General William Tecumseh Sherman’s Sword Goes Up For Sale

[Fleischer's Auction House, Screenshot]

One of the most important swords in American history could soon be yours. The saber and trunk belonging to Union General William Tecumseh Sherman during the Civil War has gone up for sale.

Sherman gained fame for his actions during the war, notably for the burning of Atlanta in 1864 and leading his troops on the “March to the Sea,” a campaign from inland Georgia to the Atlantic coast, ultimately capturing Savannah. 

The two historical artifacts, which have been passed down through Sherman’s descendants, beginning with his daughter Maria Fitch, are hitting an auction house in Ohio.

The listing explains how rare this piece of Civil War memorabilia really is: 

General Sherman’s wartime saber is a rarely seen variant of a standard cavalry officer model produced by Christopher Roby of West Chelmsford, Massachusetts (Civil War Artillery & Cavalry Sabers, Thillman. 2001. pg. 320.). This “special order” saber features a 30 1/2 inch blade, and was likely personally chosen by Sherman to suit his taste. At the start of the war, Sherman was a mounted field-grade officer and this agile saber would have been an ideal weapon. Though it is a high-grade example appropriate for an officer of Sherman’s rank and pedigree, the saber is without question a weapon that was intended for actual combat. Sherman himself stated he did not wear a sword after he succeeded General Grant in command of the Western Theatre of the war in early 1864 (6 December 1881, William T. Sherman to Herbert E. Hill, Seth Kaller Inc.). Thus, we can definitively attribute the saber’s use to the period of Sherman’s service where he saw action in numerous engagements, including the Battle of Shiloh, where he was wounded twice and had three horses shot dead underneath him.

The saber was stored in the military trunk by the Fitch-Sherman family with other inherited relics related to General William T. Sherman. The trunk is a significant piece in its own right and its apparent description in one of General Sherman’s letters (described below) as containing his “swords worn by by me as Colonel, Brigadier General, and Major General [before his march to the sea]…” is valuable provenance. It is marked “Care Depot QR.MR. St. Louis. MO,” “W.T. Sherman” on its front and top, and “Books” on its sides. The trunk’s exact age has proved difficult to ascertain, but various maker’s marks on its iron hinges and other clues seem to indicate its production and original use to sometime between 1860-1875.

The Washington Times reported that other Sherman memorabilia being sold “include his rank insignia, the Sherman family bible, and the general’s personal copy of ‘Photographic Views of Sherman’s Campaign,’ the definitive photo record of his ‘March to the Sea.’

The entire Sherman collection being sold could fetch as much as $300,000, belying Sherman’s importance to American history.”

“As Americans, we live with the consequences of the Civil War whether we know it or not, and if you remove William Tecumseh Sherman from history, the war could have ended very differently,” Fleischer’s Auctions President Adam Fleischer told the Associated Press.

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