54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment Coming to Bedford on June 8

This monument designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens at Boston Common honors the members of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment. They were among the first African Americans to fight in the Civil War. Photo by Wayne Braverman

The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Company A reenactors of Hyde Park, along with their display of infantry equipment, will present their educational interpretation of the first regiment of African American soldiers recruited in the North to serve in the Federal Army during the Civil War (1861 – 1865) from 1 to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 8 at the Bedford First Baptist Church of Bedford, 155 Concord Road. 

The Bedford First Baptist Church invites the community to attend this event that will also include a viewing of the 1989 multi-award-winning movie “Glory (rated R) about the 54th MVIR. People are also invited to participate in a “talk-back” with the reenactors to critique and separate fact from fiction in the cinematic portrayal. 

Approximately 200,000 Black men served in the federal army and naval forces during the Civil War and are arguably the critical difference that insured a defeat of the Confederacy. 

Admission to the event is free and popcorn will be provided. People are also invited to bring their own food. 

The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Company A reenactors have made presentations in Bedford in the past: at the American Legion Hall and on several occasions at the VA. During this visit on June 8, they want to use the film “Glory as the vehicle to highlight the contributions of Black Americans in the Civil War. 

According to the group, “Black Americans have contributed to U.S. military efforts as recruiters, as laborers, as enlisted men, as non-commissioned officers, after the Civil War as commissioned officers, and have made numerous contributions as civilians.

“This is our first time in Bedford to present and investigate the portrayal of Black soldiers in the Civil War in cinema. Our displays are replica items of the 19th century military uniforms and equipment that we use in our reenactments. We are here to not only tell what we do as reenactors, but to also investigate the historic portrayal of the 54th MVIR in the film “Glory.”

“We will make our presentation, watch the film with a short intermission, and at its conclusion, we want to hear from you, your critiques and questions. We will discuss the military actions portrayed in the film, and some of the 54th MVIR events and actions not portrayed. We also want to discuss 19th century civilian events, the characters shown, and actor portrayals. There has been public critique of the film as history and as entertainment. Most likely, we can go wherever your questions take us. Thank you for attending.”

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