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.

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