Robert Romer Honors Western Massachusetts Black Union Soldiers

AMHERST – While Robert Romer was taking a walk the day before Memorial Day, he noticed that small American flags had been placed next to gravestones in the West Cemetery in honor of those who had served their country.

Conspicuous by their absence, though, were flags at the gravestones marking the final resting places of four black men who were Union soldiers during the Civil War.

Romer deduced that it was likely an oversight, not a slight, and quickly purchased flags for them at Hastings. But the incident got him thinking about how the town can better recognize the contributions that Amherst’s African-American community made toward ending slavery.

Donald Shaffer, at his blog, “Civil War Emancipation,” asks if there were black soldiers in September 1861.


About marcferguson

I teach history, including the American Civil War Era, as an Adjunct at American International College in Springfield, Ma. I also teach survey courses in U.S. history, Western Civilization, and World History, and have taught at other area colleges, including the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, and Holyoke Community College. While my academic background is in European History, my interest in the American Civil War began about a decade ago. Other areas of interest include Modernism, 20th century World Thought and Culture, The Rise of the West after 1400, 19th c. American Society and Culture, Central and Eastern European History and Culture, and Local History. I have in recent years cut back my teaching drastically in order to devote more time raising my kids (15 year old twins now), including working part-time at their elementary/middle school for the past 6 years, they are now launched and off to High School, and I plan to crank up my involvement in teaching history and local history projects, particularly in light of the American Civil War Sesquicentennial.
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2 Responses to Robert Romer Honors Western Massachusetts Black Union Soldiers

  1. Chuck Brown says:

    The lack of public knowledge about the contributions of African American soldiers to the destruction of slavery is a national tragedy. The South may have lost the Civil War, but it won the battle for memory. While this was likely not a purposeful omission, it needed to be rectified. I applaud Mr. Romer.

  2. marcferguson says:

    Thanks for the comment, Chuck. Yes, Robert Romer has made enormous contributions to understanding slavery and the experience of blacks in Western Massachusetts:

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