tablet. The change of status in 1932 allowed the correction of an unintentional wrong.
Adding Private Dugan’s name and regiment creates a meaningful impact in 2023. The addition allows the only Black man from Concord to enlist in the Civil War to be memorialized alongside the other men that found a birthplace, home, or grave in Concord who also made the ultimate sacrifice.
Notably, the monument is a teaching tool that will be even more important to our cultural heritage with the new tablet. The new plaque on the Civil War Soldiers’ Monument will educate residents, tourists, and school groups who frequently pause in Monument Square about a social justice issue. Private Dugan fought for equality. Adding his name means what he fought for will not be forgotten.
Although the grant will help update the monument’s tablet, an additional part of the project is to preserve and conserve the 49 ½ foot tall granite monument. The obelisk has endured New England winters in Monument Square for 155 years. The joints were repointed in 1965. Alas, there has been no other preservation or conservation. Today, we need to address more than a century of staining and soiling from biologicals, carbon, and minerals on the obelisk. Therefore, the CWMTF is also seeking Community Preservation Act funding for the second part of the charge to preserve and conserve the obelisk and the other bronze tablet.
To learn more, visit the Civil War Monument Task Force website: https://www.concordma.gov/3149/Civil-War-Monument-Task-Force