Hunt for History Leads to Washington’s Sword

My husband, Major General Steve Danner, has received many gifts for gallantry and leadership during his 40-plus years in the Army.

However, he has never received and does not have an officer’s dress sword. Dress swords are used for various ceremonial proceedings, including, among other activities: change-of-command ceremonies; weddings; and other formal events. Steeped in history, purpose and pride, wearing the sword at such events is symbolic of liberty and strength. Steve and I decided to do some research to find an appropriate reproduction that would represent his life’s work.

For inspiration, we only had to look at a piece of history on display outside of Steve’s office at the Ike Skelton Training Site in Jefferson City, his command headquarters of the Missouri National Guard. (The Ike Skelton Training Site is also the home of the Museum of Missouri Military History, which is open for free public tours, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday thru Friday.)

Washington Reviewing His Troops
Washington Reviewing His Troops at Valley Forge ~ William T. Trego

Outside of his office, there is a reproduction of the famous William T. Trego painting: Washington Reviewing His Troops at Valley Forge.

The art print is not only historical; it is a sentimental gift, presented to General Danner by his mother, Congresswoman Pat Danner, upon his swearing in as The Adjutant General of Missouri.

During the era of George Washington, an officer and gentleman would no more leave his quarters without his sword then he would leave without his trousers. We wondered: What did George Washington use as a ceremonial sword? A quick Google search showed a number of swords Washington used; some ceremonial, others battle worthy. One particular sword caught Steve’s eye. It was made of forged steel with a grooved blade and a grip of green dyed ivory and had silver strip decoration.

The Lafayette-Washington Sword
The Lafayette-Washington Sword

This particular sword is said to have been presented to General Washington by the Marquis de Lafayette. Washington, in turn, presented the sword to Chaplain John Gano, who served as the chaplain to Colonel Webb, General Clinton, and later General Washington during the Revolutionary War. At a meeting in Newburgh, New York, celebrating the Treaty of Paris (the treaty which officially ended the American Revolutionary War), General Washington called upon Chaplain Gano to offer a prayer of thanksgiving.

That sword is now on display in the John Gano Memorial Chapel, located on the campus of William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri. No fooling – right in the backyard of where I grew up and where our family still lives.

Last weekend, Steve and I took a side-trip to “Jewell,” as we always refer to the campus. And right there, in full view just inside the Gano Chapel, is Washington’s sword. It is historic and inspirational.

Go see it! A map to Gano Chapel is posted below.

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