Sword belonging to Robert Gould Shaw, carried by him at the assault on Fort Wagner
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This is a regulation Infantry sword made for the American market by Henry Wilkinson, Pall Mall, London. Robert Gould Shaw (1837-1863) carried this sword at the assault on Fort Wagner, Folly Island, S.C. on 18 July 1863. The sword was a gift from his uncle George R. Russell, and in a letter to his father, dated 1 July 1863, Shaw acknowledges receiving “[a] box of Uncle George’s containing a beautiful English sword...”
With sword in-hand, Colonel Shaw, of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, was shot in the chest and killed while mounting the parapet of Ft. Wagner. The sword and other personal effects were taken from his body during the night and presumed lost. In June of 1865, the U.S. Colored Troops, under the command of Gen. Charles Jackson Paine, U.S.V., found the sword "in the possession of a rebel officer" near Goldsboro, N.C. The sword was returned to the Shaw family in 1865 by Capt. Solon A. Carter, U.S.V. but was misplaced after 1900 until it's recent discovery in 2017.
The collections of the Massachuetts Historical Society also include a second sword owned by Shaw, a regulation model 1850 Foot Officer's sword, made by the Ames Manufacturing Company, circa 1860: