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PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2023 10:09 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 9:33 pm
Posts: 297
Location: Old Northwest (Michigan)
Fellow Sharpshooters

Brian White discovered this fascinating episode on the Antique Roadshow and forwarded it to me. The episode covers a pair of swords brought to the Road Show for appraisal.

The swords had been owned by Captain John Hetherington of Co. D 1st USSS. Born in 1840 in Cherry Valley, NY, by age 20, Hetherington had already established one of the most successful honeybee businesses in the state of New York. He was one of the original members to enlist in Company D, and steadily rose through the ranks. On July 2, 1863, Hetherington assumed command of the company following the mortal wounding of Captain Charles D. McClean at Pitzers Wood at Gettysburg.

On page 467 of the Regimental History is an illustration of Captain Hetherington carrying his sword at the time of his wounding at Jerusalem Plank Road (July 22, 1864). The Plank Road expedition was part of the disastrous Second Corps attempt to cut the Weldon Railroad south of Petersburg. On this day, Captain Hetherington commanded the 1st USSS, after Captain John Wilson had fallen ill.

Captain Hetherington’s sword was shattered by a bullet, and a piece driven through his hand. This engraving shows this piece lying beside the broken sword, while the portrait (on the opposite page) shows the position of the sword and hand. He had thrown his rubber blanket across the hilt of his sword and that over his shoulder. Providentially, the bullet, so well directed, found a lodgment in his sword and hand, instead of his heart, which lay beneath.

Following his wounding, Capt. Hetherington had thrown the useless sword away. Fortunately, his men recovered the sword and scabbard. Captain Hetherington’s health was shattered and it took nearly two years before he recovered to return to his beekeeping enterprise, and rose to become a highly respected member of his community and state.

Before moving to Traverse City, Mike Stiles (owner of the Superior Cap Co. and founder of the 'Lake Shore Tigers' reenactment group), resided in Cherry Valley and ran a antique shop there. In the early 2000’s Mike was asked to come and appraise the contents of a trunk that had been discovered in the attic of an old home. When Mike opened the trunk, lying on top was Captain Hetherington’s broken sword, among a treasure trove of other artifacts associated with his USSS service.

Enjoy the video. Here is the link:

Bill Skillman

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