The Garden of Death: The Fallen Sparrows of Fort Mahone

April 02, 2015: Barry Cauchon

Angela Smythe has been a friend of mine for several years now and is one of the hidden gems in our research community. I am a strong supporter of her Civil War history work and have previously published her studies on John Wilkes Booth and the Richmond Grays. These articles can all be found on her website http://www.AntebellumRichmond.com.

Today Angela releases her latest work called The Garden of Death: The Fallen Sparrows of Fort Mahone. It is a detailed study of the photographs taken by Thomas C. Roche on April 3, 1865 of the deadly aftermath of the Third Battle of Petersburg (VA), one of the last Civil War battles to be fought. Less than one week later on April 9, Robert E. Lee would surrender his Army of Northern Virginia at the Appomattox Court House in Appomattox, Virginia formally ending the war between the states.

I will let Angela take it from here.

Click on the link below for Angela’s introduction to “The Garden of Death: The Fallen Sparrows of Fort Mahone”. The link at the bottom of that intro will lead you to their website and the complete essay.

Intro to Fallen Sparrows

Congratulations Angela on another wonderful piece of research presented both graphically and poetically.

Best

Barry

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LOOKING FOR HISTORY – CHECK YOUR GRAND PARENTS’ ATTICS

November 26, 2009: Barry Cauchon

LOOKING FOR CIVIL WAR DIARIES, LETTERS, PHOTOGRAPHS, ARTIFACTS AND KEEPSAKES for possible inclusion in our upcoming book and documentary about the Old Arsenal Penitentiary and the Lincoln Conspirators.

Example: Ed Isaacs family has been living in the northeastern United States for several hundred years. Last year Ed’s cousin Pam gave him the diary of his great-great grandfather George Dixon. George was a Civil War Union soldier who was stationed at the Old Arsenal Penitentiary in Washington DC during the incarceration, trial and eventual punishments of the Lincoln conspirators. Amongst other interesting notations found in the diary, George listed the cells used by the prisoners and the guards who watched over them on the last day or two leading up to the executions of four of the conspirators. Ed Isaacs contacted me awhile ago and shared George’s diary with me. We have become friends and are planning on including information about George Dixon and his diary in our upcoming book and documentary. Ed hopes that it will help celebrate his ancestor’s life and we are thrilled to do so. To read the story of George Dixon and his diary as presented by Ed Isaacs, please click on the following link  https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/an-awesometalk-with-ed-isaacs-owner-of-civil-war-diary-from-soldier-who-guarded-the-lincoln-conspirators/).

APPEAL FOR HIDDEN HISTORY: We are appealing to others out there who might have ancestors who were connected directly or indirectly to the Lincoln conspiracy, the Old Arsenal Penitentiary, Washington DC or other Civil War occurences that related to the events that took place between March and August of 1865 in Washington DC and other surrounding areas. Items such as personal diaries, letters, photographs, artifacts, keepsakes and other Civil War related items in your possession could contain valuable historical information of great significance presently unknown to the research community. We would love to include your finds, if historically relevent, in our book and documentary.

So check your attics, basements, the old shed out back, garages, farm houses, barns and even below the floor boards of your old home. Check with your family members about stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. Those conversations may give you a clue as to where your ancestors may have been during the time of the Civil War and the Lincoln assassination and conspiracy. Even if you do not know whether you have something that is important, you should inform us anyway. A name of a buddy or commander found in a diary could be very important. A location mentioned is a possibility. A comment about contemporary events from the time of the assassination may be the perfect thing we are looking for.  You never know what might be important to our projects and the historical community in general. And if you do find something that doesn’t necessarily fit within our research, we will do our best to help direct you where you can go to get more information about your find.

We are looking for genuine historical articles from the time of President Lincoln’s assassination, funeral, conspiracy trial and prisons located in Washington DC (Old Arsenal Penitentiary, District Penitentiary, Washington Penitentiary, Old Capitol Prison, Carrol Annex and Carrol Branch Prison). Items related to the Navy Yards and the ironclad monitors USS Saugus and USS Montauk could all be important clues to help tell the story better. And don’t forget the potential connection to the Confederate Secret Service primarily run out of Montreal, Canada or Lafayette Baker who was the head of the Secret Service for the Union. All great possibilities where hidden history may lie.

WHAT THIS IS NOT

Regretably we are not offering to purchase your family relics or assign a price to them. That is not our specialty and we cannot offer expert advice on an artifact’s value short of its historical significance to the story. As mentioned before, we will do our best to help direct you towards those who might be able to assist you. But no guarantees of course.

If you have an item that you think might be of interest to us, please do not use the comment area below. Instead, write me directly at outreach@awesometalks.com and I will get back to you as soon as I can. Please describe the item (and include a picture if possible). If relevent, please explain why you think this may relate to our research.

As you can see from previous postings on this blog over the past 18 months, we have had a few really cool finds that I’ve been able to share with you. The George Dixon diary, Mr. P’s original fake ‘Lincoln in Death’ photo used in many Lincoln books published over the years and some genuinely great stories from family members from their ancestor’s past.

Give it a try. Everyone has treasures in their family. Share them.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

MR. P’s PHOTOGRAPH IS AN ORIGINAL!!!!

November 22, 2009: Barry Cauchon

Hi all: On Friday, November 19, I had the honor to Mr. Harold Holzer at his office in NYC. We have corresponded and spoken on the phone for over a year and it was great to finally meet him face-to-face. Although the main reason for our meeting is not the subject of this posting, we resolved a puzzle that has been on my mind for over a year. As some of my dedicated readers may remember, in August of 2008, I posted a photograph on my blog from a person I referred to as Mr. P. 

Mr. P. owns a photograph in a Victorian frame which he believed was one of Lincoln in death. I posted it on the blog asking anyone who might want to comment on it. In less than a week, I received an email from Harold Holzer stating that the photograph was not one of Lincoln in death. Instead it was an existing image considered to be a fake or spurious one. It had been previously published in books in the early 1960’s. And that was that. I published Mr. Holzer’s findings on August 21, 2008 and informed Mr. P. about the results.  But we still wondered about the Victorian framed photograph and how Mr. P’s family came to have this piece. Who was this man? What type of photographic process was used? Was it a printed copy or an original? We just didn’t know and didn’t dare open it without help.

We zip ahead to last week. A lot has changed in one year. Mr. P. is now one of my closest friends. I’ve partnered with John Elliott to be my writing partner and are moving ahead with our book and other projects. So we all meet in NYC and descend upon the office of Harold Holzer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. After our scheduled meeting with Mr. Holzer, Mr. P. brought out the photograph and we asked if Mr. Holzer would look at it. Since it was this photo that brought all of us together, we thought it was appropriate to have him be the one to look at it.

Yours truly, Abe, Harold Holzer and John Elliott

Yours truly, Abe, Harold Holzer and John Elliott

Upon inspection, Mr. Holzer opened the frame to expose the photograph. Once apart, we observed that the image was printed on a glass plate. Mr. Holzer indicated that it was an Ambrotype which was a photographic process used in the early 1800s. And as this was an Ambrotype it meant that the photograph was an original and not a reproduction. AMAZING! This photo, which has been published in numerous Lincoln books, is the original Ambrotype from which these reproduced photos were made.

We were all very excited about the confirmation. Thank you Mr. Holzer for a great meeting and the photographic identification. So even though the image is not that of Abraham Lincoln in death and is considered a fake, at least now we know that Mr. P. owns the original fake.

By the way, Mr. P. indicates that bidding can begin at $2,000,000.    : )

Below is part of the original article that was written over a year ago that started this whole train moving down the track.

HAROLD HOLZER COMMENTS ON “LINCOLN IN DEATH” PICTURES

August 21, 2008 – Barry Cauchon:

Hi all: My blog has had a flurry of activity recently concerning several articles that I had posted on questionable Lincoln Photos in Death. I was honored to be contacted by Mr. Harold Holzer, the Senior Vice President, External Affairs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Mr. Holzer is an historian and author, considered to be one of the leading Lincoln scholars in the world and he graciously offered to comment on the photos I have been debating here.

2. MR. P’s PHOTOGRAPH

This is the first time we are publishing this photograph here. We were going to wait until September 3, 2008 however the review by Mr. Holzer allows us to post it now.

Metal plate photo in hinged frame

Mr. P's photo in hinged frame

Close up of the picture 

 Close up of face.

Close up of beard Close up of beard
Close up of hands Close up of hands
RESOLVE: Mr. Holzer reviewed these images on Tuesday, August 19 and expressed the following observations:
  • The beard is too full (as previously mentioned above)
  • “Why would Secretary of War Stanton have allowed a photographer to make this intrusive shot when he confiscated the picture of Lincoln all dressed up and lying in state in NY City hall?”
  • The arms and chest are too narrow. When the doctors removed Lincoln’s shirt after he was shot, they notice his chest and arms were very muscular. He was ‘ripped’. The body in these photos is not.
  • Is this a Daguerreotype? “Unlikely, as it would be just way out of fashion by 1865 and too hard to take in a room with no lighting.”

All of these were valid points, but the best was still to come!

  • The photo is not a new image. Mr. Holzer pointed out that he had seen it before in Charles Hamilton and Lloyd Ostendorf’s 1963 book, “Lincoln in Photographs: An Album of Every Known Pose”, 1st edition, on page 294. Mr. Holzer stated, “It seems to me they are one and the same shot with the alleged deathbed photo Lloyd Ostendorf and Charles Hamilton published as a spurious image in their 1963 “Lincoln in Photographs,” p 294.  I don’t disagree with their conclusions—the beard is simply wrong.  Lincoln may have had a sort of full beard for his February 1865 life mask, but as the March inaugural photos and the Henry Warren photos show the next day (not to mention the known photo of Lincoln in his coffin), his beard had been considerably trimmed down by the spring of that year”.  
  • END

After conversing with Mr. Holzer on several points for clarification, I was able to find the same photo (although reversed) in another book call “Twenty Days” by Dorthy Meserve Kunhardt & Philip Kunhardt, Jr., Harper & Rowe Publishers, NY, 1965 (see photo and link below). It looks like the exact same photo!

Identical photo (in reverse) from book "Twenty Days" by Dorthy Meserve Kunhardt and Philip Kunhardt, Jr. 

 Identical photo (in reverse) from book “Twenty Days” by Dorthy Meserve Kunhardt.

http://news.webshots.com/photo/1003168559000142258BBKqRGIYne
 
CONCLUSION: The image is unlikely that of Mr. Lincoln based on the information presented here. But it does raise several questions about who it really is and the origin of the image itself.

QUESTIONS: Some of the questions raised are as follows:

  • Assuming that Mr. P. has an original Daguerreotype or tintype of this image, how did it end up in several books in the 1960s? Mr. P. found the photograph in a desk that his grandmother left to him when she died. This was about 25 years ago. The printed images have been in the public eye for at least 45 years!
  • Does Mr. P. have the original or is it a copy?
  • Was there more than one image made of the body at the time the photograph was shot?
  • Who is the man? Could it be one of Mr. P’s relatives? Mr. Holzer believes that the photo could be from the 1840s or 50s.
  • Where did Charles Hamilton and Lloyd Ostendorf get the original photo for their book?
  • What is the history of the picture?

FOLLOW UP: Mr. P is not disappointed that his photo was not Mr. Lincoln. He is actually thrilled that he owns a genuine ‘fake’ now. And it has given him a new area of research to investigate. History can be exciting, even if it isn’t on the ‘main stage’. Keep hunting Mr. P!

THANK YOU: Finally, I want to personally thank Mr. Harold Holzer for his time and efforts in helping me assist Mr. P  in this project. As well, I’d like to also thank Kevin O. Johnson, Ph.D in Dallas, Christy and Tins (pardijoe) for offering their comments, direction and assistance in solving the puzzle as well. Many many many thanks to all of you.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

Protected: TREASURES IN THE ATTIC (No 1) – Lincoln in Death Photo

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HAROLD HOLZER COMMENTS ON ‘LINCOLN IN DEATH’ PHOTOS

August 21, 2008 – Barry Cauchon:

Hi all: My blog has had a flurry of activity recently concerning several articles that I had posted on questionable Lincoln Photos in Death.

I was honored to be contacted by Mr. Harold Holzer, the Senior Vice President, External Affairs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Mr. Holzer is an historian and author, considered to be one of the leading Lincoln scholars in the world and he graciously offered to comment on the photos I have been debating here.

 1. THE BACHELDER PHOTO:

Unauthenticated photo of Lincoln after death, April 16,1865
Unauthenticated photo of Lincoln after death, reported to be taken in the White House on April 16,1865 by  John B. Bachelder.

The full article was posted on July 24, 2008 under the title “Lincoln Photos – Real, Fake or ‘Who Knows’!”https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2008/07/24/lincoln-photos-real-fake-or-who-knows/

For those of you who are not familiar with this disputed photo, the controversial image was apparently taken by John B. Bachelder at the White House on April 16, 1865, the day after Lincoln died. Bachelder, who would become well known for his photographic and research documentation of Gettysburg in later years, never publicly commented about this photo. And there there is no evidence that this photo was actually taken by Mr. Bachelder. But some believe this to be real and others do not. 
John B. Bachelder and wife 1890

John B. Bachelder and wife 1890

RESOLVE: Mr. Harold Holzer indicated that this image appeared in Charles Hamilton and Lloyd Ostendorf’s book “Lincoln in Photographs: An Album of Every Known Pose”, 1st edition, released in 1963. A reprint came out in the late 1980s. The image turns out to not be a photograph at all but rather an engraving, which was to be used as a model for a later print. As well, the beard in the ‘engraving’ is too full as Lincoln wore a shorter beard during that spring. This is indicated in the last known existing photo of Abraham Lincoln taken prior to his assassination. It was taken by photographer Henry F. Warren on the south balcony of the White House on March 6, 1865. As you can see, Lincoln sports more of a goatee rather than a full beard.

Last known photo of Lincoln taken March 6, 1865 by Henry Warren

Last known photo of Abraham Lincoln taken by Henry Warren on March 6, 1865

CONCLUSION:The Bachelder engraving (even if based on a real photo) does not support the existing photographic evidence and therefore cannot be considered as a genuine Lincoln photograph.

2. MR. P’s PHOTOGRAPH
This is the first time we are publishing this photograph here. We were going to wait until September 3, 2008 however the review by Mr. Holzer allows us to post it now.
Metal plate photo in hinged frame

Mr. P's photo in hinged frame

Close up of the picture

Close up of the face

Close up of beard

Close up of beard

Close up of hands

Close up of hands

RESOLVE: Mr. Holzer reviewed these images on Tuesday, August 19 and expressed the following observations:
  • The beard is too full (as previously mentioned above)

  • “Why would Secretary of War Stanton have allowed a photographer to make this intrusive shot when he confiscated the picture of Lincoln all dressed up and lying in state in NY City hall?”

  • The arms and chest are too narrow. When the doctors removed Lincoln’s shirt after he was shot, they notice his chest and arms were very muscular. He was ‘ripped’. The body in these photos is not.

  • Is this a Daguerreotype? “Unlikely, as it would be just way out of fashion by 1865 and too hard to take in a room with no lighting.”

All of these were valid points, but the best was still to come!

  • The photo is not a new image. Mr. Holzer pointed out that he had seen it before in Charles Hamilton and Lloyd Ostendorf’s 1963 book, “Lincoln in Photographs: An Album of Every Known Pose”, 1st edition, on page 294. Mr. Holzer stated, “It seems to me they are one and the same shot with the alleged deathbed photo Lloyd Ostendorf and Charles Hamilton published as a spurious image in their 1963 “Lincoln in Photographs,” p 294.  I don’t disagree with their conclusions—the beard is simply wrong.  Lincoln may have had a sort of full beard for his February 1865 life mask, but as the March inaugural photos and the Henry Warren photos show the next day (not to mention the known photo of Lincoln in his coffin), his beard had been considerably trimmed down by the spring of that year”.  

  • END

After conversing with Mr. Holzer on several points for clarification, I was able to find the same photo (although reversed) in another book call “Twenty Days” by Dorthy Meserve Kunhardt & Philip Kunhardt, Jr., Harper & Rowe Publishers, NY, 1965 (see photo and link below). It looks like the exact same photo!

Identical photo (in reverse) from book "Twenty Days" by Dorthy Meserve Kunhardt and Philip Kunhardt, Jr.

Identical photo (in reverse) from book "Twenty Days" by Dorthy Meserve Kunhardt

CONCLUSION: The image is unlikely that of Mr. Lincoln based on the information presented here. But it does raise several questions about who it really is and the origin of the image itself.

QUESTIONS: Some of the questions raised are as follows:

  • Assuming that Mr. P. has an original Daguerreotype or tintype of this image, how did it end up in several books in the 1960s? Mr. P. found the photograph in a desk that his grandmother left to him when she died. This was about 25 years ago. The printed images have been in the public eye for at least 45 years!
  • Does Mr. P. have the original or is it a copy?
  • Was there more than one image made of the body at the time the photograph was shot?
  • Who is the man? Could it be one of Mr. P’s relatives? Mr. Holzer believes that the photo could be from the 1840s or 50s.
  • Where did Charles Hamilton and Lloyd Ostendorf get the original photo for their book?
  • What is the history of the picture?

FOLLOW UP: Mr. P is not disappointed that his photo was not Mr. Lincoln. He is actually thrilled that he owns a genuine ‘fake’ now. And it has given him a new area of research to investigate. History can be exciting, even if it isn’t on the ‘main stage’. Keep hunting Mr. P!

THANK YOU: Finally, I want to personally thank Mr. Harold Holzer for his time and efforts in helping me assist Mr. P  in this project. As well, I’d like to also thank Kevin O. Johnson, Ph.D in Dallas, Christy and Tins (pardijoe) for offering their comments, direction and assistance in solving the puzzle as well. Many many many thanks to all of you.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

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If you are interested in Abraham Lincoln, you should read these interviews by two Lincoln experts:

 

“An Awesometalk With” Harold Holzer, Lincoln Scholar

(posted on November 10, 2008) 

 

  “An Awesometalk With” Dr. Thomas Schwartz, Illinois State Historian 

(posted on December 08, 2008) 

 

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