Sunday, May 22, 2011

Robert E. Lee's Sword Returning to Appomattox

General Robert E. Lee's Sword
Gather.com: Robert E. Lee's Civil War sword is a tale of two stories, or one truth and a myth. The myth is that Lee surrendered his sword to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia in a gesture of surrender. The myth also says that Grant turned down the sword. However, "Lee never offered it, and Grant never asked for it," said Patrick Schroeder, historian at Appomattox Courthouse National Historical Park.

History does have a way of rewriting itself, you have probably witnessed that yourself. Stories, myths and facts get twisted and turned until they come out totally different. Ask two eyewitnesses to the same accident to give the details of the event, and you will get two different stories.

When it comes to Robert E. Lee's Civil War sword, however, although Grant didn't want it or ask for it, Appomattox is getting it now, some 146 years later. The sword is leaving its current home in the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia and will be housed in a new museum. The sword, in a way, is returning to where it was originally supposedly offered to Grant.

The museum will be built about one mile from the spot where Lee and Grant met to sign the surrender documents on April 9, 1865. The Civil War, aka the War Between the States, pitched state against state and in many cases, brother against brother. That war took 630,000 lives before it was all said and done.

To read more about this ceremonial sword, check the Tennessean for details. It is interesting to note what is engraved on the sides of the sword. One side of the blade, in raised letters, reads: "Gen. Robert E. Lee CSA from a Marylander 1863." The other side of the blade reads: "Aide toi dieu l'aidera." Translated it means, "Help yourself and God will help you."

The new museum will open next spring, and it sounds like a fine place to visit and an educational experience for one and all. You will also see his Confederate uniform along with Robert E. Lee's Civil War sword, the one he didn't offer to Grant!

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