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Civil War General Sherman's sword among relics headed to Ohio auction next week

A sword once wielded by legendary Union Gen. William T. Sherman is among numerous historic relics headed for the auction block next week in Ohio's capital.

Bidders will fight with their dollars next week at an Ohio auction house for the sword of the Civil War Union general who led a scorched-earth campaign across Georgia and coined the phrase "War is hell."

General William Tecumseh Sherman’s wartime sword, likely used between 1861 and 1863, are among the items that will be open to bidders Tuesday at Fleischer’s Auctions in Columbus.

Other items that will be auctioned off include Sherman's uniform’s rank insignia worn during the Civil War, a family Bible and his personal, annotated copy of Ulysses S. Grant’s memoirs.


Sherman, a West Point graduate, was superintendent of a military school in Louisiana when South Carolina seceded in 1861, setting the war in motion. His capture of Atlanta in September 1864 helped President Abraham Lincoln win a second term in November of that year, ensuring that his fight to preserve the Union would continue.

After taking Atlanta, Sherman then led his famous "March to the Sea," culminating with the December 1864 capture of Savannah, which dealt a huge blow to Confederate morale.

"Had it not been for William Tecumseh Sherman, it is conceivable that the North would not have won the Civil War and that the Union would not have been preserved," said Adam Fleischer, president of the auction house.

Fleischer said a "conservative" estimated sales price for the saber is between $40,000-$60,000 and an estimated sale of the entirety of Sherman’s collection could sell as high as $300,000.

"As Americans, we live with the consequences of the Civil War whether we know it or not," Fleischer said, "and if you remove William Tecumseh Sherman from history the war could have ended very differently."

Sherman’s relics were provided to the auction house by his direct descendants, according to Fleischer.

The auction also includes relics such as a 1733 document signed by Benjamin Franklin, the eleventh known 1790 "free" badge issued to a formerly enslaved person, the scrapbook of a Tuskegee Airman and other effects, according to a release from Fleischer’s Auctions.

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