The Cutting Edge

The official blog of Knife Depot

The Return of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Sword

The famous sword of Gen. Robert E. Lee is making news this week because its finally returning to Lee’s place of surrender more than 146 years after the Civil War.

Anyone who’s not a history buff might wonder what the big deal is, but for decades, there’s been a myth surrounding Lee’s sword.

Legend has it that upon surrender to Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant after the Battle of Appomattox Court House, Lee gave up his sword to Grant as a traditional gesture, but Grant refused the sword.

History has a funny way of making a big circle, as the sword is moving from its longtime resting place at the Museum of the Confederacy in downtown Richmond to a new museum in Appomattox, Va.

Even if you don’t care too much about history, Lee’s sword is a notable and unique French-made sword.

The 40 1/2 inch sword has a lion’s head on the pommel (the knob at the bottom of the handle) and an ivory grip. The sword has lost all its gold color from years of polishing and upkeep, but was recently restored so it glows and glitters once again.

There is writing on each side of the blade. One side reads “Gen. Robert E. Lee CSA from a Marylander 1863” while the other side says “Aide toi dieu l’aidera.” That means “Help yourself and God will help you.”

The sword also comes with a scabbard made of blued steel, which is partially protected from rust.

They aren’t sure who made the sword, but they know it would have been extremely expensive in the 1800s. The sword was only for ceremonial use and there’s no sign he used it in battle.

If you want to look at this amazing piece of history and craftsmanship, the sword will also be visiting two more museums in Virginia.


  1. damn. that is a beautiful sword. i mean…. i’m at a loss.

  2. I have found the real lost sword of general e lee

    • General Lee’s sword is a French made Devisme sword. A Marylander gave it to him. Some think this was one of the reasons Lee thought Maryland would join with the Confederacy when his Army marched on Harpers Ferry and Sharpsburg, Maryland.

      • The sword is dated 1863. The Maryland campaign that involved the capture of Harper’s Ferry and the Battle at South Mountain, culminating in the Battle of Antietam, occurred in 1862.

  3. Charles Jennings

    June 12, 2020 at 7:05 pm

    Thank you for this information. It doesn’t heart good that General Lee’s sword is handled with respect and appreciation. My personal feelings are with the Union but I have the utmost respect for this man.

  4. This is not true I am a descendant if Robert E Lee and I have his 1st sword. It will never be sold or go out of the Lee Family.
    Southern Girl

  5. I call BS on this. My grandfather Homer Salyer the second gave the sword to a museum when I was a child. Both my mother and father went with him. I have legal proof and photographs of it. One photograph of the sword has a sign with my grandfathers name saying he gave the sword to the museum. So the sword was not lost.


      August 4, 2022 at 12:28 pm

      REL had several swords, so no need to say BS! I know he had one that belonged to Washington and there was one presented him by Maryland and there were more. REL may have been in possession of more than one of Washington’s swords, being the grandson of Washington through his wife, and preserver of many of Washington’s possessions he kept at Arlington House his home, which the North stole during the war and robbed blind including many of Washington’s things.

  6. Robert Jackson Eubank

    August 9, 2022 at 10:26 am

    My name is Robert Jackson Eubank, I am directly related to Swords Lee who is a direct lineal descendant of “Light Horse Harry Lee”. Robert E. Lee’s father. As well another interesting fact is the only unit I served with in the United States Army is 1/4 CAV. The only unit Robert E Lee Received command for as a Colonel for the United States before he declined Lincoln’s offer to be promoted to Major General to serve in the Union to fight the Confederacy. I did not know this till years later after getting out as an Airborne Paratrooper. My father bears a striking resemblance to Robert E. Lee. History does have a very funny way of making lots of full circles

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