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

An Awesometalk With JOHN ELLIOTT, Co-Author “Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators”

June 12, 2010: Barry Cauchon

LINK TO AUDIO INTERVIEW: An Awesometalk With John Elliott 02-Jun-10

Running Time: 21:30

John Elliott is my friend, researcher, writer and co-author of our upcoming book called Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators. I had a chance to chat with John on June 02, 2010 and record this interview for you.

John lives in San Antonio, Texas with his wife and son. He has been a student of the Lincoln assassination since grade school and has been actively researching the subject throughout the years. We met through this blog in April, 2009 and found we had very similar interests in the Old Arsenal Penitentiary and the Lincoln conspiracy. As our friendship grew we found that we both developed a mutual respect for each other’s ability to continuously find cool stuff about this subject. It was great to make a discovery and then share it with someone who could truly appreciate its significance. Our partnership flourished. So on Saturday, September 19, 2009, I called John up and asked if he would be interested in co-authoring the book I had been working on. I had been focusing on the forensic study of the Alexander Gardner conspirator execution photographs and I knew that John could add so much more to the story. To my delight, John graciously accepted and we began working on the project.

In March of 2010, John and I presented a prototype of the book to a few select and trusted senior researchers at the Surratt Society Assassination Conference in Clinton, MD. We were blown away by the positive response we received. As well, we were invited by Laurie Verge to present our work at the 2011 conference next year (March, 2011).

As I was writing the intro to this interview, I went back and read the first email that John wrote me after my phone call to him in September. He sent it to me two days later on Monday, September 21 and he already had ideas for the book, including the name, which we have stuck with to this day “Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators”.

In part of that email he also wrote the following:

“The title is just a suggestion. Barry, I appreciate you bringing me on board to co-author but I’m still trying to figure out a way to earn my keep on this project”.

Typical of John. When you read our book, and listen to this interview, you will see exactly what he has been able to offer. Great research, cool discoveries and a great collaboration. John, I’m proud of the work you and I have done on this project and am equally proud to call you my friend.

To all my readers, please enjoy John’s interview.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

UPDATE ON LINCOLN CONSPIRATOR EXECUTION PHOTO BOOK

October 10, 2009: Barry Cauchon

Hi all: It’s been awhile since I’ve posted on my blog. Needless to say, it’s been an extremely busy summer and early fall for me. But I do have some interesting news for you.

First off, I want to give you an update on the progress of my book The Lincoln Conspirator Execution Photos: A Study in Detail. I have received lots of great compliments and encouragement from many of you regarding the book and I want to thank all of you for that. It drives me to continue to give you the best book I can create. For those of you who requested to be kept up-to-date on the progress of the book and be the first to know when the book will be released, I will be sending you an email shortly. If you are a newcomer and are interested in hearing more about the book and being a part of the mailing list, please write me at outreach@awesometalks.com and I will add you to the list.

IMPORTANT: Please be assured that I do not share my mailing lists with anyone and the sole purpose of this list is to keep you informed about the book as per your request!!!!!

And now I have a great announcement.

I’ve asked Mr. John E. Elliott (from San Antonio) to co-author the book with me.  John and I met through my blog and we both realized that we had a focused and tremendous interest in the history of the Washington Arsenal Penitentiary and in particular, what went on behind the walls during the conspirators’ trial and its aftermath. John’s research combined with my own forensic photo analysis, has created a perfect combination to make OUR book an excellent addition to anyone’s Lincoln Assassination library.

John and I are really excited about the merger and our joint project.  Our motivation is to make this book something that we would be proud to have on our own bookshelves and we know that you will feel the same.

For more information, please join my mailing list and I’ll fill you in with more details shortly.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

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.

gfsd

Best

Barry

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

March 12, 2009: Barry Cauchon

cu-herold-atzerodt-atr53

 

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

outreach@awesometalks.com

THE CORRECT ORDER OF THE LINCOLN CONSPIRATOR EXECUTION PHOTOS

February 09, 2009: Barry Cauchon.

On February 6, 2009, while preparing chapters 7 & 8 for my series on “The Lincoln Conspirator Execution Photos – A Study in Detail” I made a discovery. It seemed that the accepted order of the ten photographs of the event taken by Alexander Gardner was incorrect. If my observations are right, the order of the photos need to be revised.

Here is what I found out.

The Empty Scaffold

The Empty Scaffold

#1 – The Empty Scaffold was the first photo taken in the series. No one debates this placement.

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THE ORDER CONFLICT – The next three photographs are the images where the order is in dispute.

Arrival at Scaffold (1)

Arrival at Scaffold (1)

#2 – Arrival at Scaffold (1) was the second photo taken. In James L. Swanson and Daniel R. Weinberg’s book, “Lincoln’s Assassins: Their Trial and Execution”, this photo is incorrectly placed. It is shown as being 3rd.

reading-the-death-warrant-1421

Reading the Death Warrant

#3 – Reading the Death Warrant shown in the Swanson / Weinberg book is listed as 4th.

arrival-at-scaffold-2-2425

The Ministers Pray (historically known as “Arrival at Scaffold”)(2)

#4 – The Ministers Pray (historically called Arrival at Scaffold)(2) is shown in the Swanson / Weinberg book as the 2nd photo taken.

Before I continue I just want to say that I have great respect for the book “Lincoln’s Assassins: Their Trial and Execution”. It really is a wonderful book and I can’t recommend it enough. However, the flaw in the order of photos #2, 3 & 4  should be clarified.

When the Swanson / Weinberg book was first published in 2001, they would not have had on-line access to the Library of Congress photos that are available today. And because of those high-rez images, we are now able to zoom in and see the details that the authors and other researchers may not have been privy to.

You can see all of the detailed images from photographs 2, 3 & 4 in my series “The Lincoln Conspirator Execution Photos – A Study in Detail”, Chapters 7, 8 & 9.

But briefly, here is what I saw and discovered when I zoomed in on the details.

Photo #2: Arrival at Scaffold: The execution party has just arrived and the scaffold is now crowded with 25 people. Things to note: a) Only three of the four prisoners have been seated so far. David Herold was just beginning to sit when the photo was taken. b) Only one umbrella has been opened to shield everyone from the hot sun. c) Everyone in the photo has their hats (or head coverings) on to protect them from the sun. d) General Hartranft holds the Death Warrant in his hand and is preparing himself to read it. The soldiers and staff near him are almost in the exact same position as they will be in the next photograph.

Photo #3: Reading of the Death Warrant:  As per the numerous eyewitness reports from newspapers and individuals at the execution, the reading of the Death Warrant came next in the proceedings. a) All four prisoners are now seated. b) Four umbrellas are open. c) Everyone still has their hat or head coverings on (except for one minister who is holding an umbrella). He previously wore his hat in Photo #2.  d) General Hartranft now reads the Death Warrant with his staff and soldiers surrounding him.

Photos #4: The Ministers Pray:  After the Death Warrant was read, Rev. Dr. Abram Dunn Gillette (Lewis Powell’s minister) stepped forward to publicly thank General Hartranft and his staff (on behalf of Lewis Powell) for their kind treatment during his imprisonment. Gillette and then two other ministers prayed publicly out loud for their charges. Corporal Wm. Coxshall, the soldier who stood below the scaffold (front left) reported that ““Umbrellas were raised above the woman and Hartranft, who read the warrants and findings. Then the clergy took over, talking what seemed to me interminably… ” a) Powell and Herold have had their hats removed. Atzerodt has had his white kerchief (or nightcap) removed and placed on the railing. This could be because the ministers have asked everyone to pray. b) Rev. Dr. Abram Dunn Gillette kneels to pray by Lewis Powell’s side. Mary Surratt’s two priests attend to her (Father Walter holds a cross to her lips and Father Wiget prays from his prayer book).

Arrival at Scaffold. a
Arrival at Scaffold. a) Only three of the four prisoners have been seated so far. David Herold was just beginning to sit when the photo was taken. b) Only one umbrella has been opened to shield everyone from the hot sun. c) Everyone in the photo has their hats (or head coverings) on to protect them from the sun. d) General Hartranft holds the Death Warrant in his hand and is preparing himself to read it. The soldiers and staff near him are almost in the exact same position as they will be in the next photograph.
Reading the Death Warrant

Reading the Death Warrant. a) All four prisoners are now seated. b) Four umbrellas are open. c) Everyone still has their hat or head coverings on (except for one minister who is holding an umbrella). He previously wore his hat in Photo #2. d) General Hartranft now reads the Death Warrant with his staff and soldiers surrounding him. 

The Ministers Pray

The Ministers Pray. a) Powell and Herold have had their hats removed. Atzerodt has had his white kerchief (or nightcap) removed and placed on the railing. This could be because the ministers have asked everyone to pray. b) Rev. Abram Dunn Gillette kneels to pray by Lewis Powell’s side. Mary Surratt’s two priests attend to her (Father Walter holds a cross to her lips and Father Wiget prays from his prayer book).

To look at all of the details from these, and the other photos from this series, see Chapter 1 under this link.

https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/the-lincoln-conspirators-execution-photos-a-study-in-detail-chapter-1-introduction/BestBarryoutreach@awesometalks.com——————————————————————————————-If you are interested in reading interviews from several historians, scholars and performers, take a look at the links below.

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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.arrival-at-scaffold-1131
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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reading-the-death-warrant-69
3. Reading the Death Warrant– (large format) General Hartranft reads the Order of Execution to the prisoners and assembled crowd.
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.the-ministers-pray
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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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adjusting-the-ropes
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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getimage1
6. The Drop – (stereoscope) Gardner’s camera captures the moment just after the drop.
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all-is-done-1a1
All is Done (1) – (large format) The bodies remain hanging for about 25 minutes before being cut down.
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all-is-done-2
8. All is Done (2) – (stereoscope) The bodies remain hanging for about 25 minutes before being cut down.
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the-pine-boxes
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 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

 
 

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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)

.

 

“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 1) CIVIL WAR

1. Did you know … that during the years of the Civil War (1861 – 1865) the Atlantic hurricane seasons were very weak. Only a handful of hurricanes and tropical storms were recorded from each year, and from those, very few made landfall. However, in early November, 1861, a hurricane did hit the east coast of the United States that directly affected the Civil War. Known as the “Expedition Hurricane”, the storm began as a tropical storm on November 1, 1861 in the southeast Gulf of Mexico, moved across Florida and up the east coast. It reached hurricane strength (Category 1) on November 2nd, hitting the Outer Banks of North Carolina during the day before weakening to a tropical storm by nightfall.

Continuing northward, the storm made landfall in Massachusetts on November 3rd and eventually lost strength throughout the rest of that day.

    “EXPEDITION HURRICANE” TRACKING (NOV 1-3, 1861)

Date/Time

Latitude

Longitude

Classification

Winds

11/01/1861 6:00AM

25.5° N

82.1° W

Tropical Storm

60

11/01/1861 12:00PM

27.2° N

81.1° W

Tropical Storm

50

11/01/1861 6:00PM

29.2° N

80.1° W

Tropical Storm

60

11/02/1861 12:00AM

31.2° N

78.6° W

Category 1

70

11/02/1861 6:00AM

33.2° N

77.3° W

Category 1

70

11/02/1861 12:00PM

35.2° N

76.3° W

Category 1

70

11/02/1861 6:00PM

37.0° N

75.0° W

Tropical Storm

60

11/03/1861 12:00AM

38.7° N

73.8° W

Tropical Storm

60

11/03/1861 6:00AM

40.3° N

72.8° W

Tropical Storm

60

11/03/1861 12:00PM

42.0° N

71.5° W

Tropical Storm

50

11/03/1861 6:00PM

44.0° N

70.0° W

Tropical Storm

50

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: State Climate Office of North Carolina

http://www.nc-climate.ncsu.edu/climate/details.php?snum=68

The reason the hurricane was known as the “Expedition Hurricane”, was because the Union had launched the largest fleet of warships and transports ever assembled (over 75 ships and 12,000 soldiers) on October 29, 1861. It was known as the Port Royal Expedition and was intended to set up a naval blockade at Port Royal, South Carolina. However, when the expedition encountered the hurricane on November 2nd off the coast of Cape Hatteras, NC, the fleet was scattered and three ships were sunk. Eventually the expedition regrouped and one by one, arrived at Port Royal. On November 7, 1861 a short battle ensued between the fleet and the two forts guarding the port; Fort Beauregard and Fort Walker. The fleet was overpowering and the battle was easily won by the Union.

For more on the Port Royal Expedition, refer to:

http://www.awod.com/gallery/probono/cwchas/portry.html

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A letter from Gustavus V. Fox to Abraham Lincoln (Naval Affairs) on Tuesday, November 05, 1861 alludes to the storm that hit the Union naval fleet. This is from the Library of Congress web site. See link below.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Navy Dept.

Nov. 5th 61

Sir,

A telegraph from Balt. this morning to the Dept. announces that the fleet were seen 30 miles north of Charleston Sat. night. One of the transports had ret. suffering slightly from some cause. We have no information that the gale was severe with them on the contrary all seemed right Sat. night.

 

Most sincerely

G. V. Fox

http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/P?mal:5:./temp/~ammem_yTuH::

 

2. Did you know … that horses suffered heavy casualties during the Civil War. The armies used horses to not only act as heroic steeds for the Cavalry, but also to transport men, supplies, artillery and equipment. In the Battle of Gettysburg, it is estimated that over 3000 horses were killed during the three day confrontation!

Gettysburg 1863

Gettysburg 1863

But battle was not only the cause of death for horses. As with soldiers, a high percentage of deaths was attributed to disease, exhaustion and at times, starvation. According to the article “The Horse In the Civil War” written by Deborah Grace, “Despite the thousands of horses killed or wounded in battle, the highest number were lost to disease or exhaustion. The Tenth Massachusetts Battery lost 157 horses between October 18, 1862, and April 9, 1865. Out of these horses, 112 died from disease. Forty-five of these succumbed to glanders. Glanders, a highly contagious disease that affects the skin, nasal passages, and respiratory tracts of a horse, was most widespread. Another forty-five horses from the same battery were lost to fatigue; they simply became too exhausted to work and were put to death”. This short article is fascinating and I recommend it highly. Link to:

http://www.reillysbattery.org/Newsletter/Jul00/deborah_grace.htm

 

3. Did you know … that, according to estimates, there were about 280,000 Federal deserters from the Union military and another 110,000 deserters from the Confederate ranks. All told, about 11% of the entire military forces from both North and South deserted. Although the punishment for desertion could be as severe as death by firing squad (or hanging if the offence involved treason or other henous crime), it was left to the discretion of the court martial to determine. According to Florida Reenactors Online, “Approximately 500 soldiers (north and south combined) were executed for capital crimes. The Union army’s records show that they executed 267 men. This included 147 deserters, 67 murderers, 19 mutineers, 23 rapists and 11 others for various crimes”.

Execution of Deserter by firing squad

Execution of Deserter by firing squad

For more information on Civil War desertion and other offenses and punishments during the Civil War, please read “Crimes and Punishments in the Civil War (Parts 1 and 2) – Crimes and Offenses”, see the two links below.

http://www.floridareenactorsonline.com/crimespunishments1.htm

http://www.floridareenactorsonline.com/crimespunishments2.htm

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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