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)