New Civil War museum at Appomattox features General Lee’s sword and uniform

As we reported a year ago, a new Civil War museum has been under construction at Appomattox, Virginia. It is a branch of Richmond’s Museum of the Confederacy and will commemorate the surrender of General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and the aftermath of the Civil War.

Now the Museum of the Confederacy-Appomattox is almost complete and will open March 31. Among the displays are General Lee’s uniform and gold ceremonial sword — the very same he wore and carried on April 9, 1865 when he met General Ulysses S. Grant to surrender.

More than 450 items will be on display in an exhibition space spanning 11,700 square feet. It’s located near Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, which includes the McLean House where Grant and Lee met.

The Museum of the Confederacy is planning more regional museums in order to make their large collection more accessible. Satellite museums are planned for Fredericksburg and Hampton Roads, Virginia.

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Robert E. Lee’s sword to go on display at Appomattox

On 9 April 1865, Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant met at Appomattox, Virginia, so that Lee could surrender his Army of Northern Virginia.

This momentous event effectively ended the American Civil War. With Lee and his army gone, the Confederate cause lost hope. General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered the Army of Tennessee on April 26, and in Louisiana General Kirby Smith surrendered his Trans-Mississippi Confederate forces on May 26. The last Confederate general to surrender was the Cherokee Brigadier General Stand Watie in the Indian Territory on June 23.

Now a new museum will open at Appomattox dedicated to the war and its conclusion. A centerpiece of the display will be Robert E. Lee’s golden ceremonial sword. Owned by the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, the sword will grace a branch museum it’s building at Appomattox. The museum is also building branches at the important Civil War sites of Fredericksburg and Hampton Roads. The Appomattox museum will open next spring.

The sword was the same worn by Lee during the surrender. Lee famously showed up in full dress uniform with his French-made golden sword at his side. Grant showed up unkempt and wearing a muddy uniform.

The sword has recently been restored with a new layer of gilt that has restored its original luster.

[Image of Robert E. Lee courtesy Wikimedia Commons]

The Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War and Heritage Days

Even though I’m disappointed that the Electric Map is gone, the new National Park Service’s ‘s visitor center in Gettysburg where the map used to be does sound wonderful.

Called Gettysburg Museum of the American Civil War, it is filled with artifacts, interactive displays, a gift shop and a place to buy Civil War era food like hardtack, a type of biscuit that keeps forever.

As mentioned in a previous post, the Electric Map has been traded for a movie, A New Birth of Freedom. Narrated by Morgan Freeman, it outlines the importance of the Battle at Gettysburg and pertinent details about the Civil War. The rest of the museum is made up of galleries with different themes.

The Voices of the Campaign Theater in Gallery 5 seems like a section not to miss. This is where you can hear audio versions of letters, diaries and newspaper articles from the time period. Artifacts of note in this gallery are Robert E. Lee’s stove and other items of an officer’s field camp. The display is made to look like what a field camp would actually look like. The field desk that Lee might have used at Gettysburg is also here.

The 11 other galleries are as detailed, and each have a theme inspired by Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. For those of you watching your dollars this summer, a stop here has a price that’s right. The museum is free. The movie costs $8 for adults and $6.50 for children. If you can swing it, spring for the movie because I imagine it will help highlight the sites that you’ll see when you tour the actual battleground. Plus, Morgan Freeman has such a lovely voice.

From June 29 until July 6 is Heritage Days which commemorates Gettysburg’s history. This year the museum is playing host. Here’s a link to the schedule of events.