Did a Civil War veteran's skull almost end up on someone's mantle?
A Hershey, Pa., auction house had solicited bids for what it described as a neat historical artifact, but facing protest threats, Estate Auction Co. agreed to donate the remains to the federal museum at the Gettysburg battle site.
"Due to an outpouring of concern from people across the nation about a planned auction of the skull of a Civil War soldier reportedly killed at Gettysburg, the soldier's remains will not be sold and have been donated to the Gettysburg Foundation," the foundation and U.S National Park Service said in a statement Tuesday.
Authorities are trying to verify the claim that the skull was discovered in 1949 during digging at a private farm, where a Civil War hospital may have stood in the 1860s. The U.S. did not acquire the land until 2001.
If deemed to be accurate, the skull would given a formal military burial in the Soldiers' National Cemetery, where President Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address.
The auction had been scheduled to take place this week at a hotel in Hagerstown, Md. But the hotel was threatened with protests, federal officials said. The hotel manager then called Gettysburg officials and said the auctioneer wanted to donate the skull.
“We are thankful to have the opportunity to honor what is very likely an American veteran and have his final resting place recognized,” Gettysburg Supt. Ed Clark said in a statement. “The outpouring of support, passion and concern from American citizens made the difference and a positive outcome was achieved.”
The auction of a veteran's remains would be been the first of its kind to be witnessed by Gettysburg officials. Now, many museum supporters are awaiting the chance to possibly honor the fallen soldier at the burial.
Nearly 1 in 3 of the 158,000 soldiers who fought at Gettysburg died, according to the Army.