Monday, September 17, 2012

Antietam: Evening with Newton Manross' sword

When she and her sister were growing up in Bristol, Conn., Marcia Eveland remembers fooling around with the presentation sword of her great-great-great uncle Newton Spaulding Manross, a captain in the 16th Connecticut Infantry.
Newton Manross with the sword given to him by
 the citizens of Bristol, Conn.
(Photo courtesy Bristol Historical Society)

"My sister and I didn't know what it was, and it was in the attic, so we played with it," Eveland said. "And I told my sister ghost stories about the sword floating up in the air and coming to cut off her head!"

Today, the beautiful sword, made in Collinsville, Conn., is a family treasure.

The captain of Company K, Manross was killed at the Battle of Antietam 150 years ago today, cut down by grapeshot in farmer John Otto's 40-acre cornfield. During a ceremony honoring Bristol's Civil War soldiers at West Cemetery on Monday evening, Eveland honored her ancestor by placing his sword next to a wreath at the town's Civil War memorial.

"Our family has always cherished the fact that he was our uncle," Eveland said.

Before he marched off to fight the Civil War, Manross was given the sword by the citizens of Bristol. A brilliant man, Manross was acting professor of chemistry and philosophy at Amherst (Mass.) College when he joined the Union army. He told his wife upon enlisting, "You can better afford to have a country without a husband than a husband without a country." I never get tired of that quote.

Although I have never played with the Manross sword, I was accidentally jabbed with it when I first perused it in April. It was an honor.

Marcia Eveland holds the sword of her great-great-great uncle Newton Manross, a captain
 in the 16th Connecticut, who was killed at the Battle of Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862. 
8th Connecticut re-enactor Chris Matt solemnly stands by the Civil War memorial 
at West Cemetery in Bristol, Conn., on Monday.  Newton Manross' sword and scabbard
were placed next to the wreath by his great-great-great niece, Marcia Eveland.

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