Presumed lost ‘holy grail of Civil War swords’ found in attic (VIDEO)
By Chris Eger
Descendants of Col. Robert Gould Shaw, killed leading the 54th Massachusetts Regiment during the Civil War, recently stumbled across his sword.
Last week the Massachusetts Historical Society announced it had acquired a collection of Shaw’s papers, photographs and relics, to include his engraved Wilkinson sword, which he was carrying when he was killed.
Col. Robert Gould Shaw, 54th Mass Inf. (Photo: Library of Congress )
“To have located ‘the holy grail of Civil War swords’ is a remarkable discovery,” said MHS President Dennis Fiori in a statement. “Through an amazing research effort, our curator and staff were able to put together a detailed timeline to authenticate the sword.”
Shaw, an abolitionist who led the all-black regiment in the attack on Fort Wagner, at Morris Island, South Carolina, in 1863, was immortalized in the 1989 film Glory, where he was portrayed by Matthew Broderick, and in a monument on Boston Common.
At just 25 when he was killed, Shaw had volunteered to serve as a private when the war began and had fought at the battles of Cedar Mountain, and Antietam, rising to the rank of Captain, before he was approached about leading the 54th, a novel unit for its time — the first African-American regiment raised