Letter: Remembering George Washington Dugan

Published: 4/21/2021 10:00:05 AM

Imagine that you sacrificed your life in the Civil War, but your name is lost to history, including on your town’s Civil War Memorial. This is the story of George Washington Dugan. Born in 1819 to Thomas and Jennie Dugan, there was no way to know that George and his mother would become household names in the historic Town of Concord. Sometimes, it takes a while for the public to be informed. In this case, it will be 158 years to complete the tale.

The 54th Massachusetts was an infantry regiment that saw extensive service in the Union Army during the American Civil War. The unit was the second African-American regiment organized in the northern states during the Civil War. General recruitment of African Americans for service in the Union Army was authorized by the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Lincoln in 1863. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton accordingly instructed the governor of Massachusetts, John A. Andrew, to begin raising regiments including “persons of African descent.” At age 44, George Washington Dugan left the farm off Old Marlboro Road and enlisted in the Massachusetts 54th. He may have been persuaded by an advertisement in the Boston Journal recruiting “good men of African descent.” I think it may have been the sense of pride for the freed slaves in Massachusetts. George, a widower, would be one of 450 Concordians who served in the Civil War, but the lone black soldier.

Paul Murphy

Deerfield




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