The case of the vanished sword
By John Lockwood
One of our memorials is missing a sword.
The General Sherman memorial just south of the Treasury Building shows General William Tecumseh Sherman on horseback atop a 32-foot pedestal guarded at each ground-level corner by a soldier. The memorial was designed by a Danish sculptor named Carl Rohl-Smith. It was dedicated on Oct. 15, 1903.
The northwest soldier is an infantryman, holding his rifle by the barrel, with the butt resting on the ground. The southwest soldier is an engineer, holding his rifle in the same position. He also carries a cylinder or tube, about 3 feet long. Perhaps it contains surveying instruments. The southeast soldier is a cavalryman, with sword pointed upward across his left shoulder. At the northeast is an artilleryman — whose hands close upon empty air.
When I saw the northeast soldier, the question arose: Is he missing a rifle or a sword? Well, what would one of my heroes, Sherlock Holmes, do? Look for a cartridge box, or a scabbard.
There was a scabbard there, an empty one. So it was indeed a missing sword — a fact later verified in The Post’s Oct. 16, 1903, edition, which included a drawing showing the soldier with a sword, its point touching the ground.
The lost sword is probably rusting in somebody’s attic or slowly corroding in a landfill. I doubt even Holmes could find it now.
| May 24, 2010; 11:25 AM ET
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Posted by: pedholm | May 25, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse
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