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

THE BOOTH AUTOPSY PHOTO: A MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT COMING THIS WEEK

harpers-weekly-may-13-1865

May 29, 2013

Barry Cauchon

As many of you know, my research partner, John Elliott and I have been working on our book, “Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators” which is due for release at the end of this year. On May 17, John was investigating aspects of photographer Timothy O’Sullivan’s involvement in the Lincoln conspirator photo sessions conducted aboard the Union monitors Saugus and Montauk. During his search, John discovered a major find of historical importance related to the John Wilkes Booth autopsy photograph.

For those of you not familiar with the story of John Wilkes Booth’s autopsy photograph and the significance of what will be presented here and on our Facebook page “Inside the Walls”, I will quickly summarize what this is about.

On April 26, 1865, after twelve days of being on the run following Lincoln’s assassination, John Wilkes Booth and his accomplice David Herold were tracked down by Union soldiers in Bowling Green, Virginia. After a short standoff, Herold gave himself up but Booth, refusing to surrender, was shot and died on site. Herold and the body of Booth were transported back to Washington and in the early morning hours of April 27, delivered to the USS Montauk, a Union monitor anchored 100 yards offshore from the Navy Yard. Moored next to the Montauk was a second monitor, the USS Saugus. The two ships were heavily guarded and received Herold, who joined seven other prisoners suspected of being involved in the plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln and other government officials. Booth’s body was placed on a carpenter’s bench on the deck of the Montauk. Later that morning, photographer Alexander Gardner, who had visited the ships over the previous week and a half for the purpose of photographing some of the prisoners, was called upon again. Gardner and an assistant were summoned to photograph the autopsy of John Wilkes Booth. According to a letter written by Detective James A. Wardell published in Mark Katz’ 1999 book “Witness to an Era: The Life and Photographs of Alexander Gardner”, Wardell reported that he was instructed to collect Gardner and his assistant (Timothy O’Sullivan) and escort them to the Navy Yard for the sole purpose of photographing Booth’s autopsy. Only one photograph was to be taken and he was instructed to personally accompany the assistant back to the studio to obtain one print from that negative. He was then to deliver the negative and print to Secretary of War Stanton at the War Department. Based on Wardell’s letter, he did as he was told and went to the War Department where he met Col. Lafayette Baker just outside of Stanton’s office. Wardell gave Baker the envelope containing the negative and print. Once satisfied with its content, Baker dismissed Wardell. The photograph has never been seen since. 

In the world of Lincoln Assassination research circles and Civil War photography investigators, this photograph is considered to be one of the Holy Grails of relics associated with this tragic event.

Besides the Wardell letter, other clues point to its existence. A NY Tribune article published on April 28, 1865 stated that a photograph was taken. Then in May, two woodcut illustrations were published (one in Harper’s Weekly and one in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper). Both drawings looked similar in detail and supposedly were based on Gardner’s actual photograph (a practice often employed by the newspapers since printing technology to reproduce photographs didn’t exist at that time). To further add to the belief that the photograph existed, in 1952, a fourteen year old boy name Ron Rietveld discovered an authentic photograph of Abraham Lincoln in his coffin. This photograph had originally been confiscated by Secretary of War Stanton and was thought to be destroyed. The belief was that if Stanton held onto this photograph, then in all likelihood he kept the photograph of Booth’s autopsy as well.

This week, John and I will publish one of the biggest finds we’ve ever made since we began investigating and researching the story of Lincoln’s assassination. And it will shed new and very exciting information about the Booth autopsy photograph. Stay tuned.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

Boy at the Hanging Revisited…Your Opinion Welcomed

October 01, 2010: Barry Cauchon

A young boy (left) views the hanging bodies of Mary Surratt and Lewis Powell on July 7, 1865.

This week, I had a series of emails from Professor of History, Martha Sandweiss at Princeton University. She had read my article from March 07, 2009 called Who Was the Boy at the Hanging (Lincoln Conspirators Execution Photos). This features a story by researcher Steven G. Miller based on a 1914 Washington Star article sourced by Michael Kauffmann. The piece focused on trying to identify a boy found in one of the ten Alexander Gardner photographs of the Lincoln conspirator executions. In the photograph, the young boy stands fixated in front of the scaffold gazing upon the lifeless bodies of the four executed conspirators.

Professor Sandweiss complimented the story and says the Miller article is an excellent hypothesis. But she believes that the image of the boy, identified as John C. Collins, seems to show a boy much younger in age (8-10 years old) than Collins was on July 7, 1865. Collins was born on September 19, 1850 which would have made him 14 years old at the time of the executions. Professor Sandweiss believes that there is about a 4-6 year difference in age between the boy in the photo and Collins.

How old is this boy?

As part of Professor Sandweiss’ research into the story about this ‘boy’, she has questioned the reasons for this age difference. She concedes that Collins was probably at the hangings but challenges whether the image is actually of him? Could this be someone else? Are there records of other boys attending the executions?

To answer the last question, I can tell you that there was at least one other boy present. The person I’m referring to was Alfred C. Gibson, one of General Hartranft’s clerks. At the time of the executions, he was probably around 16 years old. In two different newspaper interviews given between October, 1927 and April, 1928 (over 62 years after the executions), Gibson claimed he witnessed the executions and stood about ten feet in front of the scaffold and George Atzerodt’s position. Gibson’s statements should be taken with a grain of salt as some of his ‘memories’ conflict with other first person eyewitness accounts. But if his recollections are true, and that he did indeed stand in front of the scaffold, then it is not far from the location where the ‘Boy at the Hanging’ is found.

As tempting as it is to suggest that Gibson could have been the ‘boy at the hanging’, I personally believe that this is not the case. The main reason is how the boy in the photo is dressed and equipped. Gibson had a room inside the penitentiary so he would not have needed to carry a gunny sack or other field equipment. John C. Collins or another field soldier, would more than likely have needed these items.

Does this help Professor Sandweiss to further her research? Perhaps not, other than to show that at least one other young boy was present at the hangings. Since that is the case, there is no reason to believe that others were not there as well. If this boy was not John C. Collins or Alfred C. Gibson, then I’m at a loss to know who it could be. To date, I have not come across any research that suggests any other boys there that day.

I am sure that some of you are going to point out that the professor’s assertion about this not being John C. Collins, is based solely on viewing just one photograph. It is subjective and based on opinion rather than scientific fact. Other viewers might be perfectly content believing that the boy in the photo is fourteen. These are all fair statements but please let me be clear about why I posted Professor Sandweiss’ challenge here. Especially for you junior researchers, this is an important lesson. Where research is concerned, I am a huge believer in the need to challenge the status quo. Do not take history at face value. Don’t believe one version of history is correct just because it seems plausible without checking and cross referencing as many other sources as you can. I can’t tell you how many times my mind has been changed about something because better evidence was uncovered to disprove my former belief.

When Professor Sandweiss challenged whether the boy was 8-10 versus 14 years old, it wasn’t to be subjective about it. The age conflict didn’t sit right with her and it compelled her to investigate the subject further. And now she is actively seeking the truth. That is one way how research starts. Curiosity. Enlightenment. Challenge. Seek out more information to find the truth. Research, research, research. Cross reference. Challenge your own results. Research, research, research. Always be open to other possibilities. Believe your theory if it is plausible. If doubts remain, challenge those theories again. Never stop looking for answers.

I encourage people to weigh in on this subject. Whether you wish to comment on the story of John C. Collins or discuss research methodology, I’d love to hear from you.

Have a great day.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

THE LINCOLN CONSPIRATORS EXECUTION PHOTOS

November 6, 2008: Barry Cauchon.
The date was July 7, 1865. Alexander Gardner and his assistant Timothy O’Sullivan took a series of ten photographs using both a large format camera with collodion glass-plate negatives and a stereo camera (used to make 3D stereoscope pictures). This series of photographs are considered on of the first examples of photojournalism ever recorded.
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THE TEN GARDNER PHOTOS TAKEN OF THE LINCOLN CONSPIRATORS EXECUTIONS
 
the-empty-scaffold1
1. The Empty Scaffold – (large format) Reporters, soldiers and witnesses gather around the scaffold in 100 degree heat awaiting the execution party to arrive.
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2. Arrival on Scaffold  – (large format) The execution party, the prisoners and their guards, their ministers, etc. have arrived and gathered on the scaffold platform. The chief executioner was Captain Christian Rath. Three of the four conspirators have been seated. Only David Herold still remains standing.
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3. Reading the Death Warrant– (large format) General Hartranft reads the Order of Execution to the prisoners and assembled crowd.
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4. The Ministers Pray – (stereoscope) The execution party now listens to the ministers praying for the souls of the condemned. Reverend Abram Dunn Gillette is kneeling beside Lewis Powell.
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5. Adjusting the Ropes– (large format) The four conspirators are now standing (Mrs. Surratt is supported by two soldiers) and is being bound. A hood has already been placed over Lewis Powell’s head by Lafayette Baker’s detective John H. Roberts. The nooses are being fitted around the necks of David Herold and George Atzerodt.
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6. The Drop – (stereoscope) Gardner’s camera captures the moment just after the drop.
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All is Done (1) – (large format) The bodies remain hanging for about 25 minutes before being cut down.
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8. All is Done (2) – (stereoscope) The bodies remain hanging for about 25 minutes before being cut down.
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9. The Pine Boxes – (large format) The pine boxes are stacked around the temporary graves dug next to the scaffold.
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10. Rooftop View of Old Arsenal Yard and scaffold  – (large format). The bodies of the conspirators still hang from the scaffold.
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Best
Barry
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DID YOU KNOW (PART 13) ABRAHAM LINCOLN

1. Did you know …that Abraham Lincoln’s bed was oversized to accommodate his lengthy body. The bed was 9′-0″ long and 9′-0″ high to the top of the headboard.

Lincoln's Bed

 2. Did you know …that, besides President Lincoln, Major Henry Reed Rathbone was not the only person to be attacked by John Wilkes Booth at the time of the assassination? It’s true! After Booth shot the President and lept from the box, he crossed the stage, turned right and ran down a narrow aisle that led to the rear door of the theatre. Unexpectedly, he bumped into William Withers, Jr. the orchestra leader, who was just coming off of a break. Booth slashed at Withers twice with his knife, cutting his coat and knocking him to the floor.  Upon exiting the building, Booth grabbed the reins of his horse from “Peanuts” Burroughs, hitting him with the butt end of his knife and knocking him to the ground. Booth then rode off, fleeing into the darkness.

Slashed coat of orchestra leader

Slashed coat of orchestra leader William Withers, Jr.

3. Did you know … the “dates of capture” for the 10 accused Lincoln assassination conspirators? If not, here they are now in order of their capture.

April 14, 1865 – Day 0 – Lincoln is shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre and Secretary of State Seward is attacked at his home by Lewis Powell while co-conspirator David E. Herold waits outside. Herold will later meet up with Booth as they try to escape into Virginia.

Lincoln's assassination at Ford's Theatre

Lincoln's assassination at Ford's Theatre

April 17, 1865 – Day 3[1] Lewis Powell and [2] Mary Surratt are arrested at Surratt’s boarding house. [3] Samuel Arnold, [4] Michael O’Laughlen and [5] Edman (Ned or Edward) Spangler are also arrested on this day.

April 20, 1865 – Day 6 – [6] George Atzerodt is arrested. On April 14, Atzerodt rented a room in the same hotel that Vice President Andrew Johnson was staying to make it easier for him to assassinate the VP. Atzerodt chickened out but was found to be in possession of weapons and property of John Wilkes Booth and was taken into custody.

April 24, 1865 – Day 10 – [7] Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, who set Booth’s broken leg and allowed Booth and Herold to spend the night at his farm, is arrested.

April 26, 1865 – Day 12 – At the Garrett farm in Bowling Green, Virginia, [8] David E. Herold gives himself up when the barn he and Booth occupy is surrounded by Federal troops and set on fire. A short time later [9] John Wilkes Booth is shot and killed by Sergeant Boston Corbett.

November 27, 1866 – Day 592 (1 year, 7 months, 13 days)[10] John Surratt, the son of executed conspirator Mary Surratt, initially escaped capture by hiding in Canada and then fleeing to Europe. He is eventually captured in Alexandria, Egypt on November 27, 1866 and returned to the United States to stand trial. Due to a hung jury deadlocked at four “Guilty” and four “Not Guilty” votes, he is acquitted of the charges and released.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

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To see the entire series, click here “SUMMARY OF THE “DID YOU KNOW” ABRAHAM LINCOLN SERIES (Parts 1-15)”         

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

 

“An Awesometalk With” ROGER NORTON, Webmaster of the ‘Abraham Lincoln Research Site’ (posted on December 30, 2008)

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“An Awesometalk With” DR. THOMAS SCHWARTZ, Illinois State Historian (posted on December 08, 2008)

 

“An Awesometalk With” HAROLD HOLZER, Lincoln Scholar (posted on November 10, 2008)

 

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DID YOU KNOW (Part 11) ABRAHAM LINCOLN

1. Did you know … that Abraham Lincoln could play a musical instrument? According to Weldon Petz, one the America’s leading Lincoln scholars, “Lincoln played the jews’ harp at the debates (with incumbent Democratic U.S. senator Stephen Douglas during the 1858 Illinois state election campaign)”.

2. Did you know …in 1876, Abraham Lincoln’s body was almost the victim of a grave robbing plot? Unbelievably, it’s true. It happened on November 7, 1876, when a team of Chicago counterfeiters attempted to steal Lincoln’s body Their plan was to ransom his body for both money and the release of one of their incarcerated members (their main counterfeit engraver!!!). For the complete story, please go to the Abraham Lincoln Research Site at   http://rogerjnorton.com/Lincoln47.html 

3. Did you know … that four soldiers of Company F, 14th Regiment, Veteran Reserve Corps were assigned the duty of springing the traps that hung the Lincoln conspirators?

The conspirators stood on two separate hinged platforms which were each supported by one vertical heavy wooden post. Stationed below the platform were four soldiers assigned to knock these posts out. On a signal from executioner Christian Rath, the posts were knocked out, thus springing the traps. Reports differ as to how many soldiers actually did the deed (two or four). As you can see from the photo by Alexander Gardner, four soldiers are present beneath the gallows. The soldier at the front left, leaning on the post is Private William Coxshall. At the time of the photo Coxshall, who was impatiently waiting for the formal process on the scaffold to end, stated the following. “I became nauseated, what with the heat and waiting, and taking hold of the supporting post, I hung on and vomited”.

Four soldiers wait below the gallows to "spring the trap"

Four soldiers wait below the gallows to "spring the traps". Private William Coxshall is the soldier holding the front left post below the platform.

In an engraving (below) from Harper’s Weekly dated July 22, 1865, two soldiers, not four are shown dislodging the posts. So the actual number seems to conflict. Do you know the answer to this question?

The actual answer is indeed four men. Their names were Coxshall, Shoup, Haslett and Taylor.

Engraving of Lincoln conspirators execution from Harper's Weekly, July 22,1865

Engraving of Lincoln conspirators execution from Harper's Weekly, July 22,1865

 

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

 
 

—————————————————————–

To see the entire series, click here “SUMMARY OF THE “DID YOU KNOW” ABRAHAM LINCOLN SERIES (Parts 1-15)”         

—————————————————————–

  

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

 

“An Awesometalk With” ROGER NORTON, Webmaster of the ‘Abraham Lincoln Research Site’ (posted on December 30, 2008)

.

 

“An Awesometalk With” DR. THOMAS SCHWARTZ, Illinois State Historian (posted on December 08, 2008)

 

“An Awesometalk With” HAROLD HOLZER, Lincoln Scholar (posted on November 10, 2008)

 

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HANGMAN CHRISTIAN RATH: INCOMPETENCE, COMPLICITY OR JUST COMMON PRACTICE

Captain Christian Rath - Chief executioner / hangman of the condemned Lincoln conspirators

Captain Christian Rath – Chief executioner / hangman of the condemned Lincoln conspirators

According to published reports from the day of the Lincoln conspirator hangings on July 7, 1865, at least two of the four executed did not die cleanly (immediately). In fact, David E. Herold suffered for as much as 5 minutes while Lewis Powell (aka Paine) took even longer. Did the hangman, Captain Christian Rath of the Seventeenth Michigan Infantry, First Division, Ninth Corps, do his best even though it resulted in a questionable outcome? Or did Rath know exactly what he was doing and spitefully adjusted the ropes improperly to ensure that the victims suffered harshly for their crimes!

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Preparations are made for the hanging of the Lincoln Conspirators on July 7, 1865.

One could argue that professional hangmen do not always make the correct decisions in carrying out their duties and as a result, the condemned can unintentionally experience agonizing deaths. In America, during the time of the Civil War, a “short drop” was used as the standard in hanging. This would involve a drop of 4 to 6 feet regardless of the height or weight of the criminal. England would later develop the “long drop”, where precise calculations of the criminal’s height and weight would be made to determine the appropriate distance of the drop. According to the article “Hanged by the Neck Until You Are Dead” at  http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/hanging.html  “A standard drop of 5 feet was used for the Lincoln conspirators despite significant weight variations”.

What factors can be attributed to Rath’s performance on the scaffold on that hot July day? Considering that 50% of the hangings appear to have been mishandled, it is easy to become suspicious about the results. The first question to ask is whether Rath was a competent or experienced hangman?  He was not. Only one other time was he scheduled to be the hangman at an execution but a last minute reprieve of the defendant relieved him of that responsibility.  So whether he was capable of performing this multiple hanging or not, the appearance of potential sabotage is raised.

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Apparently, George Atzerodt (right) and Mary Surratt (not shown) were the only two conspirators to die cleanly.

The second question is more ‘conspiracy based’ and hints at a more sinister motive. Could Rath have intentionally manipulated the event, shortening the ropes to the detriment of the victims? Given the mood of the day and the outright blood lust to avenge both Lincoln’s assassination and to punish the South for the war, it is plausible that this scenario is possible. Perhaps Rath, acting alone, or on orders from his commanders or government officials, ensured that some, if not all, of the conspirators experienced difficult deaths. In particular, Lewis Powell, who attacked Secretary of State William Seward, and David E. Herald, who accompanied Booth during their 12-day run from the authorities, suffered the most on the gallows.

In the end, it’s all conjecture but makes for an interesting discussion/debate. My personal belief is that the hangings were appropriately arranged based on the knowledge and standard of the day. Evidence shows that Rath very much respected Powell and had no ill will towards him. His hope that he would die quickly was genuine and I believe that he did everything he could to ensure that Powell’s hanging was quick and painless. Regrettably, the results did not work out that way. Please feel free to add your input and opinions.

I look forward to hearing from you on this subject.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

NOTE: Below, is an excerpt from the article “Hanged by the Neck Until You Are Dead” found at http://www.geocities.com/trctl11/hanging.html which discusses the intricacies of hanging and the protocols involved. It is appropriate for this discussion.
 
How hanging causes death.
Hanging with no or insufficient drop typically produces death by strangulation (asphyxia) due to the weight of the person’s body pulling down on the noose, causing it to tighten and constrict the trachea (air passage) and applying pressure to the large blood vessels in the neck. The condemned person usually struggles for some time after suspension, due to the physical pain caused by the noose. It can take up to 3 minutes for the person to lapse into unconsciousness in this form of hanging, as the rope occludes the jugular veins and carotid arteries but the vertebrae protects the vertebral and spinal arteries which also supply blood to the brain. However, these arteries go outside the fourth vertebrae instead of inside it, which subjects them to blockage if the pressure on the neck is high enough (usually about 40-50 lbs. for a normal person) and this can cause the loss of consciousness in less than 15 seconds. Death can also come from sudden stoppage of the heart due to pressure on the carotid arteries which can cause a lethal carotid sinus reflex or from Vagal reflex (pressure on the Vagal nerve) which causes unconsciousness very quickly. This form of hanging is typical in suicides and it quite normal for the inquest to find that the victim died from heart failure rather than strangulation.
After suspension the face may become engorged and cyanosed (turned blue through lack of oxygen). The tongue may protrude and rippling movements of the body and limbs may occur which are usually attributed to nervous and muscular reflexes. There exist many pictures of actual hangings, both judicial and suicide, which seem to show that the person died quickly and quite peacefully.
In death, the body typically shows marks of suspension, e.g., bruising and rope marks on the neck and in some cases traces of urine, semen and feces. Male prisoners sometimes have penile erections and even ejaculate while hanging.
This form of asphyxial death is known, medically as anoxia, as the brain becomes starved of oxygen. Whole body death results usually within less than 20 minutes.

Where a measured drop is used, it takes between a quarter and a third of a second for a person to reach the end of the rope after the trap opens. The force produced by the prisoner’s body weight multiplied by the length of fall and the force of gravity, coupled with the position of the knot is designed to cause a virtually instant fracture-dislocation of the neck which leads to death by comatose asphyxia. Typically brain death will occur in around 3-6 minutes and whole body death within 5-15 minutes.
The cause of death is still asphyxia but the condemned person is deeply unconscious at the time due to dislocation of the cervical vertebrae and the crushing or separation of the spinal cord. The face may come engorged and then cyanosed and the tongue may protrude. Some slight movements of the limbs and body may occasionally occur and are attributed to spinal reflexes. The prisoner may urinate and/or defecate as their muscles relax. The heart can continue to beat for as long as 25 minutes after the drop.

Does the prisoner feel pain after the drop?
Obviously no one can be sure but it is generally held that if they do feel pain, it is only during the instant that their neck is broken.
The witnessed hangings of WestleyAllan Dodd (see above) in Washington and Billy Bailey in Delaware did not indicate any obvious signs of conscious suffering.
It is probable that many people blackout as they fall through the trap and are already unconscious before they reach the end of the drop.
However, according to Harold Hillman, a British physiologist who has studied executions, “the dangling person probably feels cervical pain, and suffers from an acute headache, as a result of the rope closing off the veins of the neck. It had been generally assumed that fracture-dislocation of the neck causes instantaneous loss of sensation. Sensory pathways from below the neck are ruptured, but the sensory signals from the skin above the noose and from the trigeminal nerve may continue to reach the brain until hypoxia blocks them”.
In the opinion of Dr. Cornelius Rosse, the chairman of the Department of Anatomy at the University of Washington School of Medicine, the belief that fracture of the spinal cord causes instantaneous death is wrong in all but a small fraction of cases.

END.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

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