Estate Auction Company of Hagerstown, MD, has canceled plans to sell the skull of an unknown Confederate soldier after an outcry of criticism from numerous sources, including the National Parks Service. The skull was originally unearthed in 1949 in a garden on private land near the site of a former CSA field hospital near Benner’s Farm. Based on a breastplate found in the vicinity, it believed that the solider fought with a Louisiana unit.
The Battle of Gettysburg was fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, PA and involved approximately 164,000 troops from both the North and the South. By the time it was 45,000-51,000 men had been killed, wounded or considered “missing;” the largest number of casualties of the entire Civil War. Often considered to be the “turning point” of the War, Union Maj. Gen. George Meade's Army of the Potomac defeated attacks by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, ending Lee's attempt to invade the North. In fact, Lee lost nearly 1/3 of his officers. Later that year, President Abraham Lincoln delivered his historic Gettysburg Address to honor the fallen Union soldiers and redefine the purpose of the war during a dedication ceremony for the Gettysburg National Cemetery.
According to Estate Auction Company auctioneer Thomas Taylor, the skull would be handed over to the National Park Service at the Gettysburg National Military Park, where it will be interred alongside the remains of other unknown solders.