The famous sword of Gen. Robert E. Lee is making news this week because its finally returning to Lee’s place of surrender more than 146 years after the Civil War.
Anyone who’s not a history buff might wonder what the big deal is, but for decades, there’s been a myth surrounding Lee’s sword.
Legend has it that upon surrender to Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant after the Battle of Appomattox Court House, Lee gave up his sword to Grant as a traditional gesture, but Grant refused the sword.
History has a funny way of making a big circle, as the sword is moving from its longtime resting place at the Museum of the Confederacy in downtown Richmond to a new museum in Appomattox, Va.
Even if you don’t care too much about history, Lee’s sword is a notable and unique French-made sword.
The 40 1/2 inch sword has a lion’s head on the pommel (the knob at the bottom of the handle) and an ivory grip. The sword has lost all its gold color from years of polishing and upkeep, but was recently restored so it glows and glitters once again.
There is writing on each side of the blade. One side reads “Gen. Robert E. Lee CSA from a Marylander 1863” while the other side says “Aide toi dieu l’aidera.” That means “Help yourself and God will help you.”
The sword also comes with a scabbard made of blued steel, which is partially protected from rust.
They aren’t sure who made the sword, but they know it would have been extremely expensive in the 1800s. The sword was only for ceremonial use and there’s no sign he used it in battle.
If you want to look at this amazing piece of history and craftsmanship, the sword will also be visiting two more museums in Virginia.