150th Anniversary of the Lincoln Conspirator Trial Event at Fort McNair (May 08 & 09, 2015)

May 21, 2015: Barry Cauchon.

John, Mike, Barry, Betty, Kate (08May15)

John Elliott, Mike Kauffman, Barry Cauchon, Betty Ownsbey, Kate Clifford-Larson

The VIP tour inspecting the grave locations for the Lincoln conspirators and Henry Wirz.

The VIP tour inspecting the grave locations for the Lincoln conspirators and Henry Wirz.

Hi all: On May 8-9, 2015 I had the privilege of participating in the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Lincoln Conspirator Military Tribunal held at Fort Lesley J. McNair in Washington D.C.  May 08 commemorated the first day the military commission met behind closed doors to organize their procedures and May 09 commemorated the first day of the actual trial when the prisoners were brought into the courtroom.

The two-day event began on Friday night with a VIP reception at the Fort McNair Officer’s Club hosted by Colonel Michael Henderson.  Guests included many military officials, historians, NDU specialists and staff, authors, descendants, benefactors, members of the Surratt House Museum and Surratt Society, several Civil War round table officials and some dear old friends.  I was one of four speakers presenting that night.  Joining me at the podium were Michael Kauffman, author of American Brutus and In the Footsteps of an Assassin; John Elliott (my research partner) and specialist in the courtroom stories as seen from the spectators’ points of view; and historian Betty Ownsbey (Lewis Powell’s biographer) and author of Alias Paine (2nd edition).

Following the presentations on Friday night, the attendees were invited to take tours of the restored courtroom and the exterior grounds where the executions took place in July of 1865. John, Betty and Mike led the tours in the courtroom whereas I toured the execution site and vicinity. Earlier that day, John and I painstakingly laid out the locations of the scaffold, the four conspirators’ graves, Henry Wirz’ (Commandant of Andersonville Prison) grave and John Wilkes Booth’s grave.  We also laid out the locations for the penitentiary’s 20′ high east wall, the door from which the prisoners exited the penitentiary to their executions and the Shoe Factory where Alexander Gardner took his famous series of photographs depicting the executions.

I am grateful and thankful to the folks at Fort McNair who asked me to lay out the locations of these elements (which had never been done before).  I have had the dimensions and calculations in both my head and on paper for several years now and was thrilled to finally get a chance to plot them in situ.  When you see them in their actual environment, the entire scale of the event is easier to envision.

On Saturday, May 09, there was a public open house with free tours to those who signed up.  For fire safety reasons, only about 45 people are allowed to occupy the courtroom at any one time so four sessions were planned. John Elliott and Mike Kauffman split the presentations in the courtroom and I did the walking tours outside.  It turned out to be a beautiful day and everyone who attended seemed to really enjoy themselves.

I want to thank Leah Rubalcaba (Community Relations Officer) and Rob Joswiak (Public Affairs Specialist) and other members of the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall team for pulling this event together.  I was excited to be a part of it and look forward to assisting again in the future.

To see a great article with photos about this event, go to Dave Taylor’s Boothie Barn blog.  The article called A Military Tribunal Observation  was written by Kate Ramirez and she did a great job in summarizing the two-day commemoration.  Thanks Kate and Dave.


Finally, I want to thank my wife, Christine for accompanying me to Washington and sharing her wonderful and never-ending support. I love you dearly.

Have a wonderful day.




800,000 hits – What’s Wrong with you People! lol

February 26, 2012

by Barry Cauchon


It is almost 5 months to the day since my last posting here…and another 100,000 people have viewed this site since then. What’s wrong with you people! LOL.

First of all, thank you for supporting A Little Touch of History. When I began writing this in May of 2008, I had not idea that people would be so interested in the topics I posted. But you have been and I am grateful.

Let me bring you up to date on what has been going on with me and try to explain my absence. First of all, real life work got very busy. I am a Senior Project Manager in the corporate, museum and touring exhibit industry. This can be a very demanding and time consuming job and when it gets busy, I need to focus on the work. So this has been the case recently.

Another reason why you have not seen a lot of new material here is because I was given a part in a play (my first real acting gig) and I dedicated myself to the challenge. The play was Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, which is the story of the Salem Witch hunts of the 1690s. I was given the role of Judge Hathorne and also understudied the role of Thomas Putnam. Last week, we completed our 8-show run that played before about 2200 people in all. It was a great experience and I am grateful for having been given such an opportunity to join this talented cast and crew.

That's me (lower left) playing Judge Hathorne in The Crucible. Photo by Alex Ragozzino.

Although I am quite comfortable speaking in front of a large crowd, performing as a character is far different. The process of taking the written words from a script and turning them into a final performance is long and laborious. But it is also so much fun. Our cast of 26 actors ranged in age from 11 to 71. For anyone who thinks acting is an easy thing to do, I can tell you now from experience that it is extremely hard work and takes a tremendous amount of dedication, training and practice to become good at it. Nonetheless, if you ever get the chance to do a play or other acting project, I encourage you strongly to try. The acting community is a tight knit group and the support is tremendous. You can only benefit from an experience like this. I know I did. So here’s to all the actors, the crews and the management that work so hard to entertain us. Be proud of your profession and thank you for sharing it with me.

Moving on to the subject of our book “Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators”, John Elliott and I had to put the writing portion of it on hold all last summer because of work commitments. We have started writing again as we prepare to speak at next month’s Surratt Society Lincoln Assassination Conference on March 17. Like last year, when we spoke at the conference, we are preparing a printed conference supplement, which is based on a chapter from our book. This year the supplement is called “Thirteen Days Aboard the Monitors: The Early Incarceration of the Conspirators, the Mug Shot Photo Sessions and the Truth about the Hoods”.

The content will cover the ironclad monitors U.S.S. Saugus and U.S.S Montauk and their involvement in the Lincoln conspirators’ early incarceration. We will then reveal new information on the Alexander Gardner photo sessions in which 26 well known ‘mug shots’ of the prisoners were taken. Many people believe that all 26 images were taken on one day only (as the official record indicates) while others believe a second photo session was performed. Our research has discovered that there were likely three photo sessions in all and we will spell out the dates, the evidence and the information that lead us to this plausible conclusion. Finally, we will describe in very simple terms the truth about the hoods that the prisoners were forced to wear during their time on the monitors and at the Washington Arsenal Penitentiary. Much misinformation has been published over the years about the hoods and this was our chance to clear up the matter. We also include information on the final hoods (or execution caps) that four of the conspirators wore when they were executed by hanging on July 7, 1865.

Leap-frogging from the conference, John and I should be back on track and pushing to complete our manuscript this year.

We look forward to sharing much more with you in the coming months. And I will endeavor to add more fresh content here on A Little Touch of History.

Thank you again for all your kind words and support.




Published in: on Sunday, February 26, 2012 at '3:00 pm'  Comments (4)  
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September 12, 2011: Barry Cauchon

I rarely post my own personal stories on my blog but in this case, I thought I’d make an exception.

Many people point out that I live in a world where death is a prominent feature. It is history after all, and most of the people I talk about are no longer alive. But there is something to be said about celebrating life and the wonders found around us everyday. My soul needs this and the balance it gives me in my life. And one way that I rejuvenate myself is in my interactions with nature and animals. Pets are great, but my real joy comes from observing, and on occasion, bonding with the birds and animals that live in the wild.

Recently I made a trip to my family cottage which is located about three hours northeast of Toronto, Canada. It is on protected government land where no hunting is allowed. We have owned this cottage for about 14 years and as part of our initial renovation, set up a deer feeding station. It has attracted a steady stream of local deer (some of which have been visiting us for over ten years), along with other creatures (raccoons, turkeys, geese, blue jays, squirrels and of course chipmunks).

A small deer named Dolly, the matriarch of a clan of about twelve deer, has always been braver than the others and occasionally has eaten out of our hands. During this recent visit, however, she was particularly trusting and friendly. Here are some photographs of me, my girl friend Christine and my brother Marty enjoying some quality time with Dolly and one of our crazy chipmunks.

It was definitely a ‘rejuvenating moment’.




Dolly and Barry. Dolly enjoys some cracked corn and peanuts. Her favorite treats are apples and watermelon.

Christine and Dolly bonding over some tasty cracked corn.

A reassuring pat on the head.

...and don't forget the chipmunks! They need their nourishment too!

Marty also has a treat for Dolly.


Published in: on Monday, September 12, 2011 at '9:59 am'  Comments (2)  
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August 18, 2011: Barry Cauchon

Dad is a huge Red Sox fan!

This is a personal note to my father, Dona Louis Cauchon who turns 80 years young today.  I love you Dad. You’ve brought joy to your friends and family for years and we look forward to many more happy times ahead.

For those of you who are curious, my father is as spry as ever. He’s a husband to my mother, Adrienne, a father of 8 kids and a grandfather to around 16 grandkids (I’ve lost count…sorry) The grandkids call him Pepere.

Dad is a former NASA engineer (during the Apollo years) and is currently writing a book. When it is done, I’ll interview him on An Awesometalk With!

His love of playing organized baseball/softball has always been strong in him.  It was only last year that he finally hung up his cleats, retiring from playing organized softball in his Senior’s League with his friends. And it was just a few years ago that he was pitching for our very competitive ‘A’ Level Slo-Pitch softball team called the Neighbour Hoods. He had an incredible knuckle ball that confounded many a batter. The Neighbour Hoods featured Dad, his six sons and a variety of other talented characters. Throughout 10 years of playing together in league play and tournaments, he gained great respect from his teammates and competitors alike. Many still keep in touch with him today. In his university days, he played baseball for UNH (University of New Hampshire). Today, he still enjoys playing in family pick up games and wiffle ball games at the cottage. And don’t even get me started on talking about the massive family reunions (we’ve got a lot of relatives and cousins) where we all look forward to the huge head-to-head international softball game between the Canadian Cauchons and the American Cauchons. Up until last year, the Canadian Cauchons had never lost (after all, we did play serious ball for many years). But last year was different. The American Cauchons kicked our asses. I’m sure that Dad is already planning his strategy to regain the title at the next reunion (his brother and sister play for the American Cauchons).

Dad was the big winner in the Family Reunion 2009 Olympics Costume contest.

Dad, you and Mom are the patriarch and matriarch, the souls and the glue that binds our family and friends together and have made our lives joyous over the years. We look forward to many many more. So enjoy your day and let’s get ready for our next big wiffle ball game up at the cottage in September . Everyone is ready and we will have a blast.

Happy Birthday, Pepere!


Published in: on Thursday, August 18, 2011 at '12:30 pm'  Comments (3)  
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Hey, where are you from?

June 13, 2011: Barry Cauchon

Public Viewing of Lincoln's Body (Harper's Weekly - May 06, 1865)

Hi all: Sorry to have been missing in action for so long. This month is a busy one for me schedule-wise.

In spite of that, I have been wanting to find out where some of my readers come from. So please, in the COMMENTS section below, please let me know who you are, where you live and what interests you about history. Tell me what kind of history intrigues you the most and if you have any connection to it through family or other avenues.

I look forward to reading about you.



Published in: on Monday, June 13, 2011 at '9:04 am'  Comments (9)  
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“The Angel of Marye’s Heights” DVD — NOW AVAILABLE

January 25, 2011: Barry Cauchon

My good friend Clint Ross and Michael Aubrecht of Red Stripe Media have just announced that their wonderful documentary “The Angel of Marye’s Heights” is now available on DVD and can be purchased online. If you do not know the story of “The Angel of Marye’s Heights” go to this link to listen to a live interview I did with Clint Ross, the director of the film.  https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2010/06/25/an-awesometalk-with-clint-ross-director-of-the-documentary-the-angel-of-maryes-heights/

It’s a great story and Clint and Michael did a fantastic job in bringing it to the public’s attention.

I’ve seen the film and endorse it fully. Once you’ve seen the film, please write here and share your comments on what you thought.




Get “The Angel of Marye’s Heights” on DVD For Immediate Release (January 25, 2011):

It is with great pleasure that Right Stripe Media announces the immediate availability of “The Angel of Marye’s Heights” on DVD. This long-anticipated release commemorates the beginning of the Sesquicentennial (150th) of the American Civil War. In addition to the 30-minute documentary, 7 additional Bonus Features (1+ hour) are included: Dramatic Mercy-Scene, Richard Warren’s “Portrayal of a Hero” Monologue, “Living History” with Kathleen Warren, Cast and Crew Outtakes and Behind the Scenes Slideshow with Will White’s ‘Fredericksburg 1862’ title song, Director and Producer Premiere Comments and Scans of Richard Kirkland Letters.

This Widescreen DVD is now available for purchase online for $12 (+ shipping) at http://www.theangelmovie.com/store.

*Bulk-discounts available. Vendor and Media inquiries email info@theangelmovie.com. For more information, visit the film’s official website at http://www.theangelmovie.com. (Please feel free to blog, repost, or share this information.)

Published in: on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at '9:58 am'  Comments (2)  
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Update on “THE ANGEL OF MARYE’S HEIGHTS” documentary

October 6, 2010: Barry Cauchon

Hi all: I’ve been negligent in keeping you up to date on what has been happening with Clint Ross and Michael Aubrecht and their documentary “The Angel of Marye’s Heights”. Clint just sent out an update so I wanted to pass it along. They are raising funds for producing the DVD of the film. To be a part of this exciting project, read the update below and then visit their website. Your support is very much appreciated. I’ve seen the film and it’s an excellent film.






Hey Folks,

We are steadily approaching our first steps in producing Right Stripe Media’s first DVD, The Angel of Marye’s Heights.  We are striving to release the film by our determined goal of early 2011 just in time for the Civil War Sesquicentennial . Here are some recent quotes by experts about the film:

“I just watched your Kirkland movie and was super impressed. Very well written and accurate script, use of historians, the graphics were excellent. Overall a very professional looking production. Great job!” – Mac Wyckoff, retired NPS historian and THE leading authority on Richard Kirkland and the 2nd South Carolina Volunteers. 

“This film was a poignant, inspiring portrayal of an unassuming hero. It made a touching Civil War story leap from the pages of history and come alive.” – Jane Conner, historian and author of Birthstone of the White House and Capitol and Sinners, Saints, & Soldiers in Civil War Stafford. 

In our haste of anticipation and preparation, we just wanted to stop and say a quick “thank you” to all our supporters that have contributed to this film either through financial contributions or by simply being the man or woman on the street spreading the word. We could not and cannot do this without YOU

We are 1/3 of the way there.  We have just over $2,000 to raise in order to meet our goal of $3,000 by December.  Michael and I are raising support by traveling to various museums and universities to host screenings and talks/discussions about our film and the preservation of history.  However, the majority of our support has come through you guys… our fans!  So “thank you” again for all of your much needed contributions!    

On a side note, just yesterday Michael and I were on Victory-FM’s “Welcome Home” program.  We will be posting links to these interviews soon, but in the meantime, if you’d like to read about our latest screening at Mary Washington University where Michael was personally invited by the President to host a private screening, follow the link below to our blog. You can keep up with our screening dates (including upcoming shows at Stafford and Pittsburgh) on our website under EVENTS.


We’ll be talking to you soon, but in the meantime, keep spreading the word!

Clint Ross
Right Stripe Media, LLC

Published in: on Wednesday, October 6, 2010 at '10:47 am'  Comments (2)  
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Here are some January birthdays for Lincoln’s friends and foes. And perhaps a few contemporaries who lived during his time but whom he may not have been personally acquainted with.

225px-millard_fillmore Milliard Fillmore – 13th President of the United States. Born January 07, 1800. Age 212.

225px-salmon_chase2c_brady-handy_photo_portrait_ca1855-1865 Salmon P. Chase – Secretary of the Treasury under Lincoln. Born January 13, 1808. Age 204. 

 200px-robert_edward_lee Robert E. Lee – Confederate Full General who commanded the Army of Northern Virginia. Born January 19, 1807. Age 205.

200px-edgar_allan_poe_2 Edgar Allan Poe – American author. Born January 19, 1809. Age 203.

 200px-stonewall_jackson Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson – Confederate Lieutenant General. Born January 21, 1824. Age 188.

240px-georgepickett George Edward Pickett – Confederate Major General, who, whether right or wrong, is blamed for the ill-fated, final assault at Gettysburg which now bears his name as Pickett’s Charge. Born between January 16 – 28, 1825. Age 187.

Happy birthday gentlemen!





The Lincoln Conspirators Execution Photos: A Study in Detail

The 15-chapter series on The Lincoln Conspirators Execution Photos: A Study in Detail is now completed and posted under the Pages section. To view, please click on the links below to view the chapters you wish to see.

Please be advised that the photographs and content, although historical, are graphic in detail and not intended for children.




UPDATED (Mar 12): The Lincoln Conspirators Execution Photos, A Study in Detail

March 12, 2009: Barry Cauchon



The 15 chapter serial presentation on The Lincoln Conspirator Execution Photos –  A Study in Detail is now completed. It is a detailed study of the ten Alexander Gardner photographs known to exist from the executions of the convicted Lincoln assassination conspirators. Each photograph was analzyed, with a focus on the details, to help bring the story of the event to life. Warning: The subject matter of this study is graphic and should not be viewed by young children.

I’m sure you will find this study fascinating as you view the photographs and the stories behind them.

The series is located under my ‘Pages’ section, and can be accessed there or through the links below.

Here is a breakdown of the chapters. Click on the links below to take you to the chapter you wish to view.

Best Barry



November 22, 2008: Barry Cauchon

Today marks the 45th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 at 12:30pm CST (1:30pm EST). And on November 19, 2008, we celebrated the 145th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address.

Photo of clock on the Texas School Book Depository showing time of the assassination. This photo was not taken on the day of the actual event.

The clock on the Texas School Book Depository showing the time of the assassination. This photo was not taken on the same day.

So I was curious to know what happened on November 19, 1963, when the country celebrated the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s famous speech, especially in light of the fact that just three days later President Kennedy would be assassinated.

According to an article on BBC HOME, H2G2, this is what they wrote. It’s very interesting.

John F Kennedy and Gettysburg

During 1963, the 100th anniversary of the pivotal American Civil War battle was commemorated at the Gettysburg National Military Park by a variety of special events.

For the 50th and 75th anniversaries of the battle, Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D Roosevelt had come to the battlefield on 4 July and given speeches. In 1963, President John F Kennedy was invited to speak, but a previously arranged tour of Europe prevented him from doing so1. Undeterred, the anniversary organisers recruited the closest president they could find – Gettysburg, Pennsylvania resident Dwight Eisenhower.

Kennedy did tour the battlefield in March 1963 in an Oldsmobile convertible. He is said to have impressed his tour guides by being able to read the Gaelic inscription on the monument to the 28th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry2.

On Memorial Day3, Kennedy did not attend the ceremonies at the battlefield and sent Vice President Lyndon B Johnson in his stead. At the time, Johnson’s remarks drew little notice, but once he became president they took on special meaning: he had been the first Southerner to speak at Gettysburg about Civil Rights.

The final special event at the battlefield in 1963 was to mark the 100th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s reading of his famous Gettysburg Address at the National Cemetery.

Again Kennedy declined an invitation to speak and again Eisenhower filled in admirably. Kennedy did send a message which read ‘Let us remember those thousands of American patriots whose graves at home, beneath the sea and in distant lands are silent sentries of our heritage’.

Kennedy had not been able to attend this event because he was needed in Texas to settle a political squabble between two Texan politicians – Governor John Connally and US Senator Ralph Yarborough. Instead of attending the ceremonies on 19 November, Kennedy flew down to Texas and stayed the weekend at Lyndon B Johnson’s ranch.

Three days later, on 22 November, Kennedy was assassinated as he rode through the streets of Dallas.



On November 19, 1963, although not in Gettysburg, Kennedy made the following statement for the Centennial.
“From the past man obtains the insights, wisdom and hope to face with confidence the uncertainties of the future. Abraham Lincoln was keenly aware of this when, a century ago, he journeyed to Gettysburg to make “a few appropriate remarks.” Today, as we honor Lincoln’s immortal eulogy to the dead on Cemetery Ridge, let us remember as well those thousands of American patriots whose graves at home, beneath the sea and in distant lands are silent sentries of our heritage. Lincoln and others did indeed give us “a new birth of freedom;” but the goals of liberty and freedom, the obligations of keeping ours a government of and by the people are never-ending. On this solemn occasion let us all re`dedicate ourselves to the perpetuation of those ideals of which Lincoln spoke so luminously. As Americans, we can do no less.”



Let us remember our fallen Presidents and the soldiers who have served and died for their country by celebrating their deeds, their accomplishments and their lives rather than celebrating the anniversary of their deaths. The country must always honor their memories and be proud of what they’ve done for us.





November 17, 2008. Barry Cauchon:

This past weekend I was priveledged to speak at the Western Southern Tier Council of the Social Studies conference in Corning, New York. It was hosted, and attended, by a wonderful group of professional history educators whose conference goal was to teach, learn, share and go away with ideas that they can use in their students’ education. I was proud to be a part of it.

My role was to present “A Little Touch of History’ in a live format. I did this in two-parts. First, I shared content and stories from my professional life as a Senior Project Manager in the corporate, museum and tour exhibit industry. I focused on three projects: the Montreal Holocaust Memorial Centre, Princess Diana: A Celebration and Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs (the King Tut tour).

The second part of my presentation was to pass out real artifacts to the audience and explain my belief that history should be interactive. If the students can experience history by way of ‘touch and tell’, rather than ‘show and tell’, I believe that it will spur them on to deeper interest in the subjects and lead to further study on their own. In real life, this approach has always worked for me and so I think that it will do the same for the students.

I enjoyed the conference and met a lot of great people and can’t say how happy I was to be a part of the event.

My personal thanks go out to the WSTCSS Executive Committee (see below) for having me. And especially, I want to thank Tom Jackson (Treasurer) and his wife, Christine for their hospitality and on-going warm and wonderful friendships. These things I find grateful to have in my life. 

Message to Students: For student visitors to this blog, I learned something very important this weekend. Your teachers really care about you! All weekend long, I overheard them talking to other teachers about their classes and would hear them say things like, “My kids are great!” and “My kids did this last week!”. They are really proud of you. So keep up the good work. And while you are at it, be proud of your teachers too.

Message to Teachers: Keep on rockin’!

The Western Southern Tier Council for the Social Studies Executive Committee



Thanks for having me.