Called to the Mall: This Sculpture Tells the Story of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment in the Civil War

By Naod Samuel, 9 years old

This great sculpture, called the Shaw Memorial, is in the National Gallery of Art on the Mall in D.C. It shows the 54th Massachusetts Regiment marching in 1863. These men are African Americans who want to help the Northern Army to win the war and end slavery in our country. This is what the Civil War was about for them.

When I look at this, I see the black soldiers all around the white officer on the horse. The drummers are drumming and I think the drums are saying that they are ready to go. All the people have rifles and the leader, the man on the horse, has a sword and a pistol.

Shaw Memorial by Saint-Gaudens, Augustus (Courtesy National Gallery of Art)
Shaw Memorial by Saint-Gaudens, Augustus (Courtesy National Gallery of Art)

Everyone is carrying bags and bedrolls and they have water canteens. There is a lady floating over their heads. I think she’s an angel, a symbol of God looking out for all of them.

The man who made this is Augustus Saint-Gaudens.   He made the first version, a bronze sculpture, for 21 important men who lived in Boston. He did it in honor of the officer in the middle, who was named Colonel Shaw, and his brave regiment. That sculpture got put up in Boston. Then he did a slightly different version of the same story.   He did this one himself. He wanted to get all the details right. It took him more than ten years to finish it. Then this version was given to the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy (later the Albright-Knox Art Gallery). The Buffalo Fine Arts gallery gave it to the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in 1949. Finally, it was donated to the National Gallery of Art, and that is where you can see it today.

• Called to the Mall: An Anthology of Stories about the National Mall was a project to teach children how to be active citizens in a democracy. It was created September 25, 2017 by Shining Stars Montessori Academy Public Charter School and sponsored by the National Mall Coalition, of Washington, D.C. The book is now available on iBooks, order your copy now.

Read more stories below

Called to the Mall: Harriet Tubman on the $20 Bill

By Aniyah Harris, 9 years old Right now, in June of 2016, there are no monuments to famous African-American women...
Read More

Called to the Mall: Rosa Parks: A Brave Black Woman

By Mykia Plummer, 9 years old -- There is a statue of Mrs. Rosa Parks in Washington, D.C.
Read More

Called to the Mall: National Mall — Great Place to Be

By Eshan Timberlake, who is 10 years old -- Many important things have happened at the National Mall. It looks...
Read More

Called to the Mall: Cherry Blossom Festival in D.C.!

By Jalen Gabriel, 10 years old -- I get to live in Washington, D.C., where the Cherry Blossom Festival happens...
Read More

Called to the Mall: The Lincoln Memorial

By Tariq Timberlake, 10 years old -- The Lincoln Memorial is an important part of the National Mall.
Read More

Called to the Mall: John Lewis: He Changed the World

By Byron Johnson, 10 years old -- John Lewis, the civil rights leader, was born February 21, 1940.
Read More

Called to the Mall: Girls On Fire

By Sia Rosalia Ahmadu, 9 years old -- This year in Washington, D.C., at the National Mall, there were girls...
Read More

Called to the Mall: Memorial for Martin

By Moses Jackson, 8 years old -- There is a spectacular memorial to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., with his...
Read More

Called to the Mall: Presenting Marian Anderson

By Sydney Cuff, 11 years old -- Marian Anderson was a beautiful and strong opera singer.
Read More


Tags: , ,