EXCITING NEW DISCOVERY: Who Gave the Signal to Spring the Traps?

March 19, 2011: Barry Cauchon

The executions of the four condemned Lincoln conspirators on July 7, 1865 were witnessed and told to the world through many sources. First person, eyewitness accounts taken from newspapers, private letters and people who participated in the event all shared vivid details of what occurred. In conjunction with these, photographers Alexander Gardner and his assistant Timothy O’Sullivan took ten graphic photographs of the proceedings from start to finish.

Over time, a conflict arose between what was reported in the first-person, eyewitness accounts and what was visually seen in the Gardner photographs. The eyewitness evidence did not match the visual evidence. For over a century, researchers, writers, filmmakers and documentarians have wrestled with this dilemma but have never successfully found an acceptable solution.

Through our research, John Elliott and I believe we have found the answer and are able to share it with you now. It is one of several discoveries we have made that will be found in our upcoming book Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators. We are very excited about solving this puzzle and although not earth-shattering, we humbly categorize it as a simple ‘historical adjustment’.

Who Gave the Signal to Spring the Traps? is the chapter from our book where we present the resolution to this long-standing conflict involving three simple questions: Who gave the signal to spring the traps, from what location was it given from and by what method was it delivered?

John and I held off sharing this information with you until we officially presented our findings at the Surratt Society & Surratt House Museum 2011 Conference, Lincoln Assassination: New Perspectives in Clinton, MD on March 19. This now being done, we hope you find the information interesting and look forward to hearing your feedback.

Who Gave the Signal to Spring the Traps

[Click on the link above to read the chapter].

If you wish to purchase the printed supplement of this discovery under the “A Peek Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators”, go to the following link.


No. 1: 2011 Supplement

No. 1: 2011 Supplement

Thank you.





The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2011/03/19/exciting-new-discovery-who-gave-the-signal-to-spring-the-traps/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

8 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Barry,
    Congratulations to both you and John for some wonderful detective work. I am looking forward to your upcoming book. Although I did not attend the Surratt Museum conference, I head from Laurie that your presentation was a great success.

  2. Outstanding job of research!!! Very interesting topic and exceptional photographic evidence.My question is-Did any of these men get monetary incentives for their”work”?

    • Hi Herb: Thanks for the kind words. I am not sure who you are referring to when you ask if the men received monetary incentives. Are you referring to Lafayette Baker’s men? If so, other than their normal pay, I have not heard if any of them received additional pay for doing this duty. It’s a good question though. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

  3. Thanks Barry-To add some thoughts to my question.I wonder if anyone was offered or got a bonus for their”dirty work”?Perhaps to some, it might have been a “duty and honor”!

    • Hi Herb. According to an interview with William Coxshall, one of the four men assigned under the gallows to spring the traps, Christian Rath said the following: “I want you boys to do a good job tomorrow, ” he said. “Don’t make any mistakes, and when it’s all over, I’ll give you a canteen of whiskey.” “Better give it to us now.” one of the men suggested. “But he didn’t. In fact, we never got that drink.”

      But your point about ‘duty and honor’ is excellent and I agree with you that many of the soldiers and officers participated in the event with that in mind.
      There are stories of individual soldiers stating a more personal belief that they ‘deserve to die’ for killing the President. I’m sure many felt that way too. They were volatile times and many people had lost love ones in the war. Bitterness abounded.
      Thanks for you good comment.

  4. Barry,Thanks for your rapid response to my question.”Duty and Honor”certainly comes into play,no matter when the war was.In my younger years,I took”hard head” kids to a “scared straight”program at Elmira Prison.It was after that”event”and my passion for the Civil War,that I did some research on Elmira Prison.I uncovered that over 70 prisoners died within 3 days of Lincoln’s Assassination!Strange coincidence or”duty and Honor”?The time of war can shape people’s attitudes and actions!!!

    • Hey Herb: I had never heard about these ’70 deaths’ at Elmira (often called Hellmira if I’m not mistaken). Tell me more about that if you get a chance. I attended a conference in Corning, NY about two years ago and Michael Horigan, the author of Elmira: Death Camp of the North spoke. Fascinating topic. I have the book and still have not had a chance to read it. Soon, very soon.

  5. Barry,I did the “hellmira”research as a unique project for myself and never”exposed it until now.It does make one wonder about the enire situation!I have recently completed a topic with[Tom Turner’s]positive curiosity,and will be published in “The Lincoln Herald”.I call it “The Letter to Lincoln”.You can Google my name and go to”Olympia History Teacher”for the story.I hired 3 handwriting experts all from the Rochester,NY area to examine the”Letter to Lincoln”.We all agree on who must have written the “Letter to Lincoln”.Very unique bit of research to say the least.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: