Returning sword reflected code of honor

“The theme of turning swords into ploughshares — albeit popular [circa 1890] — was less prominent, perhaps, than that of returning swords to their rightful owners. The press seized upon these human interest stories….

“In 1887 Captain James A. Marrow of Clarksville, Virginia, returned the sword of Lieutenant A. G. Case of Simsbury, Connecticut — a sword that had been captured by Confederates at Plymouth, North Carolina, in 1864.

“When Marrow learned that the sword’s owner still lived, he wrote to Case: ‘I am a true American and have no desire to retain any relic as a triumph of Americans over Americans.’ Reports of such chivalrous conduct restored American faith that a code of honor continued to exist in their culture….”

— From “Mystic Chords of Memory: The Transformation of Tradition in American Culture” by Michael Kammen (1991)

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