1st black Union soldiers remembered in DC exhibit

Sunday - 9/15/2013, 12:50pm EDT

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Following the Emancipation Proclamation 150 years ago, the first unit of black Northern soldiers was organized as the 54th Massachusetts Regiment and went on to fight at Fort Wagner in the Civil War.

The group's memory is enshrined in 116-year-old bronze Shaw Memorial by Augustus Saint-Gaudens on the Boston Common. Now the National Gallery of Art in Washington has organized an exhibition that explores the people honored in the memorial. It opens Sunday.

The museum has amassed photographic portraits and writings of many of the soldiers and their Civil War-era recruiters and teachers, including Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman.

The National Gallery also exhibits Saint-Gaudens' original painted plaster sculpture of the Shaw Memorial, which won a grand prize for sculpture at the 1900 Universal Exposition in Paris.

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