It's an enduring myth of the Civil War: Robert E. Lee surrendered his sword to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, and his Union counterpart refused the traditional gesture of surrender.
"Lee never offered it, and Grant never asked for it," said Patrick Schroeder, historian at Appomattox Courthouse National Historical Park.
In a historical twist, though, Lee's French-made ceremonial sword is returning to Appomattox 146 years later, leaving the Richmond, Va., Museum of the Confederacy, where it has been displayed for nearly a century, for a new museum scheduled to open next spring less than a mile from where Lee met with Grant to sign the document of surrender on April 9, 1865.
One side of the 40 1/2-inch sword with the lion head on its pommel and an ivory grip reads: "Gen. Robert E. Lee CSA from a Marylander 1863." On the other: "Aide toi dieu l'aidera (Help yourself and God will help you)."