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.

http://boothiebarn.com/2015/05/21/5584/

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.

Best

Barry

barryssentials@hotmail.com

An Awesometalk With STEVEN G. MILLER, expert on the hunt for John Wilkes Booth

August 01, 2010: Barry Cauchon

Steven G. Miller, expert on the hunt for John Wilkes Booth

An Awesometalk With Steven G. Miller

Duration: 42:28

Steven G. Miller knows more about the hunt for John Wilkes Booth and the men who participated in it than most people in the world. He has been researching the subject for thirty years. However, if you try to call him an expert in the subject he frowns upon the title. There is just too much more to learn so an expert, he says, he is not!

Despite Steven’s objections, many of us believe that he is an expert and the best person to talk to regarding the hunt for John Wilkes Booth and what really happened in his final hours.

Steven is a gifted researcher, writer and historian. He has written numerous articles for magazines and periodicals and has one unpublished book about the eyewitness accounts taken from the Garrett farm the night John Wilkes Booth was captured and killed..

I’ve known Steve for about two years and he always has something amazing to share. He’s also a pretty humorous guy with a really dry wit.

Steve will be speaking for the sixth time at the Surratt Society Assassination Conference in Clinton, MD next March 19, 2011. For more details, go to the Surratt Society website at: www.surratt.org.

Enjoy.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

“An Awesometalk With” BETTY OWNSBEY, author of Alias Paine, the Lewis Powell biography

May 02, 2010: Barry Cauchon

LINK TO INTERVIEW: An Awesometalk With Betty Ownsbey 08-Mar-10

Running Time: 35:00

I am really pleased to present my interview with Betty Ownsbey, historian, researcher and author of ‘Alias Paine’, the biography of Lewis Powell, Lincoln assassination conspirator who was tried, found guilty and hanged on July 7, 1865.

Betty lives in Richmond, Virginia. I grew up in nearby Hampton, so I feel a connection to Betty as a fellow Viriginian. I found her to be charming, witty and passionate about the Lincoln assassination.  She is full of life and you will get pumped up just listening to her.

Our interview covered the following subjects:

  • Frustrations in research
  • The discovery of the Hartranft Letterbook
  • Lewis Powell, his family and history
  • Sharing and living history
  • Horses and the Civil War riding style and how it affected John Wilkes Booth escape from Ford’s Theatre

The red roan is the type of horse that David Herold rode during his escape with John Wilkes Booth. Herold's horse's name was Charlie.

  • Lewis Powell’s skull
  • Penny Dreadfuls

I hope you enjoy the interview.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

UPCOMING POSTINGS FOR ‘A LITTLE TOUCH OF HISTORY’

April 25, 2010: Barry Cauchon

Here is my proposed schedule for the next few weeks on “A Little Touch of History”.  Enjoy.

  • April 26 to 30STATE YOUR CASE (No. 2) – John Elliott: “When did Booth break his leg”?
  • May 1 — May birthdays for Lincoln Friends and Foes
  • May 2 to 8AN AWESOMETALK WITH Betty Ownsbey, author “Alias Paine”, the Lewis Powell biography 
  • May 9 — Open
  • May 10 to 14STATE YOUR CASE (No. 3) – Angela Smythe “Has He Been Hiding in Plain Sight? John Wilkes Booth and the Richmond Grays”
  • May 15 — Open
  • May 16 to 22AN AWESOMETALK WITH G.C. Rivera, the Unique and Surprising Mr. P.

Note: Schedule may change without notice.

On a separate note, I had planned to interview Gloria Swift, the museum curator at Ford’s Theatre. However, Laurie Verge has informed me that Gloria has now taken a position with Fort Pulaski in Savannah, Georgia. I met Gloria back in March and she is a wonderful person. I truly wish her well in her new posting at Fort Pulaski.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

“An Awesometalk With” LAURIE VERGE, Director of the Surratt House Museum

April 18, 2010: Barry Cauchon

LINK TO INTERVIEW: An Awesometalk With LAURIE VERGE 14-Apr-10

Running Time: 24:57

I am very pleased to present my interview with Ms. Laurie Verge, Director of the Surratt House Museum in Clinton, Maryland and senior volunteer for the Surratt Society. Our talk was recorded on April 14, 2010, the 145th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. For over a year Laurie and I have been trying to make this interview happen. So when I picked one of the busiest days of the year from her calendar, she was just masochistic enough to say “Let’s do it”!

For anyone who has been involved in Lincoln assassination research, then you will probably know Laurie’s name quite well. She is an organizer, a teacher, an enabler and a matchmaker all rolled into one. She can make things happen and my personal experience with her has been very gratifying. With regards to being a matchmaker, she has directed me, along with so many others, to research specialists in the field of Lincoln assassination research and now sends inquiries my way as well. What goes around, comes around and I’m very happy to help her whenever she calls. The research community is close and works well together. Laurie certainly acts as one of the main points of entry and you will not find a more cordial and helpful person when it comes to guiding you in the right direction.

Our interview covered the following subjects:

  • the Surratt House Museum and its history
  • Mary Surratt’s guilt or innocence
  • the Surratt Society and its function
  • High Profile Projects that the Surratt Society has been involved in.
  • the type of membership the Society attracts (she will dispel the long-held belief that this is a society of conspiracy theorists)
  • Laurie’s other interests

I hope you enjoy the interview.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

GREAT UPCOMING INTERVIEWS FOR 2010 “AN AWESOMETALK WITH”

March 15, 2010: Barry Cauchon.

Hi all: I am pleased to announce a partial list of upcoming interviews planned for my 2010 series “An Awesometalk With”. Last year featured some wonderful interviews and this year will be no exception. Here are just a few of the folks who have agreed to share their thoughts with you on “An Awesometalk With”.

STEVEN G. MILLER, historian & Boston Corbett expert: Steven is considered to be one of the top experts in the world on the 16th New York Regiment and Sergeant Boston Corbett, the man who shot John Wilkes Booth. Steven’s interview was done some time ago but I only recently completed transcribing it (sorry for the delay Steve). Look for it here very soon. It has some great content and stories (interview completed, edited and awaiting approval).

MIKE KAUFFMAN, historian and author of American Brutus: Mike is one of the foremost Lincoln assassination experts in the world authoring numerous articles on the subject. He is most well-known work is American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies. Within Lincoln assassination research circles, Mike is highly respected for his research capabilities and being able to find historical information that escape many of us. Mike will share his insights into how to research an old story in new ways and the many angles one can take to find new material.

LAURIE VERGE, Director, Surratt House Museum: Laurie has been the Director of the Surratt House Museum in Clinton, MD since 1983. Anyone who has ever studied the assassination of Abraham Lincoln (from students, authors, film makers and scholars) knows Laurie, and has probably been helped by her at some point over the years. Laurie is a true matchmaker, directing the folks ‘with questions’ to the people who have ‘the answers’. She has been a tremendous supporter of mine and I’m very excited about introducing Laurie to you soon.

GLORIA SWIFT, Museum Curator, Ford’s Theatre, Washington D.C.: When Gloria phoned me recently and we had a chance to talk, I realized then that we had very similar approaches to history. Gloria has been an interpretive park ranger and curator with the National Park Service, working at such sites as Gettysburg National Military Park, Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park, and Monocacy National Battlefield. Currently she is the Museum Curator at Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site.

DR. EDWARD STEERS, JR., historian and author: Ed Steers is one of the most respected giants in the field of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, authoring ten books on the subject. But Mr. Steers’ interest in history goes beyond the assassination. He is fascinated with WWII and has just released his second WWII book, this one called “We’ll Meet Again: A Story of Love and Intrigue in the Midst of War”. He also has a keen interest in some of the great hoaxes perpetrated on the world, including the highly publicized Hitler Diaries (interview posted March 15, 2010).

BETTY J. OWNSBEY, biographer and expert on Lewis Powell, Lincoln assassination conspirator: Betty is the author of “Alias Paine”, the biography of Lewis Powell. She tells me that she loves talking up a storm on Powell and the assassination, as well as on British and American history. I also know that, like me, she is a fan of banjo music and has a collection of old and traditional recordings. Betty has been a huge supporter of the book that John Elliott and I are writing and her submissions and knowledge base have been immeasurable (interview completed and currently being edited).

JOHN ELLIOTT, my writing partner and expert on the Old Arsenal Penitentiary architectural history: I can truly pat myself on my own back when I think about how lucky I was in choosing John to partner with to write our book on the conspirators and what happened to them inside the walls of the Old Arsenal Penitentiary. John is an encyclopedia on the assassination and all the peripheral history that surrounds the event. Like me, his real interest in the assassination started as a young student, when he took his first trip to Ford’s Theatre and the Peterson House in Washington. It was the event that started both of our life-long interests in the Lincoln assassination and the happenings at the Old Arsenal Penitentiary.

So not a bad starting point for 2010. And there are more interviews to come. I just wanted to share the names of the experts who have already agreed to chat with me. I’m sure you will enjoy them all as each gets a chance to share their unique backgrounds and interests.

Best.

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com




144th ANNIVERSARY OF THE LINCOLN CONSPIRATOR HANGINGS (JULY 7, 1865)

July 7, 2009: Barry  Cauchon

Today marks the 144th anniversary of the executions by hanging of four of the Lincoln assassination conspirators. The sentences were carried out at the Washington Arsenal Penitentary at about 1:26pm. Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell (alias Payne or Paine), David Herold and George Atzerodt had all been found guilty of their involvement in the conspiracy.  This not only involved the assassination of President Lincoln and the plans to murder several other key members of Lincoln’s administration, but also included their failed plans to kidnap President Lincoln in March of 1865.

CU - Execution Party (RTDW)(292)

The day was very hot (over 100 degrees) when the prisoners were marched out to the scaffold just after 1:00pm. After seating the four condemned in chairs on the platform, General Hartranft read the five-page Order of Execution (sometimes called the Death Warrant) which is reproduced here.

CU - Major Hartranft (RTDW)(12)

War Department, Adjutant General’s Office, Washington, July 5, 1865.

To Major General W. S. Hancock, U.S. Volunteers, Commanding Middle Military Division, Washington D.C.

“Whereas, by the military commission appointed in paragraph A, Special Orders, No. 211, dated War Department, Adjutant General’s Office, Washington, May 6, 1865, and in paragraph 91, Special Order No 216, dated War Department, Adjutant General’s Office, Washington May 9, 1865, and of which Major General David Hunter, U.S. Volunteers is President, the following named persons were tried, and after mature consideration of the evidence adduced in their cases were found and sentenced as hereafter stated, as follows:

1st. David E. Herold

Finding

“Of the specification. Guilty except combining, confederating and conspiring with Edward Spangler, as to which part, thereof, Not Guilty.” 

“Of the charge – Guilty, except the words of the charge that he combined, confederated and conspired with Edward Spangler; as to which part of said charge; Not Guilty.

Sentence.

“And the commission does therefore sentence him the said David E. Herold, to be hanged by the neck until he be dead, at such time and place as the President of the United States shall direct, two thirds of the members of the commission concurring therein.”

2d. George Atzerodt.
 
Finding.

“Of the specification Guilty, except combining, confederating and conspiring with Edward Spangler: of this Not Guilty.”Finding.

“Of the charge, Guilty, except combining, confederating and conspiring with Edward Spangler; of this not Guilty.”

Sentence.

“And the commission does therefore sentence him, the said George A. Atzerodt, to be hung by the neck until he be dead at such time and place as the President of the United States shall direct, two thirds of the members of the commission concurring therein.”

3d. Lewis Payne.

Finding.

“Of the specification, Guilty, except combining, confederating and conspiring with Edward Spangler: of this Not Guilty.”

“Of the charge Guilty, except combining, confederating and conspiring with Edward Spangler; of this Not Guilty.”

Sentence.

“And the commission does therefore sentence him, the said Lewis Payne, to be hung by the neck until he be dead at such time and place as the President of the United States shall direct, two thirds of the members of the commission concurring therein.”

 4th. Mary E. Surratt.

Finding.

“Of the specification, Guilty, except as to receiving, entertaining, harboring, and concealing Samuel Arnold, and Michael O’Laughlin, and except as to combining, confederating and conspiring with Edward Spangler: of this Not Guilty.”

“Of the charge Guilty, except combining, confederating and conspiring with Edward Spangler; of this Not Guilty.”

Sentence.

“And the commission does therefore sentence her the said Mary E. Surratt, to be hung by the neck until she be dead, at such time and place as the President of the United States shall direct, two thirds of the members of the commission concurring therein.”

And whereas, the President of the United States has approved the foregoing sentences in the following order, to wit:

“Executive Mansion, “July 5th, 1865. “The foregoing sentences in the cases of David E. Herold, G.A. Atzerodt, Lewis Payne, xx, xx, xx, Mary E. Surratt, xxx, are hereby approved, and it is ordered that the sentences in the cases of David E. Herold, G.A. Atzerodt, Lewis Payne, and Mary E. Surratt, be carried into execution by the proper military authority under the direction of the Secretary of War, on the seventh day of July 1865, between the hours of ten o’clock a.m. and two o’clock p.m. of that day. x x x x x x x ” Andrew Johnson, “Presd.”

Therefore, you are hereby commanded to cause the foregoing sentences in the cases of David E. Herold, G.A. Atzerodt, Lewis Payne, and Mary E. Surratt, to be duly executed in accordance with the President’s order.

By command of the President of the United States.

(signed) E.D. Townsend, Asst. Adjt. Genl.

——————————————————————————–

After the reading of the Order of Execution was concluded, the ministers were allowed to speak and pray on behalf of their charges. Dr. Gillette spoke first on behalf of Lewis Powell, then Dr. Olds spoke on behalf of David Herold and finally Dr. J. S. Butler prayed on behalf of George Atzerodt.

Photo courtesy of Betty Ownsbey

Photo courtesy of Betty Ownsbey

People often wonder why Mrs. Surratt’s two priests did not speak publicly to the crowd. In the case of Father Walter, he was not allowed to.

Father Walter, who strongly believed in Mary Surratt’s innocence, became so outspoken over the military’s decision to hang Mrs. Surratt, that he was given an ultimatum from Secretary of War Stanton’s office. It gave him what we would call today “a gag order”, stating that if he wished to be on the scaffold with Mrs. Surratt, he would cease his verbal attacks and rabble rousing publicly. This included that he would not be allowed to speak on the scaffold. Swallowing his anger for the time being, he agreed to this and was present with her at her time of need. Neither Father Walter and Father Wiget spoke that day.

However, after the hangings, Father Walter went on the attack again, this time gaining valuable allies that would eventually help in forcing Secretary of War Stanton to resign during the political upheaval that involved impeachment proceedings against President Johnson.

Here are the three prayers that were spoken that day as recorded by the New York Times and published July 8, 1865.

Dr. Gillette’s prayer:
The prisoner, Lewis Thornton Powell, known as Payne, requests me on this occasion, to say for him, that he thanks, publicly and sincerely thanks, General Hartranft, all the officers and soldiers who had charge of him, and all persons who have ministered to his wants, for their unwavering kindness to him in this trying hour. Not an unkind word nor an ill feeling act has been made toward him. Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, we pray thee to permit us to commit this soul into thy hands, not for any claim we have to make it in ourselves, but depending as we do upon the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, grant, O Heavenly Father, we beseech thee that his spirit may be accorded an easy passage out of the world, and, if consistent with thy purposes of mercy, and thou delightest in mercy, receive him. This we humbly ask, through Jesus Christ, our Lord and our Redeemer. Amen.

Rev. Dr. Olds’ prayer:
David E. Herrold, who is here about to undergo the extreme penalty of offended law, desires me to say that he hopes your prayers my be offered up to the Most High God for him; that he forgives all who may at any time have wronged him, and asks of all forgiveness for all, the wrong or supposed wrong he has done unto them, that he thanks the officers who have had charge of him during his confinement in prison for their deeds of kindness toward him, he hopes that he dies in charity with all the world and is convinced that his soul is in the hands of God. Amen.

Rev. Dr. J. S. Butler’s prayer:
George A. Atzeroth requests me thus publicly to return his unfeigned thanks to Gen. Hartranft, and all associated with him in this prison, for their uniform courtesy and kindness during his imprisonment. And now, George A. Atzeroth, may God have mercy upon you. The ways of the transgressor is hard. The wages of sin is death; but if we freely confess our sins, God will in mercy pardon them. Christ came into the world to save sinners—even the chief of sinners. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved. The blood of the blessed Redeemer, Jesus Christ, cleanseth from all sin. You profess to have thus believed to have peace in your heart; and may God be with you in this hour of trial and suffering; and may you be enabled so to commend your soul to the Creator of it that you may have peace in this last moment of life. The Lord God Almighty, Father of Mercy, have mercy upon you, and receive you into His heavenly keeping. Lord God, Redeemer of the world, have mercy upon this man. Lord God, Holy Spirit of the Father and the Son, have mercy upon him and grant him thy peace. Amen.

After the prayers had ended, there was nothing left to do but carry out the sentences. The four prisoners were commanded to stand and moved onto the hinged platforms. Although already wearing wrist and ankle irons, their bodies were tied with strips of canvas to secure their limbs. The nooses were adjusted around their necks and white canvas hoods were placed over their heads.

CU - David Herold and George Atzerodt (ATR)(40)

CU - Lewis Powell (ATR)(15)

At this point the soldiers, ministers and other men on the scaffold stepped back and on a signal that probably came from executioner Captain Christian Rath, the two vertical posts holding up the traps were knock out by soldiers below the scaffold. This sprung the traps and the four condemned conspirators dropped. Mary Surratt and George Atzerodt are reported to have shown little to no movement and were presumed to be unconscious. However, David Herold and Lewis Powell did not lose consciousness and for the next few minutes painfully struggled in vain until mercifully, they too lost consciousness.

CU - Scaffold (RTV)(47)

After about 20 minutes or so, doctors checked each body for signs of life and finding none, pronounced the prisoners dead. The bodies would remain hanging for a few minutes more before being ordered taken down. Once cut down, the bodies were laid on their pine coffins and checked by the doctors again to determine whether any of the prisoners had broken their necks and if there were any other signs of trauma. Once recorded, the bodies were placed in their coffins with their hoods still in place and then buried in the graves that had been dug  just to the right of the scaffold.

CU - Pine Gun Boxes & Pre-Dug Graves (TPB)(596)

All of this occurred 144 years ago today, on the very hot and early afternoon of Friday, July 7, 1865.

Best

Barry