Faithful Unto Death: Concord honors Black Civil War soldier 160 years later (Photo Gallery)
By Oliver Longo
July 17, 2023
Concord residents gathered in Monument Square on Saturday in celebration of the life and service of Concord-born Black Civil War soldier George Washington Dugan, 160 years after his death.
A procession led by 54th Regiment reenactors, the Uxbridge Phife and Drum and the National Guard, brought attendees to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery where a monument in Dugan’s name was unveiled and he was given an official burial with full military honors.
Historian Beth van Duzer, who was responsible for the process of uncovering George Washington Dugan’s history, described him as “a general favorite of the Concord people.” He was a free Black man, land owner, worker for the town, voter and taxpayer, as well as the only native Black man from Concord to fight in the Civil War. After enlisting in the all-Black 54th Regiment, Dugan was declared “lost and never accounted for” following the assault on Fort Wagner in 1863.
After sacrificing his life for the country, Dugan’s name was left off of the Civil War monument in the center of Concord. Later on, after the monument was erected, Dugan’s status was amended to “killed in action” and as of this weekend, his legacy is now solidified and preserved.
In his introductory remarks, Concord Historian and Town Guide Joe Palumbo said “George Washington Dugan has never been properly honored or memorialized. That changes today.”
Historian Marvin Alonso Greer spoke at Monument Square on the history of Dugan and the role that Black soldiers played in the Civil War. Black soldiers, in general, were not paid equally in comparison to their white peers, and George Washington Dugan was never paid any amount for his service in the war.
In Greer’s words, they fought for a country that would not fight for them.
After remarks by Sgt. Matthew Ahearn and a performance of “Oh, Freedom” by Merle Perkins of Boston Public Schools, the unveiling of Dugan’s monument at Sleepy Hollow was complete with military tradition, musket shots, taps blown and prayers from Deputy State Chaplain Major James M. Hairston.
Marvin Alonso Greer ended his address by asking, “What kind of ancestor will you be? Will you vote? Will you help preserve your history?” The journey towards freedom is continuous, even today, and Greer charged listeners to cast off the “shackles of hatred and division” and take action.
Additionally hosted during the weekend were lectures and discussions led by Marvin Alonso Greer, a showing of the 1989 film “Glory” at the Umbrella Arts Center, Civil War demonstrations at the Robbins House, and a display of Civil War artifacts at the Armory.