Cannon and drum from the Battle of Gettysburg will be auctioned Saturday, Oct. 12th in Decatur, Ala. A battlefield cannon and drum from the Battle of Gettysburg, plus other Civil War items, will be sold alongside antiques from the historic Dancy-Polk House Inn at an Oct. 12th auction in Decatur, Ala.
officer’s sword with etched blade, stamped “COS” on the blade; an officer’s sword with scabbard, circa 1880; a presentation sword with etched blade (to Thomas W. Cloyd); an antique print of Gen. Robert E. Lee in a walnut frame, published by the John A. Lowell Bank Note Co. (Boston, 1906), 30 inches by 24 inches; guns; buckles; breast plates and other artifacts. In all, over 600 lots will come up for hid Oct. 12.
The Dancy-Polk House Inn is listed on the Alabama and National Register of Historic Places. It was built by Col. Frances Dancy, after he settled there from southern Virginia. The home was later passed down to his granddaughter, Lavinia, who married Capt. Thomas G. Polk. The structure was used as a headquarters for the Union Army when Decatur was under siege.
During the Civil War, Decatur was a strategic location for the South because it was there that the Memphis and Charleston railroads crossed the Tennessee River. Union General William T. Sherman’s famous “march to the sea” was driving deep into Georgia in 1864, but his lifeline ran back to Nashville, where a Union depot supplied food, ammunition and supplies to his men.
Confederate General John Bell Hood felt a strike at Sherman’s supply lines would force the federals into retreat. Hood believed a quick victory in Nashville could reverse the course of the war for the Confederacy, but to achieve that he would have to cross the Tennessee River. Decatur was the attempted point of that crossing, with a railroad and national road big pluses.
After being wrapped in a fierce four-day battle involving mounted troops, gunboats and scores of infantrymen, Hood was forced to abandon the shallow waters at Decatur and regroup westward to cross the river at Florence, Ala. But because the river was overflowing there, it resulted in a three-week delay on the advance, giving Union troops time to prepare for the rebels.
It was U.S. Gen. Dodge, not Sherman, who had captured and fortified Decatur earlier on, burning all but four buildings to house officers. One was the Dancy-Polk House, in the center of Fort Decatur. The home survived Gen. Hood’s four-day attack in 1864 and various other ravages of war and was maintained as a boarding house by the Polks and successive owners after the war.
Today, the Dancy-Polk House Inn retains its original antebellum splendor, with a roster of past visitors that includes the Confederate General “Fightin’ Joe” Wheeler, as well as Union Generals Ely Lilly, James Garfield (who went on to become a U.S. President), Turchin, Dodge, Doolittle and the notorious Frank James, who boarded at the residence prior to his surrender.
There will be no Internet bidding for this auction, but phone and absentee bids will be accepted. Previews will be held on Sunday, Oct. 6, from 1-6 p.m. and Friday, Oct. 11, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Recommended accommodations for the auction are the Amberley Suites, located directly across the from the Dancy-Polk House Inn.