The sword that belonged to the commanding officer of the first all-black regiment raised in the North during the Civil War has been recovered after being lost for more than 150 years.
The British-made sword carried into battle by Col. Robert Gould Shaw was stolen after he was killed during the 54th Massachusetts Voluntary Infantry’s doomed attack on Fort Wagner, SC, in 1863, a battle portrayed in the 1989 movie “Glory.”
It was found recently in the home of one of Shaw’s distant relatives and is scheduled to go on display at the Massachusetts Historical Society on Tuesday, the 154th anniversary of his death.
“I got goosebumps when I saw it,” said Anne Bentley, the organization’s curator of artifacts.
Society President Dennis Fiori called it the “holy grail of Civil War swords.”
After Shaw — who, like all officers in black units, was white — was killed, his body was stripped of clothing and belongings by Confederate soldiers.
The sword was recovered about two years later from a Confederate officer shortly after the war ended and returned to Shaw’s parents in Boston. Shaw had no children of his own, so the sword ended up with his sister, Susanna Minturn.
The sword was found in the attic of a home north of Boston by the sister’s great-grandchildren late last year as they were cleaning out the house following the death of their mother.