Saint-Gaudens’s nerves surely recovered the following day, as laudatory headlines appeared in the Boston papers, such as “St. Gaudens’ Work Compared to Michelangelo’s ‘David’ by [Connoisseurs].” Author Henry James, whose two younger brothers had served in the 54th, wrote, “How I rejoice that something really fine is to stand there forever for R.G.S. and all the rest of them. This thing of Saint-Gaudens strikes me as real perfection.”
Today, the Memorial is celebrated as one of the first American public sculptures to portray Black Americans as individualized subjects. It has also drawn criticism. While the names of the white officers killed at the battle were inscribed on the monument, Saint-Gaudens left off the names of the Black soldiers over concerns that they would take up too much space. In 1981-82, during a restoration campaign, this wrong was righted, and the names of the 62 black soldiers who died at the battle were added to the monument.