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Civil War vet's sword from could find its way home to New Brunswick

The hilt of John S. Stevenson's Civil War sword with his name inscribed. (Robert Low - image credit)
The hilt of John S. Stevenson's Civil War sword with his name inscribed. (Robert Low - image credit)

When Troy Middleton stumbled upon an online listing of a sword for sale, the Quispamsis man was immediately intrigued.

A local historian, he was able to confirm it had belonged to a New Brunswicker, a man named John S. Stevenson.

Stevenson, who was born in Saint Andrews in the 1830s, was a doctor who completed his studies at Harvard University.

During the American Civil War, 1861-1865, Stevenson was one of many Atlantic Canadians who enlisted in the U.S. Army.

"There were thousands of Atlantic Canadians that served in that conflict," Middleton said. "Some of them felt that it was the right thing to do to support freedom, to support the cause."

John S. Stevenson pictured sitting on the left.
John S. Stevenson pictured sitting on the left.

John S. Stevenson pictured sitting on the left in this undated photo. (Charlotte County Archives)

Stevenson served as a surgeon in the Union army's medical corps for the 29th Connecticut, a mainly Black infantry regiment. He would have acquired the ceremonial weapon during his time with the regiment, said Middleton, because it was awarded to members of the medical corps.

Stevenson fell ill while serving in Texas and died shortly after in New York. His body was returned to Saint Andrews for burial. His sword did not make it back to New Brunswick.

Now 150 years later, Middleton sees this as an opportunity to bring the sword home and hopes to use it as an educational tool to teach future generations about that conflict.

"The sword would be a way to put a physical item that makes that direct connection."

The next step is to find the money to purchase the artifact. Middleton discussed buying the sword with fellow local historian, Harold Wright.

Wright liked the idea and suggested they raise the money through the New Brunswick Historical Society.

"I asked the obvious questions. What's the story behind it, and how much? That was enough to excite me to go on to find out if we can raise the money," Wright said.

A long sword with a brass-looking handle and a long sheath to hold the sword.
A long sword with a brass-looking handle and a long sheath to hold the sword.

The current owner has agreed to sell it for $6,000. (Robert Low)

Middleton reached out to Robert Low, a private collector in Ontario who currently owns the sword.

Low said he bought it a few years ago at an estate sale. After some research, he discovered the New Brunswick connection and decided if he ever were to sell the item, it should stay in Canada.

"I had hopes it was going to go to a museum, especially in New Brunswick. I would hate to see it end up in an American collection."

Low has agreed to sell it to Middleton for $6,000, $2,000 below his original asking price.

Wright says he is confident they will be able raise enough money. Like Middleton, he believes that the sword could teach future generations about the past.

"This is so singularly significant to our New Brunswick military heritage," said Wright. "The best option is to keep it here, where it can tell an important part of our Canadian story."