Tuesday, April 21

The Lincoln Special

Martyred president Abraham Lincoln's body lay in state in the East Room of the White House which was open to the public on Tuesday, April 18, 1865. On Wednesday, April 19, a funeral service was held and then the coffin was transported to the Capitol Rotunda, where a ceremonial burial service was held. The body again laid in state on Thursday, April 20 and early on the morning of Friday, April 21 a prayer service was held for the Lincoln cabinet. 

At 7 a.m. on Friday, April 21, 1865, the coffin was taken by honor guard to the funeral car and at 8 a.m. the train departed. At least 10,000 people witnessed the train's departure from Washington.

The funeral train consisted of nine cars, including a baggage and hearse car which contained the coffins of Lincoln and his son, William "Willie" Wallace Lincoln, who had died on Feb. 20, 1862 at the age of 11 of typhoid fever during Lincoln’s second year in office.

Lincoln's eldest son Robert Todd Lincoln rode the train to Baltimore and then returned to the White House to be with his mother and surviving brother, Tad. (Robert took a train to Springfield on May 1, 1865 to attend his father's final funeral.) Mary Todd Lincoln, who was too distraught to make the trip, didn't return to Illinois until May 22, 1865.

The train retraced most of the route president-elect Lincoln had traveled on his way to Washington and his first inauguration in 1861, and millions of Americans viewed the train along the route in the following cities:

  • Washington, D.C.
  • Baltimore, Maryland, April 21, 1865
  • Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, April 21, 1865
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 22, 1865
  • New York City, April 24, 1865
  • Albany, New York, April 25, 1865
  • Buffalo, New York, April 27, 1865
  • Cleveland, Ohio, April 28, 1865
  • Columbus, Ohio, April 29, 1865
  • Indianapolis, Indiana, April 30, 1865
  • Michigan City, Indiana, May 1, 1865
  • Chicago, Illinois, May 1, 1865
  • Springfield, Illinois, May 3, 1865

The train passed 444 communities, 180 cities, and seven states. (Lincoln was not viewed in state in New Jersey).

However, assassin John Wilkes Booth was still on the run as of April 21, 1865.

Booth was not the hero he thought he would be. Newspapers called him an "accursed devil," "monster," "madman," and a "wretched fiend." Even in the South, Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston called Booth's act "a disgrace to the age," and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee expressed regret at Lincoln's assassination.

Not all were grief-stricken, however. In New York City, a man was attacked by an enraged crowd when he shouted, "It served Old Abe right!" after hearing the news of Lincoln's death.

(Momma's great-great-grandfather, who had mustered out of the 58th OVI on Jan. 8, 1865, was back in Hocking County, Ohio when he heard of the assassination. When a local man cheered at the news, Momma's great-great-grandfather punched him in the face -- knocking him off the split-rail fence he was sitting upon and breaking his jaw.)

Booth would remain on the run until cornered, shot, and killed in a tobacco barn just south of Port Royal, Caroline County, Virginia on April 26, 1865.

Tuesday, April 14

Now he belongs to the ages

On the night Abraham Lincoln was shot, April 14, 1865, Associated Press correspondent Lawrence Gobright scrambled to report from the White House, the streets of the stricken capital, and even from the blood-stained box at Ford's Theatre, where, in his memoir he reports he was handed the assassin's gun and turned it over to authorities. Here is an edited version of his original AP dispatch:


WASHINGTON, APRIL 14 - President Lincoln and wife visited Ford's Theatre this evening for the purpose of witnessing the performance of 'The (sic) American Cousin.' It was announced in the papers that Gen. Grant would also be present, but that gentleman took the late train of cars for New Jersey.

The theatre was densely crowded, and everybody seemed delighted with the scene before them. During the third act and while there was a temporary pause for one of the actors to enter, a sharp report of a pistol was heard, which merely attracted attention, but suggested nothing serious until a man rushed to the front of the President's box, waving a long dagger in his right hand, exclaiming, 'Sic semper tyrannis,' and immediately leaped from the box, which was in the second tier, to the stage beneath, and ran across to the opposite side, made his escape amid the bewilderment of the audience from the rear of the theatre, and mounted a horse and fled.

The groans of Mrs. Lincoln first disclosed the fact that the President had been shot, when all present rose to their feet rushing towards the stage, many exclaiming, 'Hang him, hang him!' The excitement was of the wildest possible description...

There was a rush towards the President's box, when cries were heard - 'Stand back and give him air!' 'Has anyone stimulants?' On a hasty examination it was found that the President had been shot through the head above and back of the temporal bone, and that some of his brain was oozing out. He was removed to a private house opposite the theatre, and the Surgeon General of the Army and other surgeons were sent for to attend to his condition.

On an examination of the private box, blood was discovered on the back of the cushioned rocking chair on which the President had been sitting; also on the partition and on the floor. A common single-barrelled pocket pistol was found on the carpet.

A military guard was placed in front of the private residence to which the President had been conveyed. An immense crowd was in front of it, all deeply anxious to learn the condition of the President.

It had been previously announced that the wound was mortal, but all hoped otherwise. ...

At midnight the Cabinet, with Messrs. Sumner, Colfax and Farnsworth, Judge Curtis, Governor Oglesby, Gen. Meigs, Col. Hay, and a few personal friends, with Surgeon General Barnes and his immediate assistants, were around his bedside.

The President was in a state of syncope, totally insensible and breathing slowly. The blood oozed from the wound at the back of his head. The surgeons exhausted every effort of medical skill, but all hope was gone.

The parting of his family with the dying President is too sad for description....


Lincoln's death at 7:22 a.m. on April 15, 1865 was reported by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

Monday, April 13

Friend or foe

Steampunk Red Riding Hood by Madame Alexander $199.95
Red Riding Hood isn't so little anymore! She makes a whimsical appearance in the 2015 Madame Alexander line as a 16 inch Alex doll with a steampunk twist. She is made of vinyl and fully articulated. A 2015 Madame Alexander doll. Suitable for ages 14 and up.
Momma and I love the wolf's tail!

Thursday, April 9

The Silent Witness

On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered his once formidable army of Northern Virginia to three Federal armies under General Ulysses S. Grant. The terms of surrender were set about noon during a one and a half hour meeting between the two generals in the parlor of the McLean Home.

(The First Battle of Bull Run, also known as the First Battle of Manassas, took place on July 21, 1861 at the farm of Wilmer McLean of Bull Run, Virginia. Soon after that battle the upper middle class family moved to the village of Clover Hill, Virginia - the name of which was changed to "Appomattox Court House.")

Wilmer and Virginia McLean had four daughters and a son. Sometime before Lee and Grant met that Palm Sunday afternoon, 7-year-old Lula McLean had left her favorite doll in the parlor.

The rag doll remained in the room where Lula had left it while the generals met. When the meeting ended, Union officers - anxious to obtain souvenirs of the event - plundered the McLeans' parlor appropriating items ... including Lula's rag doll.

Colonel Horace Porter of General Grant's staff, wrote: "A child's doll was found in the room, which the younger officers tossed from one to the other, and called 'The Silent Witness.'"

One of the cavorting Federal staff officers was Captain Robert Todd Lincoln, son of the President of the United States. The doll was taken from the home by Capt. Thomas W.C. Moore, of Major General Sheridan's staff. For well over a century, the Moore family kept the doll as a "war trophy" of sorts. Poor Lula never saw her beloved rag doll again.

Lula's descendants remembered the doll as "...lovingly handmade by a doting mother."

The body of the doll was made of coarse unbleached cotton and stuffed. Inked on the simple, round face were eyes and nothing more. Printed cotton fabric was stitched together to fashion a bodice, skirt and leggings.

Lula's doll was donated to Appomattox Court House National Historical Park in December 1992, and is now on permanent exhibit at the park.

Sunday, April 5

Hail thee, festival day!

Hail thee, festival day!
Blest day that art hallowed forever;
day wherein Christ arose,
breaking the kingdom of death.

This week in the Civil War: April 5, 1865

Lee Surrenders

Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered this week 150 years ago in the Civil War, after four years of bloodshed that had claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. After days of fighting and fleeing had left his forces haggard, hungry and surrounded, Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia on April 9, 1865, to the Union's Ulysses S. Grant at the McLean House at Appomattox Court House. Grant allowed for the parole of the Confederate officers and enlisted men but said all weapons and war equipment would be surrendered. The end of Lee's fighting force came after federal troops had relentlessly pursued and pummeled Lee's troops westward across the Virginia countryside. The Associated Press reported the details of the surrender, noting Lee had crossed the Appomattox River and burned bridges, seeking a position away from the river. But Union forces "attacked them vigorously" in the hours before the end, convincing Lee the fight was over. AP cited accounts as saying "the road for miles was strewn with broken down wagons, caissons, and baggage of all kinds, presenting a scene seldom witnessed on the part of Lee's army." AP reported that "the rank and file of Lee's army are said to be well satisfied to give up the struggle, believing that they have no hope of success." And AP added that the formal surrender came later at the country home, leaving the Confederates forces 'at liberty to proceed to their homes or elsewhere, as they chose."