The Civil War, Day by Day

Blessing of the Sword

Blessing of the Sword

Like their Northern countrymen, most Southerners wanted no war, but the war came - and responsible men were committed to do their duty. From Charleston to Galveston, from Richmond to Little Rock, from Memphis to Mobile - Southern men in uniform left for war.

The leave-taking could be as brief and simple as a fleeting embrace and a promise to remember and return. Among the leaders of the land, however, departure was often marked by solemn ceremony. Family and faithful friends gathered in support of the man who was bound for war. Endearments were shared, memories were recalled, toasts were offered and pleas for protection were prayed.

Often such ceremonies were capped by the presentation of an ornately engraved edged weapon. It was offered with a heartfelt blessing - a leave-taking benediction of hope that the sword would remain sheathed or that it would provide protection from the brutality of battle. It was typically received with gratitude - and a vow to carry it with honor, to faithfully do one’s duty, to return when the homeland no longer needed defending - and even in the darkest hour to remember those left behind. Then the time of departure was at hand, the man in gray was gone - and the blessing of the sword remained only as a memory.

July's Archived Features:

Friday July 1, 2022



All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2019. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.