NOTE: These two articles below have been updated on August 20, 2008.

July 24, 2008: Barry Cauchon:

1. What is the current thinking about the purported John Badger Bachelder photo of Lincoln in death? Is it genuine, an outright fake or still up for debate?

Unauthenticated photo of Lincoln after death, April 16,1865

Unauthenticated photo of Lincoln after death, reported to be taken in the White House on April 16,1865 by John B. Bachelder.

For those of you who are not familiar with this disputed photo, the controversial image was apparently taken at the White House on April 16, 1865, the day after Lincoln died.  
The photographer was John B. Bachelder who took the photo in low light conditions to use as a reference shot for making an engraving. Like many photos of the day, it was touched up by adding more hair to Lincoln’s chin.
John B. Bachelder and wife 1890

John B. Bachelder and wife 1890

You rarely see this image published in Lincoln-related documentation because it’s authenticity is highly in dispute. On the other hand, there are still some true believers. I assume the debate continues.
To date, there is only one photograph of Lincoln in death that is accepted as authentic.
It was taken while he was lying in state in NYC during the Funeral Train tour from Washington DC to Springfield, IL.
Authenticated photo of Lincoln in his casket taken by John Gurney, Jr. on April 24, 1865 in New York City

Authenticated photo of Lincoln in his casket taken by Jeremiah Gurney, Jr. on April 24, 1865 in New York City

The photo was taken by Jeremiah Gurney, Jr. on Monday, April 24, 1865 in the rotunda of New York’s City Hall while the president’s body was being prepared for public viewing. Lincoln historians have accepted this photo as genuine and is not in question.

Truth is sometimes hard to find, so the question still remains. Is the Bachelder photo genuine, an outright fake or still up for debate?

NOTE: As this is a ‘very hot topic’ on some websites, I would prefer that the battles be waged elsewhere. However, if you wish to add ‘your view’ without name calling, I’ll gladly post your comments. Debate is good but don’t get beligerent! It won’t be tolerated. Thank you.



2. Lincoln at Gettysburg – Images of President Lincoln may have been found in Alexander Gardner photos taken on November 19, 1863.

Two photos taken by Alexander Gardner on November 19, 1863 at the dedication ceremonies for Soldier’s Cemetery at Gettysburg were discovered to have images of what looks like Abraham Lincoln in the crowd.

Enhanced image from Alexander Gardiner photo of Gettysburg Dedication Ceremonies taken on Nov. 19, 1863. Is this Abraham Lincoln in the stovetop hat?

Enhanced image from Alexander Gardner photo of Gettysburg Dedication Ceremonies taken on Nov. 19, 1863. Is this Abraham Lincoln in the stovetop hat?

In December, 2006, John Richter, the director for the Center for Civil War Photography was viewing images from a collection of over 5000 Civil War photos made available online to the public by the Library of Congress. Mr. Richter was focusing on a series of 3-D stereoscope images of the crowds at the Gettysburg Soldier’s Cemetery dedication ceremonies taken on the day that Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address.

“I noticed there were three negatives from the dedication that were taken close together,” he said. “That struck me as odd because of the difficulty and cost of taking pictures back then. I also noticed the camera was not pointed at the stand but more toward the right. I zoomed in, and that was when I saw this figure.”

In the distance, a tall bearded man wearing a stovepipe hat was spotted. The man is on horseback and is part of the procession leading to the stage.

One of the enhanced images shows Lincoln passing by a row of soldiers, and a second shows him saluting them while wearing white gloves. The third was not clear. He has his face partially turned away with his back to the camera.

Although there is not 100% proof that this is Lincoln, the series of photos was presented at the Lincoln Forum Conference at Gettysburg held in November, 2007. Harold Holzer, vice chairman of the forum and respected Lincoln author and historian, indicated that many experts, including himself, spoke highly of the photos and confirmed their belief that these are genuine pictures of Lincoln at Gettysburg taken a short time before his famous address.

Detractors argue that the person identified as Lincoln could actually be Ward Hill Lamon, Lincoln’s friend and self appointed bodyguard. He also wore a beard and favored wearing stovepipe hats. Lamon accompied Lincoln to the Gettysburg ceremonies that day.

Ward Hill Lamon

Up to this point, the only authenticated photo of Lincoln at Gettysburg was found by Josephine Cobb at the National Archives in Washington DC in 1952.

Lincoln at Gettysburg

Enhanced photo of Lincoln on stage prior to giving Gettysburg Address.

So, is the figure that Mr. Richter found really Abraham Lincoln? Many want to believe that it is. What do you think?

If you go to the attached link from USA TODAY, they have done a wonderful job of posting the images. Use their ‘Pan and Zoom’ feature to examine the details of both photos. Kudo’s to the folks who put this together.

Library of Congress Images: The actual photographs, which belong to the public, can be seen at the Library of Congress Web site, Enter “stereograph+civil war” in the search field.

Center for Civil War Photography: You can see the photos at the Center for Civil War Photography’s Web site,





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) 




In this version of DID YOU KNOW (Part 10) ABRAHAM LINCOLN, you’ll discover that there are an amazing amount of unique facts found about Mr. Lincoln after his death.

1. Did you know … that Abraham Lincoln was the first President of the United States to be embalmed?

2. Did you know … that after the president’s death, over one million people looked upon Lincoln’s face in open casket viewings?

It’s true. After it was decided that Lincoln would be buried in his hometown of Springfield, Illinois, a special funerary train trip was planned. Lincoln’s Funeral Train would essentially take the reverse route used by the President-elect in 1861 from Springfield to Washington. This time however, both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh would be bypassed in favor of Chicago.

The train car called "United States" was used as Lincoln's Funeral Car.                                                                             This car, called the United States, carried the coffins of both President Lincoln and his son, WIllie.

The Lincoln Funeral Train in Harrisburg, PA.

The Lincoln Funeral Train in Harrisburg, PA.

The coffin with the remains of Lincoln’s 11 year old son, Willie, who died of typhoid fever in the White House in 1862, was placed on the train with his father. Both would be buried together in Springfield.

The train dubbed “The Lincoln Special” left Washington DC on April 21, 1865 and arrived in Springfield on May 3rd.

Lincoln Funeral Train Route (Apr 21 - May 3, 1865)

Lincoln Funeral Train Route (Apr 21 - May 3, 1865)

During the 1,654 mile, 13 day trek, the train traveled through 180 towns and cities, of which only 11 were allowed to host open-casket viewings. These cities were:

1.   Baltimore, MD

2.   Harrisburg, PA

3.   Philadelphia, PA

4.   New York, NY

5.   Albany, NY

6.   Buffalo, NY

7.   Cleveland, OH

8.   Columbus, OH

9.   Indianapolis, IN

10.  Chicago, IL

11.  Springfield, IL

Sidebar:As early as the New York stopover, observers noticed that Lincoln’s face was showing signs of blackening and discolorization. For the remainder of the trip, undertakers would frequently apply white chalk powder, rouge and amber makeup to make the President appear as normal as possible.

3. Did you know … that only one photograph is known to exist of President Lincoln lying in his open coffin? It was taken on Monday, April 24, 1865 in the rotunda of New York’s City Hall while the president’s body was prepared for public viewing. New York photographer Jeremiah Gurney, Jr. took several photographs of Lincoln while lying in state. The following day, after hearing about the existence of these photographs, a furious Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton ordered that all the plates, prints and engravings be destroyed. This order was carried out with the photographer’s cooperation. One print did escape this fate and was sent to Stanton himself. He kept it hidden in his papers for fear of rebuke by Mary Lincoln. In 1887, Stanton’s son Lewis, discovered it and sent it to John Nicolay believing that he, and John Hay, Lincoln’s former secretaries, would use it in their 10-volume life of Lincoln.  They did not. It remained out of the public eye until July 20, 1952 when a fourteen-year old boy named Ronald Rietveld, found it amongst John Nicolay-John Hay’s papers at the Illinois State Historical Library. 

Lincoln lies in state in NYC's City Hall on April 24, 1865

Sidebar: When Stanton found out about the photographs, he sent a telegram to Brigadier-General Townsend accompanying the President’s body on his final journey. Taken from the book “Lincoln: An Illustrated Biography” by Philip B. Kunhardt Jr., here are the series of telegrams that went back and forth between Stanton and Townsend regarding this incident. 


Washington City,

April 25, 1865 – 11:40 p.m.

Brigadier-General Townsend,

Adjutant-General, New York:

    I see by the New York papers this evening that a photograph of the corpse…was allowed to be taken yesterday in New York. I cannot sufficiently express my surprise and disapproval of such an act while the body was in your charge. You will report what officers of the funeral escort were or ought to have been on duty at the time this was done, and immediately relieve them…. You will also direct the provost-marshall to go to the photographer, seize and destroy the plates and any pictures or engravings that may have been made, and consider yourself responsible if the offense is repeated.

 Edwin M. Stanton

Secretary of War.




Albany, N.Y.

April 26, 1865

(Received 10:40 a.m.)

Hon. E. M. Stanton

Secretary of War:

    Your dispatch of this date is received. The photograph was taken when I was present…. I have telegraphed General Dix your orders about seizing the plates. To whom shall I turn over the special charge given me in order to execute your instructions to relieve the officer responsible…?

 E. D. Townsend,

Assistant Adjutant-General.





Washington City,

April 26, 1865 – 12:30 p.m.

Brig.Gen. E. D. Townsend,

 … You being in charge, and present at the time, the sole responsibility rests upon you; but having no other officer … that can relieve you and take your place you will continue in charge of the remains under your instructions until they are finally interred….

Edwin M. Stanton,

Secretary of War.




Albany, N.Y.

April 26, 1865

 Hon. E. M. Stanton

General Dix, who is here, suggests that I should explain to you how the photograph was taken. The remains had just been arranged in state in the City Hall, at the head of the stairway, where the people would ascend on one side and descend on the other…. The photographer was in a gallery twenty feet higher than the body, and at least forty distant from it. Admiral Davis stood at the head and I at the foot of the coffin. No-one else was in view. The effect of the picture would be general taking in the whole scene, but not giving the features of the corpse.

 E. D. Townsend





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)