This week’s myth comes to us courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, where it was properly debunked. The story reported that Robert E. Lee’s French-made, ceremonial sword had been conserved and was being moved from the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia, to a newly constructed museum in Appomattox, where it is on display throughout 2015 (the 150th anniversary of the surrender) at the house where the surrender took place (below). The reporter repeated the enduring myth often heard at Civil War sites–that General Lee offered his ceremonial sword to General Ulysses S. Grant and that Grant gallantly refused it–saying that both claims were untrue.
Lee never offered his sword. Grant never requested it. Here are Grant’s own words from his memoirs: “The much talked of surrendering of Lee’s sword and my handing it back, this and much more that has been said about it is the purest romance.” Seems it was a widespread myth even back then!