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Auction of Civil War soldier's skull found at Gettysburg canceled

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Estate Auction Company had hoped the auction of the skull would sell for between $50,000 and $250,000.

An auction company late Monday canceled plans to sell the skull of a Civil War soldier and military items found near Gettysburg, Pa., MyFoxDC.com reported.

After facing mounting criticism, the Estate Auction Company, which had hoped the skull would sell for between $50,000 and $250,000, will instead hand over the skull to the Gettysburg National Military Park, auctioneer Thomas Taylor said.

Katie Lawhon, spokeswoman for Gettysburg National Military Park, had described the proposed sale as "very unfortunate.”

U.S. National Park Service officials said there are still undiscovered soldier remains at Gettysburg and treat the entire battlefield as a sacred burial ground, Lawhon said.

The park service had earlier called for the skull to be donated for burial in the Soldiers National Cemetery at Gettysburg. The Battle of Gettysburg is remembered as a major battle in the war where about 45,000 troops were killed or injured.

"I can't think of anything more grotesque or disrespectful than auctioning off the remains of a soldier who may have been one of those, as Lincoln put it, who gave their lives that the nation might live. The skull belongs in the Gettysburg Soldiers Cemetery, not on the auction block. I have nothing against passionate collecting. But this is desecration," Harold Holzer, an author and expert on President Lincoln, told The Washington Post in an email.

This particular skull was discovered in 1949 on private land, Reuters reported. It was on the site of a Confederate field hospital with a breastplate from a Louisiana unit of the Confederate Army nearby.  

"Our goal is to respect the memory of those who fought and died here," Lawhon said. "These human remains should be buried with honors in the Soldier's National Cemetery."

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