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Local History

Lyon's Sword

“Lyon’s Sword Given Battlefield Museum,”
Springfield (Mo.) Daily News, December 11, 1969, 52.

"A century old, gold inlaid sword which was presented to Captain Nathaniel Lyon in 1861 is being placed in the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield Park museum after being retrieved from an antique dealer in Miami Beach, Fla.

"Capt. Lyon, who was promoted to brigadier general before his death on Aug. 10, 1861, was given the unique relic by the citizens of St. Louis while he was assigned to the arsenal there, according to Col. Leo E. Huff, history instructor at Southwest Missouri State College.

"The presentation of the sword was made by Milton Kirby, president of the Civil War Round Table in Springfield after the CWRT purchased the antique for $397 from the Florida dealer, Col. Huff stated.

"Members of the CWRT gave donations toward the purchase after Col. Huff noticed the description of the sword in a dealer’s catalog.  The Round Table voted to buy it and present it to the museum at the battlefield where Lyon was killed.  Col. Huff said according to the inscription on the hilt of the sword it was presented to Lyon before he was promoted and immediately after his troops rounded up the southern soldiers in the 'Camp Jackson Affair' in early May of 1861.

"“Since the sword was connected with Springfield history and we had a chance to obtain it, we decided to present it to the museum at the original site of the battle,” Huff said.

"The inscription on the sword states:  'Presented to Capt. Nathaniel Lyon, 2nd U.S. Inf. By the Citizens of St. Louis as Testimonial of their Esteem.'  Robert Schumerth, management assistant of the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield museum, accepted the relic.

"Col. Huff said, 'Lyon is credited by some authorities as saving Missouri for the Union, even though he was killed and the Union lost the battle at Wilson’s Creek.'"

You can view the Lyon sword online through the Trans-Mississippi Theater Virtual Museum.  Be sure to zoom in to see the detail work.  The Virtual Museum was completed in partnership with Wilson's Creek National Battlefield.

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