Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Sword belonging to officer who fell at Antietam officially handed over to The Citadel

(National Park Service photos)

The Citadel, in a ceremony at Antietam National Battlefield, on Wednesday formally received a sword that belonged to a graduate who died at the 1862 battle.

A contingent from Charleston, S.C., traveled to the western Maryland battlefield for the ceremony on Sunken Lane, just one day shy of the 153re anniversary of Confederate Col. Charles C. Tew’s death.

Tew, who led the 2nd North Carolina State Troops, had brief command of his brigade when he fell with a bullet to the head during an assault. His sword, cup and other belongings were taken by Federal soldiers, most likely from Ohio.

The sword subsequently had a long journey, for many years on display in Ohio before ending up with a Canadian military unit in Ottawa. A foundation associated with that regiment, after proving the provenance of the weapon, decided that it should go to The Citadel, where Tew was in the first group of students and was its first honor graduate. His descendants for generations had tried to locate the sword.

Citadel cadets and staff before the ceremony (Courtesy of David Goble)

The Citadel contingent will now return to the school, which will have a Sept. 17 (Thursday) reception at Daniel Library with the cherished sword on display, and an official transfer on Sept. 18 on Summerall Field, just prior to the traditional Friday cadet dress parade.

The ceremony, on a day with weather reminiscent of the bloody battle, involved the 33 Signal Regiment in Ontario handing Tew's sword over to the National Park Service, which was then to tender it to The Citadel cadets. The sword was given to Tew in 1858 by cadets at the Arsenal Academy, which was affiliated with The Citadel.

(Click here for video of Wednesday's ceremony)

Michael Martin, chairman of the 33 Signal Regiment Foundation, told the Picket that it was a "spectacular ceremony." After speeches, a wreath was placed near where Tew fell and Taps was played.

Descendants of the colonel and The Citadel alumni were present, Martin said. He spoke of the long process of proving the history of the sword and the preparation for its return to the United States.

“We all became vested in the process. Col. Tew became a real person as we looked at the archives and letters from the family. He was a scholar, father, an academic and natural-born leader. He was exceptionally worldly. He had traveled all through Europe as a young man.”

Tew's death at 34 robbed the world of a leader with even more potential, Martin said. 

Antietam park ranger Keith Snyder, who transferred the sword from the Canadian unit to The Citadel, called the event "moving, a perfect tribute."

(Courtesy of David Goble)

No comments:

Post a Comment