Auction of what could be a Civil War soldier's skull canceled

Written by Ben Allen | Jun 3, 2014 1:23 PM
Thumbnail image for amputation-gettysburg.jpg

(Gettysburg) -- The Gettysburg Foundation now has possession of what’s believed to be a skull of a Civil War soldier who was killed during the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863.

Estate Auction Company of Hershey listed the skull as available for bid in an auction scheduled for today in Hagerstown, Maryland. 

But after a public outcry, the owner donated it to the Gettysburg Foundation, which picked it up late yesterday.

"It's a combination of being very grateful for the public's response and for the owner's and the auctioneer's willingness to change their minds. I think this was the right thing to decide to do, and there's a lot of relief this morning," says Katie Lawhon, spokesperson at Gettysburg National Military Park.

She says the hotel hosting the auction had been receiving threats.

"They were hoping that we could announce that we had possession of the remains before the 1:00 p.m. auction start time. We both wanted to get the word out once the transfer had taken place."

The auctioneer says the remains were found in 1949 as a garden was being tilled on the Benner Farm in Gettysburg.

Lawhon says the foundation and the National Park Service is now trying to find forensic anthropologists to determine if the person was a Civil War soldier.

A proper burial will be planned if the skull indeed belongs to a soldier killed in fighting.

In 1996, a heavy spring rain exposed soldiers' remains in the railroad cut on the field of the first day of the battle and found lead spatter inside the cranium to confirm the soldiers died in fighting.

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