Construction crew unearths rare, pre-Civil War sword in Arkansas

Updated Feb 17, 2014
Credit: AP via the Historic Arkansas MusuemCredit: AP via the Historic Arkansas Musuem

While doing excavation work for a new parking deck in downtown Little Rock, Arkansas, a construction crew unearthed a sword that predates the Civil War.

The Clark Construction crew turned the sword over to the Historic Arkansas Museum. In an interview with KATV, the museum’s chief curator, Swanee Burnett, said the museum is very excited about the find which could date all the way back to Arkansas’ territorial period.

Burnett called the sword “a great blade.”

“It’s rare to find an excavated blade like this [in tact] from Pommel cap to sword tip,” he told the station. “It’s very rare to find one like that. At least in Arkansas. We’ve not found many.”

If the museum can raise the funding, Bennett said the sword will undergo a thorough restoration to remove the 200 years worth of dirt and age.

The sword likely belonged to former U.S. Sen. Chester Ashley, one of the state’s wealthiest men in his time. His home, the Ashley mansion, was built around 1820 and stood on the site of the new parking lot, according to a report from the Associated Press.

The home was occupied by Union soldiers during the Civil War when Little Rock was captured in September 1863, Bennett said.

It’s unclear whether the sword came into Ashley’s possession after being lost by a Union or Confederate soldier or whether the sword was given to Ashley personally, Bennett said.

“Ashley was a mover and shaker and could have afforded a sword. In fact, Arkansas territorial Gov. George Izard appointed Ashley to the rank of colonel in the (Arkansas territorial) militia,” he told the AP.