The sword's hilt.
The sword’s hilt. Stuart C. Mowbray Photography

In 1863, Col. Robert Gould Shaw led the 54th Massachusetts Infantry, the Civil War’s first all-black regiment, into battle in South Carolina. Shaw carried a sword, and when he was killed in battle, that sword disappeared. Two years later, it was rediscovered and given to his parents, CBS News reports. But then, in the course of time, it was lost again.

Turns out, it was sitting in an attic in Massachusetts’ North Shore, not far from Boston. Recently, descendants of Shaw’s sister were sorting through attic storage, when they came across a sword.

A full view of the sword.
A full view of the sword. Stuart C. Mowbray Photography

“Uh oh. There are three initial on it: RGS,” Mary Minturn Wood told her brother, as CBS News reports.

He replied: “Ohhh, this is the sword.”

The family has now handed this relic over to the Massachusetts Historical Society, along with family papers and letters, photographs, and other artifacts. The sword is the highlight of the collection: It is, says the society’s curator, is “a magnificent specimen of a sword… exactly what a colonel would carry in a war.”