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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.
Late Monday, June 2, the president of the Gettysburg Foundation, Joanne Hanley, accepted the donation from auctioneer Tom Taylor of Estate Auctions of Hershey, Pa. The sale was set to take place in Hagerstown, Maryland. The owner of the collection wished to remain anonymous.
The Gettysburg Foundation will work with the National Park Service to authenticate the human remains. Once provenance of the remains has been verified, the Gettysburg Foundation will donate them to Gettysburg National Military Park for interment with full military honors in the Soldiers' National Cemetery at Gettysburg.
In response to news coverage of the planned auction, an unprecedented outcry from concerned citizens overwhelmed organizers of the auction, and included threats of a riot, according to the manager of the hotel in Hagerstown, Maryland, where the auction was going to take place.
Late in the afternoon on June 2, the hotel manager contacted the park on behalf of the auctioneers to offer the donation of the remains to the park for a respectful burial in the National Cemetery.
The remains are now in storage at the Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center pending verification of their authenticity.
"We are thankful to have the opportunity to honor what is very likely an American veteran and have his final resting place recognized," said Ed W. Clark, Superintendent of Gettysburg National Military Park. "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," said Joanne Hanley. "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 Tom Taylor, Estate Auctions.
Gettysburg National Military Park is a unit of the National Park System that preserves and protects the resources associated with the Battle of Gettysburg and the Soldiers' National Cemetery, and provides an understanding of the events that occurred there within the context of American History. Information is available at www.nps.gov/gett.
The Gettysburg Foundation is a non-profit educational organization working in partnership with the National Park Service to enhance preservation and understanding of the heritage and lasting significance of Gettysburg. The Foundation raised funds for and now operates the Museum and Visitor Center at Gettysburg National Military Park, which opened in April 2008. In addition to operating the Museum and Visitor Center, the Foundation has a broad preservation mission that includes land, monument and artifact preservation and battlefield rehabilitation—all in support of the National Park Service's goals at Gettysburg. Information is available at www.gettysburgfoundation.org.