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A Civil War Sword





          This is the sword that family tradition says that Mike Foster brought home with him from the Civil War.  Mike Foster either gave this sword to his younger brother John Foster (1844-1919) or it passed to John upon Mike’s early death (1875 at age 34) from his war injuries.   From John the sword passed to his daughter, Ida May Foster (1877-1944) who married Walter Henderson Keister.  When Ida Keister died in 1944, the sword passed to her son, Harry Price Keister (1902-1954) and then his wife Margaret Howell Keister (1908-1992).

            The sword is actually an 1850 model Militia sword with its original metal scabbard. It is possible that Mike Foster acquired this sword before the Civil War when he was a member of the Monroe Guards, a unit organized in 1859 after John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry. 



Michael Foster’s Civil War Record


From 4th Virginia Infantry by Dr. James Robertson

Foster, Michael A. "Mike": Pvt. Co. D

            Born-Red Sulfer District, Monroe County, 1841

            Enlisted-5/9/1861 at Union           Age 21                        Farmer

            Present until absent sick with typhoid fever in Charlottesville

                        hospital 10/13-31/1861

            Absent on leave 11/16/1861 for 20 days

            Present 1/2/1862

            Absent sick in Lynchburg hospital 3-4/1862

            AWOL 10/24-12/14/1862

            Present 12/15/1862- 2/1864

            Issued clothing 3/31, 4/20, 5/31, 9/17, 10/1, 11/1 and 12/l/1864

            Wounded in Action (hip, bladder and thigh) Hatcher's Run 2/9/1865

            Absent wounded in Petersburg hospital until captured there 4/3/65

            Released from hospital 12/l/1865

            The Lexington Gazette reported in 1893, "Mike Foster, Monroe Guards, 27th VA wounded repeatidy presented a laurel wreath by Gen. R. E. Lee as the bravest and most efficient soldier in the Stonewall Brigade while in hospital Richmond in 1863. Wounded and captured at Hatcher's Run April 1865 (sic). Gen. Gordon offered 50 Federal prisoners of war to get him back. He was terribly wounded and died from the effects" at Forest Hills, WVA 5/22/1875. Buried Forest Hills, WVA. Confederate Veterans Camp in Monroe WVA named in his honor. "Was distinguished for gallantry on every battlefield."


            The Stonewall Brigade was probably the most famous brigade of the Civil War.  It earned it’s name at the battle of 1st Bull Run propelling “Stonewall” Jackson to immediate fame.  To be given the title by General Lee “the bravest and most efficient soldier in the Stonewall Brigade” is the highest honor any Confederate soldier could hope for.

            In addition to the 1st battle of Bull Run, Michael Foster fought in the Seven Days, Cedar Mountain, Brawner’s Farm, 2nd Bull Run, Sharpsburg, Gettysburg, The Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Cold Harbor, Lynchburg, Monocacy, and Cedar Creek.