June 2000 Weekly Firesides

Note from Jayne- January 2004:  The June Weekly Firesides were condensed into one large one by GFS Gary back in June 2000

"The Weekly Fireside"

American Civil War History Special Interest Group
Submitted by the Civil War Team: 
Host GFS Jim, Host GFS Jayne, Host GFS TEG, and Ldrs. GFH Amy
Edited by Host GFS Gary

Mission Statement: To serve all genealogists by providing an enjoyable online environment with as many helpful and reliable resources as possible.

WHAT WE ARE ABOUT

OUR FOCUS: the "History of the American (United States) Civil War".

 OUR GOAL: to enhance your Genealogy activity, knowledge, and "wisdom" by talking about the history surrounding their lives and actions; specifically the "Civil War" that our ancestors lived through and died because of.

Captain Oliver Wendell Holmes of the 20th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment said it so well.

"I think it is a noble and pious thing
To do whatever we may by written
Word or molded bronze and sculpted
Stone to keep our memories, our
Reverence and our love alive and
To hand them on to new generations
All too ready to forget."

The Editors Corner

Weekly Fireside Staff

The Editor's Corner:

 Well, we'd certainly love to thank all of you for your loyal support of our American Civil War History SIG over the years. We have forged many great on-line friendships and "faithful followers" in our common interest and we cherish you for it. We seemed to have developed a great comraderie and have shared ups and downs and the goods and bads... In the middle of all this we still get great new visitors who are excited about their research in the area and some nights we (Jayne, Tom, Amy and myself) are hard-pressed to keep up with your questions and comments. We try extra hard to make sure that we greet each and every one that enters our domain, but sometimes we just miss seeing you or we're distracted following up on someone else's question. If you have experienced that, then "Oh My" we heartily appoligize and sincerely hope you don't think we don'tT care, 'cause we surely do. We just ask that you "bear with us" during the chaos and give us a chance to catch up or just "Ring our Bell" a few more times and get our attention. Another small courtesy we ask of you is that if you enter the Chat Room before the "On-Stage SIG" is still going on and some of us are in the "room" getting ready for shift change, please "talk" to us by using Instant Messaging (|Ms) so that we don't disrupt the conversations and information going on in the "On-Stage SIG". HOST GFS Jayne, TEG, myself and LDRS GFH Amy do this as well out of courtesy to the HOSTs still working. You folks are just great and this note isn't from any "incident" but we're working across the Genealogy Forum to improve "Shift Change" everywhere and these are some "Golden Rules" that have instituted on ourselves and thought is smart to pass this on to you folk, just in case you thought we were Acting Strange! Heh Heh - of course we NEVER act strange..... We're the most normal people we know..... "that gave me a giggle!"
Thanks for hanging in there with us... Jayne, Tom, Amy and Jim 

Music To Research By

Music: Man Oh Man I gotta tell you about this Musical I went to yesterday. I was presented with two tickets about 2 weeks ago (for my birthday) to the musical "The Civil War" by Frank Wildhorn, Gregory Boyd and Jack Murphy. Absolutely fabulous is all I can say. The music was all original for the musical and included songs such as "Brother My Brother", "Judgement Day", "Virginia", "Old Gray Coat", "Father, How Long", "I'll Never Pass This Way Again", "Last Waltz for Dixie", and many more. The singing Cast was premiered by Larry Gatlin (of the Gatlin Brothers Fame) BeBe Winans (Gospel Singer extraordinare), Michale Lanning (Tenor), Moses Braxton (his Bass voice is incredible, Heh Heh.. he goes so low, there's nowhere else to go) B.J. Crosby (that lady can get it on). This Musical is touring the country and they're currently in Denver, Colorado until the 23rd of June. For all of you in the Denver vicinity, check it out. You'll be glad you did!! If I can get their summer schedule I'll publish it for you. A thoroughly enjoyable event and a great message.
HOST GFS Jim

THE HELP DESK

This segment is to address specific questions that hit our plate on Thursday night that we didn't have a chance to answer or needed a bit of time to check it out. Hope these answer the mail :D

Submitters Note: Regimental Histories and Letters, etc. Postings: keyword "roots," after which will bring you to the main screen of the Genealogy Forum. Select the "Files Library Center," then "History Files". At that point select "Civil War Files." Lectures and the Letters, Songs and Poems evenings are also posted in the "Files Library Center" under "History Lectures" as the Lecture Subject. The "Firesides" when they eventually get there after their 30 days in the New Files section are posted in the "Files Library Center" under "Meeting Logs and Newsletters".

I've also posted ALL the "Weekly Firesides" we've done since the first of the year (2000) into the Genealogy Forum's New Files area for your enjoyment. Give GFA Terry a few days to get them posted and then grab what you want. All New Files are uploaded to the New Files Area for about 30 days and then they will be moved to their proper archive. In the case of the Weekly Firesides, you'll find them in the Files Library under Newsletters. 

Bits of Blue and Gray

Just a note to let you  know the new Bits of Blue and Gray column is now available to read.
You can access all of the articles and military links for each of the states by going to the Bits of Blue and Gray homepage and clicking on the article you want to read: 

Bits of Blue and Gray 
(http://www..stategensites.com/bitsofblueandgray)   (Site is no longer in existence)

I hope you're enjoying the trivia questions and learning from them.  If any of you has trivia questions I could use, I sure do wish you'd send them to me along with the answers and a source verifying it... unless you don't mind if I use your screen name as the source.  At the site you'll also find a Message Board where you can leave suggestions, ask questions and make comments.

HOST GFS Jayne

For other columns and genealogical information go to StateGenSites  http://www.stategensites.com/ (This site no longer works)

Weekly Web Sites We've Received

HOST GFS Jayne 
Civil War Prisoners at Libby
http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Prairie/9362/prison.html

MOA Collection - searchable
http://library5.library.cornell.edu/moa/

IrishinCal
New York Forts
http://www.dmna.state.ny.us/forts/forts.html

Civil War Descendant Search (IOWA)
http://www.iowa-counties.com/civilwar/search-descendants.asp

Iowa Counties Genealogy Page (note: CW data in Blackhawk County page)
http://www.iowa-counties.com/gene/index.htm

CADaubs
Military Records: Civil War Prisons 
http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/9787/cwprison.html

AJWRJW
Civil War Letters
http://members.home.net/jkohl/

Members Helping Members!..

Here's how it works.. If you are trying to get photographs of a gravesite or battlefield, to collect for your Civil War ancestor research and records, then send us a request and we will post it here... Other members seeing your request and being in the near vicinity, and are willing to assist can email you direct (this protects your privacy) and work out the details. We HIGHLY recommend the "Requester" pay for all film costs and any postage involved for a helping member. This is intended to be a "Free" assistance between members (with the exception of defraying film and postage costs). Do unto others as.... you know :-) Keep us posted on how this is working, so we can share them in the "Fireside"!!

Host GFS Jim

IF YOU HAVE RECEIVED ANSWER(S) TO YOUR QUESTIONS, PLEASE BE SURE TO LET US KNOW!!!!!

Thanks!! - The Editors

 

We have had some gracious members offer their assistance in this area. Their screen names and areas they have offered to help in are listed.... Please honor their "goodness" and don't abuse them :-).... We ask that you do follow the guidelines indicated above...

From: HOST GFS Jim
We had a lot of questions about finding Civil War Ancestors last Thursday, and I thought it beneficial to add these two Volume Sets of reference material that Broadfoot Publishing has come out with in the last number of years.

The Roster of Confederate Soldiers
1861 - 1865
Edited by Janet B. Hewett
Published by Broadfoot Publishing
Company, Wilmington, NC., 1995
:
There are 16 Volumes of these rosters
all assembled in Surname Alphabetical
Order listing their Regiment and Company.

The Roster of Union Soldiers; 1861 - 1865; 
Edited by Janet B. Hewett; Published by Broadfoot Publishing Company,
Wilmington, North Carolina. This is an update (7/26/99).......

There are 22 Volumes out......
1. Maine & New Hampshire
2. Vermont & Massachusetts (Aaron, Otis F. - Grutter, Christian)
3. Massachusetts (Guared, Thomas - Zydoe, Albert)
4. Missouri (A-P)
5. Missouri (P-Z); Kansas; Arkansas; Louisana; North Carolina; Texas; Alabama; Florida; Georgia; Mississippi
6. Michigan
7. New Jersey & Deleware
8. New York (Aab, Geroge - Culyler, James)
9. New York (Cumber, John - Hemtson, Robinson A.)
10. New York (Hen, Baker - McKuman, James)
11. New York (McLachlon, Archibald - Scoville, Winslow L.)
12. New York (Scrace, Samuel - Zyraggen, Joseph)
13. Ohio (A-F)
14. Ohio (F-M)
15. Ohio (M-S)
16. Ohio (S-Z)
17. Pennsylvania (Aaler, Martin - Fory, John)
18. Pennsylvania (Fosbemier, Levi - Mazy, Joseph)
19. Pennsylvania (McAalccher, Levi - Smythes, Samuel A.)
20. Rhode Island - Connecticut
21. US Colored Troops (Aanderson, Henry - Jente, Peter)
22. U.S. Colored Troups (Joost, John J.H. - Zumwalt, Levi)

I have found that most large Public Libraries around the US have these books in their "History and/or Genealogy" sections. Give them a try.

* * * * * 

From: Privada

Hi Jim, 
This isnt the best scan but the best I can do with a scanner and not a camera. If you need any more info about the bayonet to id it let me know. I put some info in the jpg abt markings and such. One thing I left out was that on the band that holds/ tightens the socket there is a groove that if it slides to far one way or the other a small tit on the socket itself will catch the band on either end of the groove and stop it. I'm sure you've seen these before on other bayonets but thought I'd mention it. There are no other markings other than the ones mentioned in the picture.
The reason I'm having difficulty identifying this bayonet is I've seen several on ebay and what I've gathered is that many are marked US, some marked with crowns (british), etc etc. But I read somewhere that if the bayonet has a US with a R under it it denotes that the bayo was modified in 1870's and if a double 00 after the 1890's. Not exactly sure abt the dates, cant find my notes on this but it was in those timeframes. One fellow on ebay detailed his bayonet with the punch mark, the US and S under like mine as being a confederate bayo but when I wrote to him on details of the book he saw that in all I got was a snide remark back and so.....lol
I never thought I'd get so involved trying to find a Springfield 58 cal bayonet for my 58 cal Colt. ( At a decent price, they are there but some are made of gold dont ya know :> )
The bayonet I have now wont fit a 58 cal , just a tad too small but I know a fellow who will trade only I'd like to know what I have first. Any help could be a big help Jim. Thanks for taking the time, Eddie
I did some "amateurish" research for Eddie on this bayonet and my closest match to what pictures I have, was a "Socket Bayonet" for the U.S. Model 1842 Rifle Musket which was used by North and South. This particular musket was a 69 caliber which would explain why Eddie can't get it to fit on a 58 caliber. He would love any help from you "Pros" in the armaments area... Either email me (HOST GFS Jim) or Eddie (Privada) for a copy of the scanned picture of the bayonet and we'll send it right out. Thanks Folks :-)

From: Purrrphekt
Any Regimental History Information on the 4th Louisiana Cavalry (Confederate) please. And if specifics on Company C are known, that as well.

Thank you....

* * * * * 

From: Livasy4
HI, I am hoping someone knows of a website that lists those who died at Libby Prison in Richmond. Thanks!
Donna


{{{Donna}}} HOST GFS Jayne copied me on this website in response to your query..... Civil War Prisoners at Libby
http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Prairie/9362/prison.html 
Hope that site has what your looking for.

A Bit of Community..

Check out the member inputs for comments and requests for information, Feedback, Items of Interest and Pleas for HELP !!!

Editor's Note: for those of you who are AOL members, I want to encourage you to feel entirely free to post any Civil War Letters, Stories or articles that you have in our Civil War History Files. There is also an area for you to upload photos, if you would desire to share those with the Civil War History community. Use "keyword=roots" to get to the Genealogy Main Screen. Then select Files, followed by selecting History and Culture and there you will find the two upload areas I mentioned: Civil War Files, and Civil War Photos. I would also note that the New Genealogy Forum Web Site is being constructed. On that Web Site, the Civil War History SIG will have an area to link to our Civil War Library (Lectures, Letters, Songs, Poems, Files, Firesides, and Photos). When this is complete then anyone (not just AOL Members) will have access to all our material. We'll be sure to let you know when you can access it.

* * * * * 

SusiCP
Thought you might want to pass this on to the membership. I found it on the Rensselaer County Genweb page: http://www.rootsweb.com/~nyrensse/

Hi Folks,
My name is Ted Myers and I do civil war research
and look-ups, if you are needing help looking for
someone, just let me know. If you should want my help
please send full names only and as much info as
you can. And there is no charge for my services
Ted (TMyers1938@aol.com)

Thanks Susi for the heads up. We never endorse any Professional Genealogist or Reseach Groups that earn their living in that manner via this Newsletter. We will respond off line (via email) if you are asking our opinions about a group or person(s). That assumes we even know them which in many cases we don't Heh Heh . In Ted's case, there is no charge and he's volunteering to aid and assist so we honor that and throw his hat in the ring.

* * * * * 

Bulldogtjr
This just floated in on the tide!!

"Notes on a Family Album"
by Mary F. Heisey
I sit before some photographs
of people I don't know.
Mom said, "They are your relatives,"
But that was long ago.
She used to get the album out
And put me on her knee:
Then pointing, with a story line
Tell family history.
The captions used were all her own,
Each time developed new.
We never thought to write them down
Before her life was through.
I see some family features now:
I have begun to care.
Since Mom is gone, I cannot ask,
"Whose picture is that there?"
If you have photo's in a book
Without a caption, too.
Go get a pen and label them,
Or you may wonder, "Who?"

"Ted" - another keeper heh heh!!

* * * * * 

CADaubs
I love getting my newsletter. I don't get to sit in on chats since I work nights. Keep up the good work! I came across this piece of research from an on-line pal and thought I would pass it on..

{{Cheryl}} Thanks for the note.... I put your URL up in the Web Site area....

* * * * * 

RCorey1998
Cool story about Lincoln, thanks for sharing that with us.
Ruth

{{Ruth}} Glad you liked it. Don't forget to catch Part II in this issue.

* * * * * 

Bulldogtjr
If you receive an email entitled "Badtimes," delete it immediately. Do not open it. Apparently this one is pretty nasty. It will not only erase everything on your hard drive, but it will also delete anything on disks within 20 feet of your computer. It demagnetizes the stripes on ALL of your credit cards. It reprograms your ATM
access code, screws up the tracking on your VCR and uses subspace field harmonics to scratch any CD's you attempt to play. 
It will re-calibrate your refrigerator's coolness settings so all your ice cream melts and your milk curdles. It will program your phone auto dial to call only your mother-in-law's number. This virus will mix antifreeze into your fish tank. It will drink all your beer.
(For God's sake, men, are you listening?!?!)
It will leave dirty socks on the coffee table when you are expecting company. It will replace your shampoo with Nair and your Hair Remover with Rogaine, all while dating your current boy/girlfriend behind your back and billing everything to your Visa card. It will cause you to run with scissors and throw things in a way that is only fun until someone loses an eye. It will rewrite your backup files, changing all your active verbs to passive tense and incorporating undetectable misspellings which grossly change the interpretations of key sentences.
If the "Badtimes" message is opened in a Windows95/98 environment, it will leave the toilet seat up and leave your hair dryer plugged in dangerously close to a full bathtub. It will not only remove the forbidden tags from your mattresses and pillows, it will also refill your skim milk with whole milk.

**WARN AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN.**

TED!!!!! ROTFLOL (that means "Rolling on the Floor Laughin Out Loud") That beats them all. NOTE: to the readers... AS YOU CAN DETECT FROM THIS, IT IS A "JOKE". Don't ya be worrin' none 'bout no "Badtimes" virus... Hee Hee

* * * * * 

FOR ALL YOU 1ST TIMERS ON THURSDAY - "WE REALLY WELCOME YOU TO OUR MERRY BAND."  WE ENJOYED HAVING YOU, TRADING QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS AND ESPECIALLY YOUR CAMARADERIE!!! :-)... COME AGAIN OFTEN, WE DO INDEED "RELISH" YOUR COMPANY..

Every first-timer to the American Civil War History SIG gets put on the newsletter distribution automatically, because we like to send you a "Thank You Card" for coming to visit and this is our way of doing so. We hope to give you an opportunity to jump right in with us. If you desire NOT to receive the newsletter, then just drop us an email saying UNSUBSCRIBE and we will quickly remove your screen name from distribution. We certainly don't want to clog your mailbox with unwanted material. Also many of you pass on the newsletter to others that don't subscribe to AOL. We really want to thank you for spreading the word. I would also like to let you know that we would be happy to add them to our list if they have email of any sort.  We distribute everywhere to those that have requested it. AOL membership is not a requirement although we'd love to see you in the Chat Room :D

AND AGAIN TO YOU "FIRST-TIMERS" THIS WEEK, "Welcome"... :)

We heartily enjoyed your visit and participation. We really "fire up" with what members bring to the discussions, and we hope to see more of you.... Note that for any reason, should you desire to be removed from distribution of this "Weekly Missive," just drop us a line and we will comply with your wishes "post-haste".

Schedule of Upcoming Topics/Events

Time: Every Thursday Night at 11pm ET in the Golden Gates Room with Your Joyful, Intelligent and Fun-lovin' Hosts/Hostesses :-) Host GFS Jim, Host GFS Jayne, Host GFS TEG and LDRS GFH Amy and our many faithful friends :)

07/06/2000 - Open Chat

07/13/2000 - "Letters, Songs and Poems Night" - don't forget to send yours in. We'll be sure to read them :D

07/20/2000 - Another story in the Women in the Civil War Series...  Dorthea Dix. You won't want to miss this one...

07/27/2000 - Open Chat

Your Joyful, Intelligent and Fun-lovin' Host/Hostess :-)

Host GFS Jim, Host GFS Jane, Host GFS Teg and LDRS GFH Amy

We'll See You Thursday Night..!

June's Special Features and Articles

The Price of Being A Patriot

This is probably a repeat for most of you, but since the 4th of July weekend is coming up, I think it bears repeating.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT FOR THIS HOLIDAY WEEKEND!!

Have you ever wondered what happened to the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence?

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors, and tortured before they died.

Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned.

Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary War; another had two sons captured.

Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.

They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. 

What kind of men were they?

Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and large plantation owners; men of means, well educated. But they signed the Declaration of Independence knowing full well that the penalty would be death if they were captured.

Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ships swept from the seas by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.

Thomas McKean was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. He served in the Congress without pay, and his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him, and poverty was his reward.

Vandals or soldiers looted the properties of Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.

At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson, Jr, noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He quietly urged General George Washington to open fire. The home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.

Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.

John Hart was driven from his wife's bedside as she was dying. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and his gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to find his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.

Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates. 

Such were the stories and sacrifices of the American Revolution. These were not wild-eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but they valued liberty more. Standing tall, straight, and unwavering, they pledged "For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."

They gave you and me a free and independent America. The history books never told you a lot about what happened in the Revolutionary War. We didn't fight just the British. We were British subjects at that time and we fought our own government! 

Some of us take these liberties so much for granted, but we shouldn't.

So take a few minutes while enjoying your 4th of July holiday and silently thank these patriots. It's not much to ask for the price they paid.

Remember: freedom is never free!

It's time we get the word out that patriotism is NOT a sin, and the Fourth of July has more to it than beer, picnics, and baseball games.

A Fitful Sleep

For decades following Lincoln's demise his tomb held only more of life's fitful fever. Between his initial entombment in May 1865 and his final burial in September 1901, Lincoln's body was moved more than a dozen time, his coffin opened on several occasions to see if he was still there. The strange and bizarre circumstances that denied him final rest for 36 years provide an ironic postscript to a life that was marked both by greatness and tragedy. 

At 7:30 AM on Saturday, April 15, 1865, the church bells in Washington, DC, began to toll signaling that President Lincoln had succumbed to the bullet wound inflicted the night before at Ford's Theater. Even as the military honor guard escorted Lincoln's body back to the White House from the 10th St. boarding house where he had died, cabinet and other government officials began planning memorial tributes to the slain President that would surpass anything the nation had seen.

On Tuesday, April 18th, thousands of mourners filed through the East room of the White House where Lincoln lay in state beneath the 11 foot high catafalque. The following morning 600 invited guests attended a White House funeral service that was duplicated almost simultaneously in churches across the country. A huge procession then escorted Lincoln's remains up Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol Rotunda, where all day Thursday thousands of mourners streamed past the open coffin.

On Friday morning the President's casket and that of his son Willie, who had died in the White House in 1862 were placed on a 9 car railroad train that would carry them to Springfield, IL.  All along the 1,700 mile route somber crowds gathered to honor their fallen leader. In 10 cities: Baltimore, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, New York, Albany, Rochester, Buffalo, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis and Chicago, Lincoln's coffin was removed from the train for additional memorial processions, public viewing and funeral services.

By the time the black draped train had arrived at its final destination on May 3rd, the  nation's grief had reached a fever pitch. Tens of thousands of visitors swarmed over Springfield.

Not one, but two gravesites awaited Lincoln at Springfield! When word first arrived in the state capitol that its beloved native son's body would repose there, a group of leading citizens, ignoring Mary Lincoln's instructions that her husband be interred in the quiet surroundings of Oak Ridge Cemetery two miles outside of the town, the group purchased a 6 acre site in the center of Springfield. Laboring night and day a stone vault was erected there. Mary Lincoln would have none of it and said that she would relocate the President's grave in Chicago or Washington, DC, if they persisted. The city fathers finally acquiesced to her demands and dispatched carpenters to prepare the public receiving vault at Oak Ridge two days before the funeral.

On May 4th one more procession escorted Lincoln's body from the IL capitol where it had lain in state overnight, to the cemetery and its hillside receiving vault.

Finally, nearly three weeks after the President's death, the last of 12 Lincoln funerals took place at the foot of the knoll that contained his limestone vault. Thousands of mourners, assembled in front of the tomb sang a special hymn "Rest Noble Martyr, Rest in Peace." But the fervent wish was not to be fulfilled.

Six days after the funeral a select group of Springfield citizens again proposed to move the body to the empty tomb in the center of Springfield and erect an elaborate monument. Learning of these intentions in the newspapers Mary Lincoln objected vehemently, as well she might.

At length Springfield relented. With as good grace as could be mustered they turned their attention to Oak Ridge Cemetery and began construction of a brick vault to serve as a temporary resting place until completion of the more elaborate and permanent monument and crypt. Lincoln's body along with those of his sons Willie and Eddie were placed in this repository on December 21, 1865. Six of the President's old friends, officiating as pallbearers at this transfer opened the casket to view his remains before entombing the coffin.

Lincoln's body remained in the temporary vault for about six years while architects completed plans for the monument and committees raised the necessary funds. Then, in September 1871, his casket and those of Willie and Eddie were carried to the catacombs of the partially completed hill top structure. The son "Tad" had died on July 15th and awaited them in the subterranean chambers of the monument.

Lincoln lay undisturbed in his new resting place only a short time. Before the end of 1871 the committee substituted a new iron coffin for the original mahogany one. This accomplished, the committee members turned their attention to completing the monument which included the installation of a marble sarcophagus in the North wall crypt. On October 21, 1874, all was ready for what they hoped would be the body's final placement.

It was not to be. The latest gravesite presented another problem. The iron coffin that in 1871 had replaced the original mahogany one was too long to fit into the sarcophagus. The committee again ordered a new casket, this time of red cedar, heavily lined with lead. Although no formal record was made of the body's identity, the presiding undertaker at the transfer distinctly remembered the features as those of Abraham Lincoln.

With the monument completed and with all in its place, it seemed as though the  committee's work was done. But, in 1876, Lincoln's body suffered a bizarre attack from an unexpected source. A group of crooks in Chicago hatched a plot to steal the President's remains and ransom them for at least $200,000 in cash. After the gang had sawed their way through the padlock that barred access to the crypt, entered the burial chamber and were in the act of removing Lincoln's coffin from the sarcophagus, they were nabbed in the act by the Secret Service who had learned of the grisly plot.

Although they had succeeded in removing the top and one end of the marble sarcophagus and partially removed the coffin, Lincoln's body remained undisturbed. Perhaps less so than had previously been the case. The week after the botched kidnap attempt, Lincoln's former law partner, John T. Stuart, fearing further kidnap or vandalism attempts called an emergency meeting of the Executive Committee and laid a plan before them. The committee members would steal Lincoln's body themselves!!!

The next afternoon two workers arrived at the tomb, they drew the coffin from the sarcophagus, covered it with a blanket, and moved it to the Northwest curve of the burial chamber's wall, out of view of visitors. They then closed and sealed the sarcophagus as if the body still remained inside.

That same night three members of the committee returned to the tomb and with the monument's custodian they removed the coffin from its earlier hiding place and secreted it in the murky labyrinths beneath the terrace. Because of the lateness of the hour the committee members left the duty of burying the coffin to the custodian. Excavating a hole in which to conceal the 500 pound coffin was difficult. The deeper he dug the more obvious it became that this would not be suitable because of seeping ground water. Reporting to the committee they decided to allow the coffin to remain within the labyrinth, concealed under a pile of rotting timber.

For the next two years the President lay under a heap of boards in the cellar while pilgrims from all over the World paid homage to the empty sarcophagus. The monument committee seemed content with this situation until the body of a prominent merchant was stolen prompting Lincoln's "guardians" to take new safety precautions.

The committee now authorized the custodian to bury Lincoln's body more securely. On the night of November 18, 1878, six men dug Lincoln a new grave on drier ground within another of the monument's passageways. They deposited the coffin into its shallow hole and then scattered debris and bricks over the top to conceal their work. With the intrigue of this task, they began to think of themselves as the guardians of Lincoln's remains, they formed a group known as "The Lincoln Guard of Honor." Unable to disclose their real activities, the guardians established memorial services on the anniversaries of Lincoln's birth and death to legitimize their public appearances.

Springfield first saw the "Guard" at Mary Todd Lincoln's funeral in July 1882 where they appeared in uniform and attended her placement in the crypts. But like her husband, she wasn't destined to remain for long. Within two days the Guard learned that Robert Todd Lincoln, the couples only surviving son, who knew of and approved the deception regarding Lincoln's remains, wanted his mother's body hidden with his father's. The deed completed at 2 AM July 21, 1882, the Guard of Honor received this message from Robert T. Lincoln: "The gentlemen of the Guard of Honor have laid me under a great obligation by carrying out the wish I expressed that my mother's body be placed beside my father's so that there can be no danger of a spoliation. It is a great satisfaction to know that such an act is now impossible and I think it will be best that no change be made for a long time to come."

Doubtless no change would have been made if the custodian had not been so displeased with the undignified placement of the Presidential remains. Additionally rumors abounded that Lincoln's body actually had been lost and that the sarcophagus lay empty. Questions arose from many quarters which could not be truthfully answered. In April 1887 the Executive Committee and the Monument Association determined to: "Definitely and finally deposit the remains within the monument." For a week before the April 14th private ceremony, the 22nd Anniversary of the shooting, masons prepared the new tomb to receive President and Mrs. Lincoln. When the coffin was opened the President's body appeared to be almost perfectly preserved. His distinctive features remained unchanged and easily recognizable despite the fact, that, as some viewers in 1865 had noted, his skin had turned almost black. The next day the Chicago Tribune reported that Lincoln's face "is said to resemble that of the bronze statue on the monument." The Guardsmen lowered the coffin into the prepared brick and mortar vault built in the center of the monument's north hall, "To sleep for all time." Mrs. Lincoln was then laid to rest beside her husband. The next day, at the ceremony traditionally held to mark Lincoln's death, the Guard of Honor, believing the security of the graves now established, handed over their charge to the Monument Association.

Rest however, continued to elude the fallen President. The custodian's estimate "of all time" turned out to be only 13 years. A 1900 inspection of the monument revealed that it was crumbling from its foundations and would have to be rebuilt.

Once again the Lincoln coffins were exhumed, then transferred to a mass grave a few feet outside the tomb and reburied beneath 9 tons of pulverized rock and brick until the monument could be completed.

In April 1901, 200 people, including surviving members of the Guard of Honor, members of the Lincoln family, Illinois Governor Richard Yates and other officials gathered at the reconstructed monument to witness workmen clear away the mountain of stone and brick heaped over the gravesite. Finally in late afternoon President Lincoln's coffin was hoisted from the pit. The outer pine box was broken away to reveal the cedar coffin, six workmen then carried it to the refurbished monument where it was sealed within the marble sarcophagus in exactly the same spot it had occupied in 1871. Despite the installation of a burglar alarm that connected the tomb to the nearby custodian's residence, Robert Lincoln still feared for the security of his parent's remains. He noted that the sarcophagus holding his father's body remained vulnerable to desecration and theft, being separated from the public  by only a padlocked gate.

Based upon the tomb constructed for George M. Pullman, one of Robert Lincoln's legal clients, the state engaged to have an eight foot square, 10 foot deep hole in the crypt floor constructed; to surround the President's coffin with a steel cage; place the cage and coffin in the hole on a base of 20 inches of Portland cement; and fill the remainder of the cavity with cement creating a solid mass from which the casket never again could be removed.

On Thursday, September 26th 1901, all stood ready. A group of about 20 people assembled to see Abraham Lincoln again laid to rest. Given the 36 year odyssey endured by the President's remains someone felt that it would be wise to look within the coffin one last time to confirm for history that they were indeed burying the late President. Robert Lincoln had given explicit instructions not to open the casket, leading many present to argue vigorously, in the end it was opened. With blow torch and chisels and other tools the top of the coffin over Lincoln's head and shoulders was removed. The witnesses moved forward to peer into the coffin. Although the headrest had fallen away throwing the late President's head back, and his skin now appeared chalky white instead of the dark coloration seen 14 years before, due, according to one account, to a film that has crept over the face. The body was obviously that of Lincoln. The coffin was resealed for the last time and Robert Lincoln's instructions were carried out. Workers lowered the casket into the cage and two tons of cement were poured down covering forever the man known to the ages as The Great Emancipator.

At long last the 16th President was laid to rest, for the last time. He sleeps well in his grave.

Mrs. General George Pickett

Mrs. General George Pickett wrote a piece in the May 1906 issue of "Lippincott's Magazine" that is a jewell!! "Over the smoke-blackened streets of Richmond, right up to the front door of the old Pickett House in that dramatic April 1865 came a surprising figure -- Abraham Lincoln."

He had come looking for Confederate General George Pickett's uncle, an old friend and law associate. On that same visit Lincoln had already passed through the White House of the Confederacy and walked the downtown streets with crowds of blacks around him and his soldier escort.

You can rest assured "Mrs. General George Pickett" was surprised to see the Union president at her doorstep. He asked for her husband, famous for Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg, "perhaps wishing," she wrote some forty years later, "in his generous heart to offer the comfort of a cordial handshake to the soldier he had once known in  his ambitious youth, whose hopes had down with the pride and glory of Richmond."

When Lincoln was told neither gentleman was in, he asked for Mrs. Pickett. "That inquiry was answered by a lady who came forward with a baby in her arms and saw at the door a tall, strong-visaged stranger, with earnest, careworn features and kindly look in his tender, melancholy eyes." She said. "I am George Pickett's wife, sir." He said. "And I am Abraham Lincoln." "The President?" She asked. "No; Abraham Lincoln. George's old friend." He responded.

They chatted, and before Lincoln turned to go he held the baby, "Little George" by name, and submitted to "a dewy baby kiss." Handing the child back, Lincoln spoke again "in that deep and sympathetic voice which was one of his greatest powers over the hearts of men." Pretending to address "Little George, " he said, "Tell your father,  the rascal, that I forgive him for the sake of your mother's sweet smile and your bright eyes."

And then he was gone............

Gone For Soldiers

Host GFS Jim

Book Review Notes: Well I just finished Jeff Shaara's latest book, "Gone For Soldiers". I'm not a critic, but when something is good, you just have to pass the word!! This man just doesn't quit putting out excellent books. I don't know if I can actually say that this is his best yet, but I can certainly say it is the equal of his others, "The Last Full Measure" and "Gods and Generals". His Pulitzer Prize winning father, Michael Shaara would be most proud of his son.

This book really gives the Civil War "lover" a unique background on Robert E. Lee and General Winfield Scott. There are also various mentions of Jackson, Grant, Johnston and a great historical perspective on President Polk, General Zachary Taylor (ole Rough and Ready) and the political environment occurring at that period in our history.

The unique quality of Shaara's writing method is that he picks a few historical characters and focuses on their lives and actions during the historical period that he is writting. Is there some fiction? Sure, to fill in the gaps. But all the historical events and characters and painstaking researched again and those facts are set forth accurately. Of all the Civil War authors, Shaara has very readable and enjoyable style all his own.

The time is 1847 and the event is the Mexican - American War. You just have to get this one in any form you can and read it......


HOST GFS Jim


Return to the Weekly Fireside Newsletter index

Return to the Main Page