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Gettysburg battlefield skull won't be sold

A skull believed to belong to a soldier killed at Gettysburg has been returned to the battlefield where he sacrificed his life.

The remains currently are in storage at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center pending verification of their authenticity.

The donation to the Gettysburg Foundation on Monday came a day before a planned auction of the human skull along with other Civil War artifacts.

Foundation President Joanne Hanley accepted the donation from auctioneer Tom Taylor. The sale was set to take place today at 1 p.m. in Hagerstown, Md., but the plan raised a storm of protest. The owner of the collection has not been identified.

If the remains are proved genuine, the foundation will donate them to Gettysburg National Military Park for burial with full honors in the Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg.

That cemetery is where President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address in November 1863, four months after the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. More than 3,500 Union soldiers, including many whose identities remain unknown, are buried there.

"We are thankful to have the opportunity to honor what is very likely an American veteran and have his final resting place recognized," Ed W. Clark, superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park, said in a statement. "The outpouring of support, passion and concern from American citizens made the difference and a positive outcome was achieved."

"We are extremely grateful to the owners of the collection for making this decision, and to Tom Taylor, the auctioneer, for helping make it happen," Ms. Hanley said. "It truly was the right decision to return these remains to Gettysburg, providing the integrity and dignity this veteran deserves."

"I am very honored that we can do this with the Gettysburg Foundation and the National Park Service so that the remains are properly handled and his service will be recognized," said Mr. Taylor, president and CEO of Estate Auctions.

The Associated Press contributed.

lbarcousky@post-gazette.com
 

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