What is the Appling Sword?
The sword is an elaborate ceremonial sword
purchased by the General Assembly in 1814 to be presented to Daniel Appling, a hero of the War of 1812. Appling died before
the sword could be presented, so the legislature voted to keep the sword and display it in the Governor’s Office “as
a lasting monument to [Appling’s] fame, and a grateful proof of the sensibility with which Georgia cherishes the recollection
of the patriotic services of her citizens.” The sword was forged by the finest craftsmen and contains the inscription,
“ PRESENTED, by the State of Georgia, to her son, the brave and gallant Lieut. Colonel Daniel
Appling, of the U.S. Army, for his cool and deliberate valor displayed throughout the action of the 30th of May, 1814, at
Sandy Creek, when he succeeded in capturing a superior British force.”
did the sword leave the Governor’s Office?
In 1883 one of the legislators noted that Appling’s “sword of honor” was not being
cared for adequately and so the legislature voted to deposit the sword “in the archives of the Georgia Historical Society…until
the State shall have provided a proper archives department.”
When did the sword leave the Georgia Historical Society?
In 1906 the legislature retrieved the Appling Sword (along with several
other artifacts) from the Historical Society and sent it to be displayed in Georgia’s building at the Jamestown Exposition
(the fair that celebrated the 300th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown).
Did the sword ever return from Jamestown?
No one knows. There is evidence that some of the artifacts were not
returned from Jamestown, but there is no record of what happened to the sword specifically. The state established an archives
in 1918, and the sword should have gone to the archives at that time, but there is no positive proof in either the records
of the Georgia Archives or the Georgia Historical Society that this happened. A thorough search of the records shows no mention
of the sword after 1907 except in a few notes (written in the 1980s) conjecturing that the sword may have been lost or stolen. Was the sword stolen?No one knows how the sword left state custody. It is possible that the sword was removed in a valid manner—the
professional practices that govern how a museum or archives removes items from its collection did not develop until the 1970s,
so the sword could have been removed from state custody after 1907 in a way that was legitimate at the time.
Where is the sword now?
The sword is owned by an antiques dealer outside of Georgia, who
has offered to work with the state to see the sword returned to Georgia.
Why was Appling a hero?
During the War of 1812 Daniel Appling was sent
with his rifleman and some Indian allies to sneak around a British blockade and deliver the cannon needed to build three warships.
The British learned of the plan and sent a large force to intercept Appling. Rather than withdraw, Appling hid his men in
the woods along the creek and ambushed the British troops. His small force defeated over 200 British troops, capturing 143,
and the vital warships were supplied. Later in the war, Appling and only 110 riflemen managed to delay 8,200 British troops
during the Battle of Plattsburgh. Appling’s heroics helped win what is considered the most decisive battle of the War