Party Like 1863

August 13th, 2011 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

I confess that I like the 54th (and the affiliated Colored Ladies Christian Relief Society). They were re-enacting again at Fort Warren in Boston Harbor, as they did on Juneteenth in Franklin Park. Plus, I get to play history geek without wearing the wool uniform in summer.

The price of the Harbor Islands ferry has about tripled from when we first went about 30 years ago, but it’s still in the range of a movie ticket. For that, you get the round-trip boat ride as well as all the freebie activities on George’s Island (and a couple of nearby ones if you want to explore or beach it). We went from Quincy for the first time instead of heading downtown. That’s a little easier for us in HP, but we missed the longer boat ride from Long Wharf. I pity the fool who never does the islands trip, even though fares are around $14 after they became a federal park. Another big plus is a subset of Jasper White’s Summer Shack, replacing the terrible pink hot dogs and similar dreck from the old days, and at good prices. Huzzah.

Today was the annual Civil War encampment (last week a Native American festival). Some years have many re-enactors. Today was just the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, Company A and a single Colored Ladies rep.  They are worth a trip though.

The troops have replicas of the muzzle-loading Enfield musket rifles used by the 54th 148 years ago.
54drill They have authentic clothes and hardwar, which they show and explain. They also set up several tents and the personal trappings of the period.
Benny White, acting as the regiment’s lieutenant drilled and inspected the soldiers, explained the uniforms and gear, and led them though preparing their weapons. 54looey
54prez 54th president and acting as sergeant, Emmett Bell-Sykes provided the history of the regiment and other African American troops in the war. Note here the haversack eagle medallion on his chest, which White said was nicknamed “the target,” as it seemed to serve no other purpose.
The symbols of the regiment were on the top of their caps. This is the group that proved that black soldiers were are smart and brave as any. It served as the model of the movie Glory and the huge bronze across from our state house. 54captop

Creative Commons note: You’re welcome to use and abuse these snaps. They are Creative Commons-Attribution. Just cite the source somewhere.


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