Heroes in Bronze

Exhibition Dates: June 30th, 2012 October, 2012

Saint-Gaudens Bronze busts
Portrait busts of soldiers from the legendary Massachusetts 54th Regiment.

The Saint-Gaudens Civil War 54th Regiment Exhibition returned to the New Bedford Whaling Museum.  

As part of the multi-year commemoration of the Civil War, the museum hosted an exhibit of portrait busts of soldiers from the legendary Massachusetts 54th Regiment modeled in bronze by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens.  The exhibition was on display in the Jacobs Family Gallery.

The Massachusetts 54th Regiment, memorialized in the Oscar-winning film “Glory” was the first African-American unit to fight for the North in the Civil War. Men were recruited from throughout the region, especially New Bedford.  Sergeant William Carney, the great uncle of former Trustee Carl Cruz received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his valor at the Battle of Fort Wagner where he refused to allow the American flag to touch the ground.

The  Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial, a bronze relief sculpture on the Boston Common, was created by sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and took fourteen years to complete.  The sculpture depicts the 54th Regiment marching down Beacon Street May 28, 1863 led by Captain Shaw and was unveiled on May 31, 1897.  The bronze busts in this exhibition were models for the final monument. 

The busts were on loan from the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire.