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.

https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/for-sale-a-peek-inside-the-walls-supplements-1-2-3/.

No. 1: 2011 Supplement

No. 1: 2011 Supplement

Thank you.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

July 07, 1865 – Lincoln Conspirators Executed

July 07, 2010: Barry Cauchon

It was 145 years ago today that four of the eight conspirators tried for the assassination of Abraham Lincoln were marched to the gallows to carry out their sentences of execution.

This account is a simplified version of what occurred that day.

This image is from the front page of the March 21, 1896 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer (sent to me by Boston Corbett expert Steven G. Miller)

George Atzerodt, David Herold, Lewis Powell and Mary Surratt (the first woman to be executed by the United States Federal Government) had received the news of their sentences only 24 hours earlier and now, their time had come.

Just after 1:00pm, the four condemned were escorted from their cell block into the south yard of the Arsenal Penitentiary where they had been held since early May. Their trial had been conducted in a makeshift courtroom on the third floor of the east wing of the facility.

As they emerged from the penitentiary’s heavily fortified door, they were accompanied by twenty-two other people (military officers, soldiers, detectives and clergy). One by one the conspirators were assisted up the thirteen steps of the scaffold and seated. The executioner, Captain Christian Rath, placed Mary Surratt in the chair farthest to the left. He later stated that this was the traditional “place of honor” for a hanging. Next to Mrs. Surratt was Lewis Powell, the man who attempted to assassinate the Secretary of State, William H. Seward on the same night that the President was cut down. Next came David Herold, who accompanied John Wilkes Booth during his 12-day flight after the assassination. Herold gave himself up when he and Booth were cornered in the tobacco barn at the Garrett Farm. Finally, George Atzerodt was seated at the far right side of the scaffold. Atzerodt’s assignment had been to kill Vice President Andrew Johnson, which he never even attempted, but was still convicted for his part in the conspiracy.

All four sat quietly while General John F. Hartranft read the Orders of Execution (the death warrant). Upon completing the reading, Lewis Powell’s minister stepped forward and  spoke on behalf of Powell, thanking the staff and soldiers who had guarded him for all their kindnesses and then said a prayer for Powell’s soul. Next came David Herold’s minister who did the same. George Atzerodt’s minister spoke last and repeated the process, thanking the staff and then praying for Atzerodt’s soul.

The two Catholic priests who accompanied Mary Surratt did not speak publicly and prayed with her quietly during this time.

After the last prayer had been said, there was nothing left to do but prepare the four for hanging. They were told to stand and were positioned on the traps that would be knocked out from under them in a few short minutes. Designated officers, detectives and the executioner bound their legs and arms with cloth strips, fitted the nooses around their necks and placed canvas hoods over their heads.

As soon as all were prepared, the assistants stepped back off of the traps, leaving only the four condemned standing and waiting. Quickly a signal was given and the traps were sprung. The four dropped. Two seemed to lose consciousness immediately and suffered little if any, while the other two remained conscious and ‘died hard’.

Thus brought to a close, the harshest punishments doled out by the military commission assigned to try the conspirators accused in the assassination of President Lincoln.

As many of you know, John Elliott (my writing and research partner) and I are preparing an in-depth study on the executions and the events that happened within the walls of the Arsenal Penitentiary. Our book is called “Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators”. It will be filled with photographs, illustrations, forensic and detailed analysis, architectural drawings, fascinating stories and a full review of the Alexander Gardner execution photographs.

We anticipate the book will be ready by the end of 2010.

If you wish to receive updated information on the book, please sign up on my update list by writing me at outreach@awesometalks.com and put the word BOOK in the subject line. As well, visit our Facebook page at Inside the Walls (click on the icon at the upper right hand side of this page).

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com