SAN DIEGO – The officers and crew of the guided missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) accepted temporary custody of a Civil War sword from the Battle of Chancellorsville, May 26.
During a special “passing of the sword” ceremony, Sharron Martin, the ship’s sponsor, presented the sword to the commanding officer on behalf of Susan Keith and her family
The ceremony provided Martin with an opportunity to connect with Chancellorsville Sailors before the ship joins the Forward Deployed Naval Forces in Yokosuka, Japan later this summer. It also helped to establish a bond between the Chancellorsville crew and Keith, who is the sponsor of the littoral combat ship USS Coronado (LCS 4) which is also homeported in San Diego.
“The sword belonged to Union Army Capt. Edson J. Rice; Company A, 57th infantry, in the Pennsylvania volunteers,” said Keith. “He was first wounded at the Battle of Fair Oaks in May of 1862, but recovered. He died May 3 at the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863.”
Keith said that after doing some additional research she found that he was a first cousin (once removed) of her great grandfather.
“Edson's mother sent four sons off to war, and only one returned”, said Keith.
Capt. Curt Renshaw, Chancellorsville’s commanding officer, said he was happy to accept the family heirloom that now links the Keith and Chancellorsville families.
“After 152 years I can think of no place better for the sword to to be displayed except USS Chancellorsville,” said Renshaw. “I think it should definitely be ‘on loan’ since someday many years from now, the ship will be decommissioned and should return to the family.”
The Battle of Chancellorsville was a major battle of the American Civil War, and the principal engagement of the Chancellorsville Campaign. It was fought from April 30 to May 6, 1863, in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, about ten miles west of Fredericksburg.
Chancellorsville is known as Confederate General Robert E. Lee's "perfect battle" because his risky decision to divide his army in the presence of a much larger enemy force resulted in a significant Confederate victory.
As part of the FDNF, Chancellorsville will enhance presence in 7th Fleet as part of the U.S. Navy's long-range plan to send the most advanced and capable units to the Asia-Pacific region. Future missions will include maritime security operations and cooperative training exercises with allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region.