2017: FREE SHIPPING UNTIL END OF MAY ON SUPPLEMENTS 1, 2 & 3

January 09, 2017: Barry Cauchon

2011 Supplement#1 Cover (55kb)   2012 Supplement#2-r1 Cover (257kb)   2013 Supplement#3 Cover (120kb)

Hi all:

At the beginning of every year, I like to repeat an offer to my blog followers that I started in 2015. 2017 will be no different. It is in regards to the three printed supplements from A Peek Inside the Walls series that my research partner, John Elliott and I wrote and published. The offer is a simple one. When you order any or all of these three supplements, I will include FREE SHIPPING to anywhere in the continental United States. Shipping costs to Hawaii, Alaska, Canada, Mexico and other international locations can be quoted upon request. NY residents please add 8% sales tax.

This offer is valid now until the end of May (ending May 31, 2017).

Please include the promo code PEEK2017 in your email subject line so I know to apply the Free Shipping rate to your order.

See supplement descriptions and ordering instructions below.

Thank you and have a great 2017.

Best

Barry

barryssentials@hotmail.com

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SPECIAL PRICES

One supplement = US $8.50 (includes any one supplement of your choice) + FREE SHIPPING = Total US $8.50.

Two supplements = US $8.25 each (includes any two supplements of your choice) + FREE SHIPPING = Total US $16.50.

Three supplements = US $7.50 each (includes any three supplements of your choice) + FREE SHIPPING = Total US $22.50.

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SUPPLEMENT DESCRIPTIONS:

No. 1: 2011 Supplement

No. 1: 2011 Supplement

Released in March, 2011, A Peek Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators (maroon cover)(24 pages). This was our first published booklet in the “A Peek” series and was meant to compliment our 2011 live presentation given at the Surratt House Museum and Surratt Society Lincoln Assassination conference. It was a ‘supplement’ for that talk. Since then, each publication in this series has been called a supplement.

This supplement features a chapter called Who Gave the Signal to Spring the Traps? in which our research challenged a long-standing historical belief that the man dressed in white, seen standing on the scaffold in the Alexander Gardner conspirator execution photos, was Christian Rath, the executioner. After conducting a thorough photographic analysis of the evidence and an extensive review of many first-person eyewitness accounts and resources, this belief was proven to be inaccurate. Due to poorly made assumptions, early misidentifications and, in one case, blatant fraud, our research led us to the solid conclusion that accepted history on this subject was wrong. The man in white was NOT Christian Rath. If you are like us, you’ll find the trail of evidence to be fascinating and the conclusions credible.

When the content of this supplement was first presented to the public at the 2011 conference, renown Lincoln Assassination expert, Dr. Terry Alford, Professor of History at Northern Virginia Community College, was in attendance. After our presentation, Dr. Alford addressed the audience and offered the following statement: It’s very difficult to do anything original and you guys have done it.  I think you deserve the highest praise for it because it’s truly remarkable”.

The research in this supplement has continued to receive enthusiastic acclaim from the Lincoln Assassination Research Community and the public and has been written up in articles for the Surratt Society Courier and the Lincoln Herald (the oldest Lincoln-related publication in print today).

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No. 2: 2012 Supplement (revised Fall 2013)

No. 2: 2012 Supplement (revised and updated in Fall 2013)

In March, 2012, we published our second conference supplement called A Peek Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators. 13 Days Aboard the Monitors: The Early Incarceration of the Conspirators, the Mug Shot Photo Sessions and the Truth about the Hoods (blue cover)(28 pages). It’s a long title but this supplement is packed with great information featuring the facts, tales and plausible theories surrounding the early incarceration of the conspirators aboard the U.S.S. Saugus and U.S.S. Montauk prior to being sent to the Arsenal Penitentiary. This supplement was revised in the fall of 2013 when additional information came to light.

Part 1: The Early Incarceration of the Conspirators. For thirteen days in April of 1865, the Union Navy, under the direction of the War Department, became an unexpected participant in the story of the Lincoln conspirators. From April 17 to April 29, eight men suspected in the attacks on President Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward, were sent to the Washington Navy Yard for confinement aboard two ironclad monitors anchored offshore. Kept below decks under intolerable conditions, these prisoners were forced to wear iron restraints on their wrists and ankles, as well as hoods over their heads. They were interrogated and photographed, but mostly just left to sit in silence for endless hours of isolation to contemplate their fates.

Part 2: The Mug Shot Photo Sessions. Twenty-six famous, or infamous, ‘mug shot’ photographs of these prisoners were taken by Alexander Gardner during the prisoners’ time on the monitors. History has allowed many people to believe that all twenty-six images were shot during a single photo session on April 27. However, solid evidence, partnered with photographic analysis, suggests that multiple sessions were conducted. The results offer an intriguing and plausible alternative to the long-held ‘single photo session’ belief.

Part 3: The Truth about the Hoods. Much misinformation has been published about the hoods. In an attempt to clear up the confusion, this supplement offers a simple presentation of the facts concerning the following: 

•How many hood types were created?

•Who did, and did not, wear the hoods?

•When and where were each type worn?

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No. 3: 2013 Supplement

2013 Supplement

2013 Supplement

In August, 2013, we published our third supplement called A Peek Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators. The Mystery of John Wilkes Booth’s Autopsy Photo (sepia cover)(24 pages).

Often considered the Holy Grail of Lincoln assassination relics, John Wilkes Booth’s autopsy photo, presumed lost since 1865, has captivated the interest of countless researchers and historians, who believed that one day it would be found. Now, recently discovered evidence suggests that this prized photo may never have existed at all.

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PURCHASE INFORMATION

To purchase any of these supplements, please contact me by email at barryssentials@hotmail.com and indicate which supplement(s) and the quantity of each you wish to have. Also, please include your shipping address. Remember to add the promo code PEEK2017 for free shipping.

If you would like me to sign the supplements I am happy to do so…just ask. At present, John is unable to sign these as he resides in San Antonio, TX. These supplements ship from Corning, NY.

PAYMENT: Upon receiving your email, I will send you a confirmation quotation with payment options. I accept PayPal, checks, money orders or bank drafts. Please include your shipping address and indicate which payment method you wish to use so I can be on the look out for it.

All supplements are mailed from Corning, NY by USPS (United States Postal Services).

AVAILABILITY:  All three supplements are presently available. If the inventory becomes depleted, I will reprint as required. I will let you know prior to your payment of any delays you may be facing.

Thank you for considering A Peek Inside the Walls.  If you have any questions, please email me at barryssentials@hotmail.com. I’ll be happy to help assist you.

Best

Barry

barryssentials@hotmail.com

barry-roger-05jun16

ABOUT BARRY & JOHN – Barry Cauchon and John Elliott have been active members in the Lincoln Assassination research community since 2009 and specialize in the incarceration and punishments of the Lincoln Conspirators. Their research has been published in the Lincoln Herald, Surratt Society Courier and are credited in numerous assassination-related books. Both have presented their work at several Surratt Society Lincoln Assassination annual conferences and have advised on film and documentary projects such as Robert Redford’s “The Conspirator” (2010) and National Geographic’s “Killing Lincoln” (2013). John and Barry have jointly written and published three supplements (booklets) under the series name “A Peek Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators”.

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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

YOU CAN’T KEEP A GOOD TEAM DOWN

December 06, 2013

by Barry Cauchon

Hi all: In August of this year, John Elliott and I formally dissolved our writing partnership due to time constraints and work commitments. We had enjoyed a wonderful four-year run of research and writing escapades that resulted in three self-published booklets (we call them supplements) written under the A Peek Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators series. The Surratt House Museum gift shop sells them individually or as a ‘three-pack’ if you are interested in purchasing them (http://www.surrattmuseum.org/su_gift.html). The booklist on the site isn’t quite up-to-date so call the gift shop directly at (301) 868-1121 and the nice folks there can help you.

2011 Supplement#1 Cover (55kb)     2012 Supplement#2-r1 Cover (257kb)     2013 Supplement#3 Cover (120kb)

Getting back to our partnership dissolution, the one thing that didn’t end was our friendship and the desire to share what we’ve discovered. So, being that you can’t always keep a good team down, John and I have decided that we will do another supplement (our fourth). It is currently in the works and will feature the Lincoln conspirators’ trial room (recently restored at Fort McNair in Washington D.C.). The release of this supplement is planned for March, 2014. John is writing the piece and I will handle the images, illustrations and design layouts. We look forward to sharing this with you in the very near future.

Have a wonderful holiday season.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

ANNOUNCEMENT

August 26, 2013

by Barry Cauchon

Hi all: John Elliot and I have been research partners for four years. We’ve developed a great friendship and thoroughly enjoyed working together making discoveries and sharing them with you. Our main goal for partnering was to produce a book about the incarceration and punishments of the Lincoln conspirators called “Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators”. Due to heavy work schedules, for the most part, the book was just not getting done. So we have decided to make a change that will allow for the project to come to fruition. The following announcement will explain the details. John will post the same on his Facebook page “Inside the Walls”.

With warm regards

Barry

ANNOUNCEMENT

After several years of enjoying a successful research venture together, John and Barry have agreed to dissolve their partnership and pursue individual interests. Largely due to Barry’s work schedule, the goal of writing and publishing Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators became a difficult task to manage. 

After a short period of discussion, the two mutually agreed on a plan. Moving forward John will take complete ownership of the book Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators, writing it himself. Barry will concentrate on writing and publishing smaller independent supplements as time permits.

John will also take full ownership of the name Inside the Walls, the Facebook page and the website (currently under construction). 

John and Barry will continue to share their common interests, maintain their friendship, and look forward to ongoing associations with the research community, which has been so kind and welcoming. Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to all of you for having supported our mutual endeavors. 

Kind Regards, 

Barry Cauchon & John Elliott

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outreach@awesometalks.com

Killing Lincoln: a National Geographic two-hour documentary – Fact or Fiction?

February 20, 2013:

by Barry Cauchon

KILLING LINCOLN was aired for the first time on February 17, 2013 on the National Geographic channel. Earlier this summer, several members of the Lincoln Assassination research community were contacted and asked to assist with research for the project. Erik Jendresen (Band of Brothers), the producer/writer for the documentary was very interested in getting the story as accurate as possible.

I spoke with Erik a couple of times during his research and filled him in on my area of expertise which is the incarceration and punishments of the Lincoln Conspirators. My research and writing partner John Elliott also had several conversations with him on the same subjects. During the vetting process we were asked to proof read the script and comment on areas where the facts were not always firm…which we did.  All went well and about eight months later, if you watched the documentary, you saw the end result.

Since the documentary aired, we have been asked how authentic the content was. Was it accurately depicted? Generally speaking, it was really good. One can always point out where the director might have taken artistic licence to move the story along or where he was forced to cut out an important part due to broadcast time restraints, but all in all, it was a fair represenation of the accepted storyline.

Right now, I’m sure some of you are probably asking yourself why my answer isn’t a direct yes or no response. Was the documentary accurate or was it not? The truth is that the answer is not straightforward. Much of history is not as factual as one would like. Most can be attributed to assumptions, half truths and more often than not, some good guesses. Incorrect versions of historical events printed long ago have been repeated so often that they eventually become accepted history. In our area of research, John and I have uncovered many accepted ‘facts’ that are at best, plausible theories. There are usually not enough facts to justify these accounts as being 100% true. And in a couple of cases, we have discovered evidence of pure fraud that became accepted fact which ending up in all the history books as ‘the real deal’. Sadly, they are bogus.

It is extremely difficult to ‘unteach’ an accepted point of view, especially when it has been repeated and accepted for so long.

Another reason why history isn’t always a solid ‘fact or fiction’ decision is because many historians and researchers can’t agree on what the actual truth is, often resulting in even more confusion as different theories are toted and sold as the ‘one and only’ truth.

When a huge two-hour documentary like Killing Lincoln appears on National Geographic, people sit up and listen. National Geographic carries a lot of clout. When I was involved with the King Tut exhibit several years ago, NatGeo was a partner in the project. Their name goes a long way.

As a researcher who was asked to comment on some of the content for Killing Lincoln , I hoped the ‘truth’ (as I saw it) would be presented. In some cases, it was. In other cases, the opinions of others won out. And sometimes, when the gap between historical versions was too far apart to trust, the production seemed to resort to presenting their own carefully considered interpretations.

So in the end, was the story accurate? In two words…..basically, yes. It was based on years of collective research from some of the most knowledgeable people in the business. It may not have been the whole truth, but Killing Lincoln gave the viewer a great starting point to begin doing their own research in hopes of finding the missing pieces.

I’m proud to have been asked to do my small part for the production and I hope that my input helped in some way. As a reward, National Geographic posted my name under ‘Special Thanks’ in the end credits. I didn’t ask for this so it meant a lot. It is my first National Geographic documentary creditation. Let’s hope that it is not my last. LOL.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

THE CONSPIRATOR: A Film Review from a Researcher’s Point of View

April 11, 2011: Barry Cauchon

Robert Redford’s film “The Conspirator” hits theaters this Friday, April 15. The producers of the film (American Film Co.) were kind enough to allow me to visit the set for a couple of days in November 2009. I later had a chance to view the film at the World Premiere showing at the Toronto Film Festival. I posted a review of the film on September 18, 2010 on this blog and later published it in the spring edition of the Lincoln Herald. I am posting that review again here today.

I encourage you to see the film. For those of you who believe it is the story of Mary Surratt, the lone woman indicted with seven other defendants for their involvement in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, it is only partially that. This is the story of one of Mrs. Surratt’s lawyers, Frederick Aiken and his battle with the very one-sided military commission that tried her. Whether Mary Surratt was guilty or innocent is not resolved here and the debate goes on between researchers and historians as to the level of her involvement in the crime. In the end, Mary Surratt was found guilty and received the sentence of death which was carried out by hanging on July 7, 1865.

Best

Barry

September 18, 2010: Barry Cauchon

Last week on September 11, I attended the world premiere of Robert Redford’s The Conspirator at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film tells the little-known story of the unjust military trial of Mary Surratt, one of eight people put on trial for conspiring to assassinate Abraham Lincoln and other members of his cabinet.

Attending the gala was director Robert Redford, writer Jim Solomon and actors Robin Wright (Mary Surratt), James McAvoy (Frederick Aiken), Kevin Kline (Edwin Stanton), Justin Long (Nicholas Baker, Aiken’s life-long friend), Alexis Bledel (Sarah Weston, Aiken’s fiancee) and James Badge Dale (William Hamilton, another friend of Aiken).

I am not a movie critic so I won’t be writing this article with that as my motive. For this story, I am wearing two hats; one as a researcher who knows the subject matter and the other is to share my personal impressions of the film!

Rather than reviewing all the specifics of the film, I will direct you to any one of the 80+ online reviews of the film. Here is what one reporter wrote (Kirk Honeycutt: The Hollywood Reporter)

“So the film, seeking a distributor here, is very much a tough sell. It’s an admirable film, mixing history few people know with several real-life personalities well worth knowing. Unfortunately, viewers for such fare are older and less prone to line up on a first weekend. A distributor will need to roll this film out incrementally, looking for feature stories, reviews and word-of-mouth to entice history buffs and the curious into adult venues”.

Kirk Honeycutt makes a couple of factual mistakes in his report but the gist is fairly accurate. Here is the link to his story. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/film-reviews/conspirator-film-review-1004114044.story?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+thr/reviews/allreviews+(The+Hollywood+Reporter+-+All+Reviews)

According to Kurt Graver of The American Film Company, Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions has signed on as the distributor for the film and will release it sometime in the spring of 2011. http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/about/news/.

Generally speaking, the portrayal is factual, but there are parts that take bold stances where history may not fully support them, so I can imagine that some great debates will result. Here are three that will make you either clap or cringe!

— In her first scene, Mary Surratt is incarcerated in chains, forced to wear a 75-pound ball and chain on her ankles and a pair of Lilly Irons on her wrists. CRINGE…BUT VERY LIKELY. Senior officers and her own legal council (Clampitt) stated that Mary Surratt was never chained, restrained or manacled (except during her execution). However, numerous reports from newspapers and eyewitnesses in the very early days of her trial all state seeing Mrs. Surratt wearing ankle chains and/or Lilly Irons on her wrists. Interesting!

— Some factions of the Roman Catholic Church, sympathetic to the Confederate cause, have a communication pipeline between Mary Surratt and her son, John, who is in hiding in Quebec, Canada. Mary’s own priest, Father Walter, is part of that conduit. CRINGE…BUT PLAUSIBLE! The country was split with allegiances during the Civil War and the Roman Catholic Church certainly had parishioners from both Union and Confederate families. What proof is available about this scenario is not known to me, but I find the idea very intriguing. (Interesting Fact: During the spring/summer of 1865, while escaping to Montreal, Quebec, John Surratt was taken in and hidden by Father Charles Boucher and than later by Father LaPierre, both Roman Catholic priests).

— After the military commission finds all eight conspirators guilty, the commission privately votes to give death sentences to Lewis Payne, David Herold and George Atzerodt. When it’s time to vote on the punishment for Mary Surratt, the vote for death is taken and a non-majority of only 3 or 4 hands out of nine are raised, resulting in a life sentence. (Note: a two-thirds majority or 6 out of 9 votes were needed for execution). Judge Holt reports the results to Edwin Stanton who states “Well, I guess we’ll just have to change their minds”. CRINGE, BUT AGAIN INTERESTING THEORY! There are no known reports on how the commission voted behind closed doors. Originally, Mary’s sentence was death. But five of the voting commission members wrote a letter to President Johnson asking for her sentence to be commuted to life. The film may misrepresent the facts a little bit but allows for this very interesting position to be tabled about whether Stanton had influence on the commission’s findings or not.

THE FILM OVERALL

The opening fifteen minutes of the film are quite engaging and successfully set the stage with just enough detail to bring the uneducated viewer up to speed quickly. Frederick Aiken as the wounded war hero and lawyer, the assassination of Lincoln, Edwin Stanton’s power and control, the other acts of conspiracy against Seward and VP Johnson, Booth’s capture/death and the rounding up of the conspirators and their imprisonment.

At this point, my hopes are pretty high considering how well this complex part of the story has been simplified and told. The feel and mood are also dead on.

The next hour and a half moves into the courtroom and trial scenes. I’m sure it is very difficult to create a film and display high emotion when the majority of it is in a darkened and sullen courtroom, listening to exchanges and eyewitness accounts. So was the case here. Being that I was familiar with the subject matter, there were many details that I personally found interesting. For someone new to this story, the information may be a lot to take in and understand.

During the trial sequence, there are intermittent flashbacks and scenes shot outside of the courtroom. This helps to break up the trial and add details where needed. Still, some attendees at the premiere commented that the trial made the movie feel ‘flat, drawn out and stagnant on an emotional level’. Very few highs or lows in emotion are expressed during the trial other than the occasional heated exchange. It did seem to drag several times and become repetitive when the issue was made about the military commission being biased and focusing solely on getting guilty verdicts. “Okay, we got it after the first couple of times this point was made”. But the film repeats the action several more times to ensure it is not missed.

Two witnesses are used (Louis Weichmann and John Lloyd) and they do a good job in burying Mary’s chances of getting out of her situation.

Despite Mary’s objections, Aiken tries to make the trial about John Surratt so that he can shift the blame away from his client. From start to finish, Aiken does not accept Mary’s innocence (which was an interesting way to approach it). But he begins to fight for her when he sees how biased the commission is and railroading her and the others to a quick guilty verdict. With the law and constitution blatantly being ignored by the commission, he takes up her fight if only to prove that the law can’t be manipulated as the commission sees fit.

After almost 1-1/2 hours of courtroom drama, the commission adjourns.

The most exciting part of the movie could have been the last 10-15 minutes. The vote on Mary’s sentence is taken; Aiken races to get the Writ of Habeas Corpus, success and then failure when it is overturned, and the final march to the gallows. All this is covered in the last few minutes but it is rushed and appears as if the film makers ran out of time. What a shame because this really could have brought life back to the film after the slower-paced courtroom scenes.

The kicker for me is the scene where Aiken has just gotten the writ on the morning of the execution and is now in Mary’s cell with Father Walter and Anna. Aiken is telling them that the writ will get her a new trial and that she is safe for now. Aiken glances out the window and notices that the scaffold still has four nooses, not three. At that moment, General Hartranft walks into the cell and informs Mary that she must come along with him to prepare for her execution. Aiken argues that he’s just obtained the writ from Judge Wylie but is then told by Hartranft that it has been suspended by the President so Mary must hang! It is the perfect moment for some serious drama (strong music, volatile conversation, some genuine emotion). There is so little of it that the ending is almost anti-climactic. Within the next three minutes of film, Mary is marched to the gallows and hanged. I was left with the feeling of “What happened”! She’s given the bum’s rush out the door, led down row of Federal soldiers, up onto the gallows and executed. A lot more could have been done to save this part of the film and make it a more attractive film to general movie goers. As I said earlier, I’m not a movie critic and have come at this from someone educated in the subject matter. So I am probably showing my own bias here. In any case, in my opinion, more could have been done with the film’s finale.

THE PERFORMANCES

A lot has been mentioned about the choice to hire Robin Wright to play Mary Surratt. I personally think she did a great job on the character. Wright portrays Mary as a devoted, unwavering mother, stoically facing her impending fate. She is assisted in interpreting the character by a great make up department, who gives Wright that familiar worn look and feel of Mary. Her youthful beauty is transformed into the comely, mother figure we have grown to know from the few photographs available.

James McAvoy plays Frederick Aiken, Mary Surratt’s reluctant lawyer. McAvoy plays the character of a strong war hero who truly believes Mary Surratt is guilty of the charges against her (and never really moves from that position). However, as the military commission manipulates the court proceedings to make the trial as one-sided as possible for the prosecution, he begins to fight the injustice of it and, in doing so, almost helps to save her life in the end. Although I am not a Frederick Aiken researcher, the historical character presented seems very plausible on many levels.

Kevin Kline plays Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. Although the character of Stanton is presented as a fear monger and one-man despot, Kline does a great job with him. Researchers will either cringed at, or give praise to, some of the things Stanton does in this movie (depending on how you view him in history).

But for me, the actor who really steals the show has to be Tom Wilkinson as Reverdy Johnson. He is outstanding, playing Mary Surratt’s first lawyer who, after getting into a heated debate with the military commission over the constitutional legitimacy of the trial, removes himself in place of the younger, inexperienced Aiken. Mr. Wilkinson shows his talents in this film and gratefully appears throughout from start to finish.

AND SPEAKING OF PERFORMANCES…

Last November, John Elliott and I were invited down to the set of The Conspirator while filming in Savannah, GA. I attended the execution sequences and John attended the trial filming. Both of us played extras as Union soldiers. I am happy to say that John made it to the big screen and can easily be seen escorting Jonathan Groff (who plays Louis Weichmann) to the stand for the first time. Congrats John on your movie debut.

Jonathan Groff (Louis Weichmann) with John Elliott       Norman Reedus (Lewis Powell) with Barry Cauchon

 [Left photo: Jonathan Groff (Louis Weichmann) and John Elliott. Right photo: Norman Reedus (Lewis Powell) and Barry Cauchon. Nov-Dec, 2009]

For me, I am buried somewhere in the background during the hanging sequence. If I am there (and not on the cutting room floor) it will take a microscopic forensic examination of the film to find myself. But hey, that is what I do! LOL. I’ve had my 15 minutes of fame years ago when I was an extra in a film called “Murder at 1600”. I made it onto the big screen as a uniformed secret service agent. Ah, those were the days! Congratulations to you John. (By the way, I can see myself in the photo used at the beginning of this article….time to play Where’s Waldo).

Finally, I think if you have a working knowledge of this story you will get much more out of the film than if you are new to the subject. In any case, the film is sure to get people wondering about the ‘real story’ of the aftermath of the assassination and that is always a great thing for us in the research community. We love sharing our knowledge with you.

So after saying all this, what did I think of the film? I liked it a lot. Don’t let my disappointment in the ending sway you. As always, I want to see MORE rather than less. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the film when you get your chance to see it.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

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

500,000 HITS … WOW … My readers are AWESOME!

January 29, 2011: Barry Cauchon

My good friends Ed and Mary Beth Isaacs have been tracking the progress of my blog hit counter over the past few days as they anxiously waited for it to reach the 500,000 hit mark. Because I have been so busy at work, I haven’t been able to keep an eye on it myself and they were gracious enough to offer. I can’t thank them enough.  At 8:59 p.m. last night on Friday, January 28, 2011, the momentous occasion occurred.

Half a million people have clicked their mouses at least once on this blog since May of  2008 and all I can say is “Wow. I’m touched. I’m amazed. I’m humbled.

For those of you who personally know me, you will understand that I speak from the heart when I say, “I really am overwhelmed”! I started writing this little blog about three years ago just to share my love of history with others. I had no motive other than to see if I could connect with similar-minded individuals and students who were interested in the same subjects as I. I had no idea where this would take me. Yes folks, this is the “feel good” story of the year, so read on…lol.

In the course of this blog’s life, I have met researchers, writers, scholars, historians, museum curators, war veterans, authors, film makers, directors, actors, legislators, politicians, history buffs, teachers and students… just to name a few. However, I have also met, and have been befriended by, many wonderful people just wanting to offer their personal family stories to me. Some have become good friends. My life has been enriched by them and the experiences they’ve allowed me to share in. Their persistent and unfaltering encouragement has also kept me moving forward on my projects when there were days I felt like I didn’t have anything left to give. For that, I am truly blessed.

This year, two important things will occur for me. John Elliott (my writing partner) and I will complete and publish our book on the Arsenal Penitentiary called “Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators. As well, we will present our work publicly for the first time to our peers and conference attendees at the Surratt Society 12th Annual Assassination Conference in March. I will meet many of my new-found friends at the conference (some of whom I’ve never had the pleasure to meet in person). I am truly looking forward to it.

After those two milestones are met, I have other goals that I hope to begin working on in the latter half of 2011.

The first will be to get back to posting new articles on this blog. As many of you have noticed, 2010 and 2011 really saw a decline in my output. That is because writing a book, and working for a living, took a lot of my limited time. So expect to see new articles, and perhaps, even a change in how I present the work, sometime after March when things should start to free up a bit. I may even refresh the look of the blog…just thinking out loud here.

The second will be to start working with students and educational institutions again. I love speaking to students and sharing historically based information that is not always found in the curriculum. This year I want to visit more schools and meet more students and their teachers. I suppose it is my way of ‘giving back’ but I also enjoy the experience very much. Education is very important to me. If I can play a small part in helping even one student succeed, then I plan to make that a priority in my goals of the future.

Again, thank you all for your support and friendship. I look forward to moving ahead in the coming months and sharing more interesting history with you.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

Inside the Walls (ITW) Book Update issued (Oct 11, 2010)

October 12, 2010: Barry Cauchon

Hi all: This is just a quick note to everyone who signed up for our ITW Book Update. Yesterday, we issued the update by email from outreach@awesometalks.com with the PDF attachment. It was sent out to everyone who had signed up for our Update Mailing List. Some emails were rejected as they are outdated or no longer valid. If you did not receive this mailing or wish to be added to our mailing list, please send me a quick note at outreach@awesometalks.com with BOOK in the subject title and I’ll send the update to you as soon as possible.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

Inside the Walls Book Update Announcement

October 7:  Barry Cauchon.

By Monday, October 11, John Elliott and I will be emailing out a long awaited update on our book called Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators. Over the past year, many of my great followers from here, and from our Facebook page, have signed up for these updates. We have collected quite a large list and are now ready to share our progress with you. 

There is a lot of new stuff to report. Least of which is that John has created a new website (yet to be built) dedicated to Inside the Walls. We both have new email addresses which we will share with you in the update letter. My current blog email at outreach@awesometalks.com will still remain active however. 

It has been a few months since our last update so you haven’t missed anything recently. These detailed updates are only shared with those who have requested them by email. If you are not on our ITW Book Update List and wish to receive updates, please send an email at outreach@awesometalks.com with “BOOK” in the subject line. Leave your email address, and name if you like, and I’ll be sure to include you. This list is strictly used for our own purposes and will not be shared with others.

If you believe you are already on the list but don’t receive the update by October 11, please write me again so I can forward it to you.

John and I are both humbled and grateful for the tremendous interest shown in our book. As well, we cannot begin to thank the numerous members of the Lincoln Research Community who have shared parts of their own research and knowledge with us. Their encouragement and involvement with this project have been nothing short of amazing. They have given us the material needed to bring the content of our book to a level we never imagined a year ago. I can assure you that our dedication page will be a lengthy one.

We look forward to updating you.

Have a great day.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

An Awesometalk With STEVEN G. MILLER, expert on the hunt for John Wilkes Booth

August 01, 2010: Barry Cauchon

Steven G. Miller, expert on the hunt for John Wilkes Booth

An Awesometalk With Steven G. Miller

Duration: 42:28

Steven G. Miller knows more about the hunt for John Wilkes Booth and the men who participated in it than most people in the world. He has been researching the subject for thirty years. However, if you try to call him an expert in the subject he frowns upon the title. There is just too much more to learn so an expert, he says, he is not!

Despite Steven’s objections, many of us believe that he is an expert and the best person to talk to regarding the hunt for John Wilkes Booth and what really happened in his final hours.

Steven is a gifted researcher, writer and historian. He has written numerous articles for magazines and periodicals and has one unpublished book about the eyewitness accounts taken from the Garrett farm the night John Wilkes Booth was captured and killed..

I’ve known Steve for about two years and he always has something amazing to share. He’s also a pretty humorous guy with a really dry wit.

Steve will be speaking for the sixth time at the Surratt Society Assassination Conference in Clinton, MD next March 19, 2011. For more details, go to the Surratt Society website at: www.surratt.org.

Enjoy.

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

“An Awesometalk With” BETTY OWNSBEY, author of Alias Paine, the Lewis Powell biography

May 02, 2010: Barry Cauchon

LINK TO INTERVIEW: An Awesometalk With Betty Ownsbey 08-Mar-10

Running Time: 35:00

I am really pleased to present my interview with Betty Ownsbey, historian, researcher and author of ‘Alias Paine’, the biography of Lewis Powell, Lincoln assassination conspirator who was tried, found guilty and hanged on July 7, 1865.

Betty lives in Richmond, Virginia. I grew up in nearby Hampton, so I feel a connection to Betty as a fellow Viriginian. I found her to be charming, witty and passionate about the Lincoln assassination.  She is full of life and you will get pumped up just listening to her.

Our interview covered the following subjects:

  • Frustrations in research
  • The discovery of the Hartranft Letterbook
  • Lewis Powell, his family and history
  • Sharing and living history
  • Horses and the Civil War riding style and how it affected John Wilkes Booth escape from Ford’s Theatre

The red roan is the type of horse that David Herold rode during his escape with John Wilkes Booth. Herold's horse's name was Charlie.

  • Lewis Powell’s skull
  • Penny Dreadfuls

I hope you enjoy the interview.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

STATE YOUR CASE (No. 2): How did John Wilkes Booth Break his Leg?

April 26, 2010: Barry Cauchon

Subject: How did John Wilkes Booth Break his Leg?

Author: Mr. John Elliott

Proposition: The story of John Wilkes Booth and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln is known to most Americans. However, there is one aspect of the story that is not as clear cut as some might believe. How did John Wilkes Booth break his leg (fibula bone) during his escape from Ford’s Theatre after shooting President Lincoln? Some of the most respected Lincoln assassination researchers and authors sit on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to this question.

The more common belief is that Booth broke his leg after jumping from the Lincolns’ box and landing awkwardly on the stage below. However, a second theory, which is not new, is that Booth’s injury occurred in a horse accident sometime during his escape that night. According to this theory, Booth’s horse fell on him.

John Elliott, Lincoln assassination researcher, will present his reasons why he believes that the latter theory, the horse accident, is the correct one.

Please review Mr. Elliott’s material by clicking on the RED link below. When finished, please offer your critique in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Note: If you are on the main page of the blog, the comment section is not there. Click on the headline for this posting and it will take you to that page where the comment section is.

———————-

ANALYSIS: How Did Booth Break His Leg (John Elliott)

———————-

DISCLAIMER: A Little Touch of History does not endorse or challenge the validity of the content presented here. The theories are published here solely for the purpose of giving aspiring researchers a place to present. I will not be taking sides or giving any personal comments publicly on their subjects. The authors have confirmed that the work is their own, and in publishing it here, take sole responsibility for any claims made.

———————-

Thank you.

Best

Barry

 

Published in: on Sunday, April 25, 2010 at '8:40 am'  Comments (1)  
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UPCOMING POSTINGS FOR ‘A LITTLE TOUCH OF HISTORY’

April 25, 2010: Barry Cauchon

Here is my proposed schedule for the next few weeks on “A Little Touch of History”.  Enjoy.

  • April 26 to 30STATE YOUR CASE (No. 2) – John Elliott: “When did Booth break his leg”?
  • May 1 — May birthdays for Lincoln Friends and Foes
  • May 2 to 8AN AWESOMETALK WITH Betty Ownsbey, author “Alias Paine”, the Lewis Powell biography 
  • May 9 — Open
  • May 10 to 14STATE YOUR CASE (No. 3) – Angela Smythe “Has He Been Hiding in Plain Sight? John Wilkes Booth and the Richmond Grays”
  • May 15 — Open
  • May 16 to 22AN AWESOMETALK WITH G.C. Rivera, the Unique and Surprising Mr. P.

Note: Schedule may change without notice.

On a separate note, I had planned to interview Gloria Swift, the museum curator at Ford’s Theatre. However, Laurie Verge has informed me that Gloria has now taken a position with Fort Pulaski in Savannah, Georgia. I met Gloria back in March and she is a wonderful person. I truly wish her well in her new posting at Fort Pulaski.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

GREAT UPCOMING INTERVIEWS FOR 2010 “AN AWESOMETALK WITH”

March 15, 2010: Barry Cauchon.

Hi all: I am pleased to announce a partial list of upcoming interviews planned for my 2010 series “An Awesometalk With”. Last year featured some wonderful interviews and this year will be no exception. Here are just a few of the folks who have agreed to share their thoughts with you on “An Awesometalk With”.

STEVEN G. MILLER, historian & Boston Corbett expert: Steven is considered to be one of the top experts in the world on the 16th New York Regiment and Sergeant Boston Corbett, the man who shot John Wilkes Booth. Steven’s interview was done some time ago but I only recently completed transcribing it (sorry for the delay Steve). Look for it here very soon. It has some great content and stories (interview completed, edited and awaiting approval).

MIKE KAUFFMAN, historian and author of American Brutus: Mike is one of the foremost Lincoln assassination experts in the world authoring numerous articles on the subject. He is most well-known work is American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies. Within Lincoln assassination research circles, Mike is highly respected for his research capabilities and being able to find historical information that escape many of us. Mike will share his insights into how to research an old story in new ways and the many angles one can take to find new material.

LAURIE VERGE, Director, Surratt House Museum: Laurie has been the Director of the Surratt House Museum in Clinton, MD since 1983. Anyone who has ever studied the assassination of Abraham Lincoln (from students, authors, film makers and scholars) knows Laurie, and has probably been helped by her at some point over the years. Laurie is a true matchmaker, directing the folks ‘with questions’ to the people who have ‘the answers’. She has been a tremendous supporter of mine and I’m very excited about introducing Laurie to you soon.

GLORIA SWIFT, Museum Curator, Ford’s Theatre, Washington D.C.: When Gloria phoned me recently and we had a chance to talk, I realized then that we had very similar approaches to history. Gloria has been an interpretive park ranger and curator with the National Park Service, working at such sites as Gettysburg National Military Park, Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park, and Monocacy National Battlefield. Currently she is the Museum Curator at Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site.

DR. EDWARD STEERS, JR., historian and author: Ed Steers is one of the most respected giants in the field of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, authoring ten books on the subject. But Mr. Steers’ interest in history goes beyond the assassination. He is fascinated with WWII and has just released his second WWII book, this one called “We’ll Meet Again: A Story of Love and Intrigue in the Midst of War”. He also has a keen interest in some of the great hoaxes perpetrated on the world, including the highly publicized Hitler Diaries (interview posted March 15, 2010).

BETTY J. OWNSBEY, biographer and expert on Lewis Powell, Lincoln assassination conspirator: Betty is the author of “Alias Paine”, the biography of Lewis Powell. She tells me that she loves talking up a storm on Powell and the assassination, as well as on British and American history. I also know that, like me, she is a fan of banjo music and has a collection of old and traditional recordings. Betty has been a huge supporter of the book that John Elliott and I are writing and her submissions and knowledge base have been immeasurable (interview completed and currently being edited).

JOHN ELLIOTT, my writing partner and expert on the Old Arsenal Penitentiary architectural history: I can truly pat myself on my own back when I think about how lucky I was in choosing John to partner with to write our book on the conspirators and what happened to them inside the walls of the Old Arsenal Penitentiary. John is an encyclopedia on the assassination and all the peripheral history that surrounds the event. Like me, his real interest in the assassination started as a young student, when he took his first trip to Ford’s Theatre and the Peterson House in Washington. It was the event that started both of our life-long interests in the Lincoln assassination and the happenings at the Old Arsenal Penitentiary.

So not a bad starting point for 2010. And there are more interviews to come. I just wanted to share the names of the experts who have already agreed to chat with me. I’m sure you will enjoy them all as each gets a chance to share their unique backgrounds and interests.

Best.

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com




HINDENBURG & OTHER AIRSHIP WEBSITE

February 7, 2010: Barry Cauchon

Thank you to all of you who have visited my blog over the last couple of years. As those of you following my work know, I am currently in the middle of writing a book with my writing partner John Elliott as well as possibly turning it into a documentary. When things happen fast, you need to go with the flow. So due to this, my blog output has ground to a crawl and for that I apologize.

However, when I find something that is historically interesting, or those that have great information find me, I like to pass it along to you as fast as I can. Case in point is a website about the Hindenburg and the other great airships of the 20’s and 30’s.

The site is run by Dan Grossman out of Atlanta, Georgia and he wrote the following note to me regarding an article I authored called “D-LZ 129 HINDENBURG . . . JUST THE FACTS, MA’AM”!”.

“Barry. You have done a great job of presenting the basic facts about the  Hindenburg for people who want a short, accurate summary. But for readers who want more information (photos, deck plans, flight schedules, flight operations, etc.), would you be willing to post a link to: http://www.airships.net/hindenburg at the end of your posting, for people who might not read all the comments?

Dan Grossman, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Website: http://www.airships.net

Twitter: http://twitter.com/airships

Blog: http://feeds.feedburner.com/Airships

As the Hindenburg and the other great airships are not my specialty, but still hold wonderful historical interest for me, I recommend Dan’s website for those wanting to know much more about this subject.

Dan, thanks for your kind words and offers of assistance.

Keep up the great work.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

Published in: on Sunday, February 7, 2010 at '9:35 pm'  Comments (3)  
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INSIDE THE WALLS on Facebook

December 12, 2009: Barry Cauchon:

Join us at INSIDE THE WALLS on Facebook!!!

My writing partner John Elliott and I are producing a book (and possibly a documentary)on the Lincoln conspirators and their experiences inside the walls of the various prisons (in particular, the Old Arsenal Penitentiary) where they were held before, during and after their trial.  As you know, some of the conspirators were hanged almost immediately after the trial ended while others were sent away to Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas (off the Florida Keys) to serve out their sentences. Our book will not only cover these elements of the story but also include the forensic study of the ten Alexander Gardner photos that were taken of the executions on July 7, 1865. Plus much much more.

We wanted to let you know that we have now set up a page on Facebook called INSIDE THE WALLS which we encourage you to join as fans. It will allow you to keep up to date on what is happening with our project(s), ask questions or join into our Discussion Board.

Just sign into Facebook and then search for Inside the Walls. When you get there, join up as a FAN and you are in. We look forward to seeing you there.

Note, as some folks are not comfortable being on Facebook but still want to be kept informed of our progress, please send me an email at outreach@awesometalks.com with your name and email address. In the subject line write the word BOOK and I will add you to this update list.

We look forward to seeing you on INSIDE THE WALLS  and talking to you about the Lincoln conspiracy. We want to hear what you have to say so please tell us your thoughts and ask any questions you may have. If we don’t know the answer, we’ll do our best to find out as soon as possible.

Thank you.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

Published in: on Saturday, December 12, 2009 at '6:08 pm'  Leave a Comment  
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MR. P’s PHOTOGRAPH IS AN ORIGINAL!!!!

November 22, 2009: Barry Cauchon

Hi all: On Friday, November 19, I had the honor to Mr. Harold Holzer at his office in NYC. We have corresponded and spoken on the phone for over a year and it was great to finally meet him face-to-face. Although the main reason for our meeting is not the subject of this posting, we resolved a puzzle that has been on my mind for over a year. As some of my dedicated readers may remember, in August of 2008, I posted a photograph on my blog from a person I referred to as Mr. P. 

Mr. P. owns a photograph in a Victorian frame which he believed was one of Lincoln in death. I posted it on the blog asking anyone who might want to comment on it. In less than a week, I received an email from Harold Holzer stating that the photograph was not one of Lincoln in death. Instead it was an existing image considered to be a fake or spurious one. It had been previously published in books in the early 1960’s. And that was that. I published Mr. Holzer’s findings on August 21, 2008 and informed Mr. P. about the results.  But we still wondered about the Victorian framed photograph and how Mr. P’s family came to have this piece. Who was this man? What type of photographic process was used? Was it a printed copy or an original? We just didn’t know and didn’t dare open it without help.

We zip ahead to last week. A lot has changed in one year. Mr. P. is now one of my closest friends. I’ve partnered with John Elliott to be my writing partner and are moving ahead with our book and other projects. So we all meet in NYC and descend upon the office of Harold Holzer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. After our scheduled meeting with Mr. Holzer, Mr. P. brought out the photograph and we asked if Mr. Holzer would look at it. Since it was this photo that brought all of us together, we thought it was appropriate to have him be the one to look at it.

Yours truly, Abe, Harold Holzer and John Elliott

Yours truly, Abe, Harold Holzer and John Elliott

Upon inspection, Mr. Holzer opened the frame to expose the photograph. Once apart, we observed that the image was printed on a glass plate. Mr. Holzer indicated that it was an Ambrotype which was a photographic process used in the early 1800s. And as this was an Ambrotype it meant that the photograph was an original and not a reproduction. AMAZING! This photo, which has been published in numerous Lincoln books, is the original Ambrotype from which these reproduced photos were made.

We were all very excited about the confirmation. Thank you Mr. Holzer for a great meeting and the photographic identification. So even though the image is not that of Abraham Lincoln in death and is considered a fake, at least now we know that Mr. P. owns the original fake.

By the way, Mr. P. indicates that bidding can begin at $2,000,000.    : )

Below is part of the original article that was written over a year ago that started this whole train moving down the track.

HAROLD HOLZER COMMENTS ON “LINCOLN IN DEATH” PICTURES

August 21, 2008 – Barry Cauchon:

Hi all: My blog has had a flurry of activity recently concerning several articles that I had posted on questionable Lincoln Photos in Death. I was honored to be contacted by Mr. Harold Holzer, the Senior Vice President, External Affairs from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. Mr. Holzer is an historian and author, considered to be one of the leading Lincoln scholars in the world and he graciously offered to comment on the photos I have been debating here.

2. MR. P’s PHOTOGRAPH

This is the first time we are publishing this photograph here. We were going to wait until September 3, 2008 however the review by Mr. Holzer allows us to post it now.

Metal plate photo in hinged frame

Mr. P's photo in hinged frame

Close up of the picture 

 Close up of face.

Close up of beard Close up of beard
Close up of hands Close up of hands
RESOLVE: Mr. Holzer reviewed these images on Tuesday, August 19 and expressed the following observations:
  • The beard is too full (as previously mentioned above)
  • “Why would Secretary of War Stanton have allowed a photographer to make this intrusive shot when he confiscated the picture of Lincoln all dressed up and lying in state in NY City hall?”
  • The arms and chest are too narrow. When the doctors removed Lincoln’s shirt after he was shot, they notice his chest and arms were very muscular. He was ‘ripped’. The body in these photos is not.
  • Is this a Daguerreotype? “Unlikely, as it would be just way out of fashion by 1865 and too hard to take in a room with no lighting.”

All of these were valid points, but the best was still to come!

  • The photo is not a new image. Mr. Holzer pointed out that he had seen it before in Charles Hamilton and Lloyd Ostendorf’s 1963 book, “Lincoln in Photographs: An Album of Every Known Pose”, 1st edition, on page 294. Mr. Holzer stated, “It seems to me they are one and the same shot with the alleged deathbed photo Lloyd Ostendorf and Charles Hamilton published as a spurious image in their 1963 “Lincoln in Photographs,” p 294.  I don’t disagree with their conclusions—the beard is simply wrong.  Lincoln may have had a sort of full beard for his February 1865 life mask, but as the March inaugural photos and the Henry Warren photos show the next day (not to mention the known photo of Lincoln in his coffin), his beard had been considerably trimmed down by the spring of that year”.  
  • END

After conversing with Mr. Holzer on several points for clarification, I was able to find the same photo (although reversed) in another book call “Twenty Days” by Dorthy Meserve Kunhardt & Philip Kunhardt, Jr., Harper & Rowe Publishers, NY, 1965 (see photo and link below). It looks like the exact same photo!

Identical photo (in reverse) from book "Twenty Days" by Dorthy Meserve Kunhardt and Philip Kunhardt, Jr. 

 Identical photo (in reverse) from book “Twenty Days” by Dorthy Meserve Kunhardt.

http://news.webshots.com/photo/1003168559000142258BBKqRGIYne
 
CONCLUSION: The image is unlikely that of Mr. Lincoln based on the information presented here. But it does raise several questions about who it really is and the origin of the image itself.

QUESTIONS: Some of the questions raised are as follows:

  • Assuming that Mr. P. has an original Daguerreotype or tintype of this image, how did it end up in several books in the 1960s? Mr. P. found the photograph in a desk that his grandmother left to him when she died. This was about 25 years ago. The printed images have been in the public eye for at least 45 years!
  • Does Mr. P. have the original or is it a copy?
  • Was there more than one image made of the body at the time the photograph was shot?
  • Who is the man? Could it be one of Mr. P’s relatives? Mr. Holzer believes that the photo could be from the 1840s or 50s.
  • Where did Charles Hamilton and Lloyd Ostendorf get the original photo for their book?
  • What is the history of the picture?

FOLLOW UP: Mr. P is not disappointed that his photo was not Mr. Lincoln. He is actually thrilled that he owns a genuine ‘fake’ now. And it has given him a new area of research to investigate. History can be exciting, even if it isn’t on the ‘main stage’. Keep hunting Mr. P!

THANK YOU: Finally, I want to personally thank Mr. Harold Holzer for his time and efforts in helping me assist Mr. P  in this project. As well, I’d like to also thank Kevin O. Johnson, Ph.D in Dallas, Christy and Tins (pardijoe) for offering their comments, direction and assistance in solving the puzzle as well. Many many many thanks to all of you.

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

THE WASHINGTON D.C. ARSENAL PENITENTIARY (Part 2 of 3)

August 4, 2009: Barry Cauchon.

John Elliott has completed his 2nd of 3 parts on the Washington D.C. Arsenal Penitentiary. This segment covers the period from 1865 to 1869 and discusses the trial, the executions, the aftermath and fate of the penitentiary.

Excellent job John.

Enjoy.

Barry

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THE WASHINGTON D.C. ARSENAL PENITENTIARY (Part 2 of 3)

A History of the Prison Where the Conspirators of the Lincoln Assassination Were Tried and Hanged

Part 2: The Trial and Execution Period (1865-1869)   

One of the hoods worn by the Lincoln Conspirators

One of the hoods worn by the Lincoln Conspirators

Secretary of War Stanton

Secretary of War Stanton

Following the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and the failed attempt to cripple the Union government, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton vowed to capture and punish those who carried out the heinous attacks.  It was widely believed that such a strike against the North was a calculated, military tactic by Jefferson Davis and the South to re-ignite the war against the Union.

Stanton initiated the aggressive pursuit of those involved in the conspiracy and ordered the arrest of hundreds of suspects and witnesses.  The investigation quickly led to the apprehension of several people with direct involvement in the plot. Six of these suspects: Lewis Powell, David Herold, George Atzerodt, Ned Spangler, Mike O’Laughlen and Sam Arnold were captured and subsequently confined to Union Navy ships while the majority of the general detainees were held in the Old Capitol Prison and Carroll Annex.  Dr. Mudd and Mary Ann Surratt were held in the Old Capitol Prison but were considered prime suspects.

 

The Old Capitol Prison

The Old Capitol Prison

Union Navy Ship U.S.S. Saugus

Union Navy Ship U.S.S. Saugus...one of the monitor class ships that imprisoned some of the conspirator suspects.

In order to group the criminal defendants in one place and separate them from the rest of the detainees, Major Thomas Eckert suggested to Secretary Stanton that the old Arsenal Penitentiary be re-activated.  Major Eckert was the Telegraph Superintendent of the War Department and a trusted friend of President Lincoln. He was one of the many people who had declined the President’s invitation to attend the play “Our American Cousin” that tragic evening.

Major Thomas T. Eckert

Major Thomas T. Eckert

The Penitentiary had not been in use as a prison for three years.   Surrounded by water on three sides, it was considered to be one of the most secure and heavily guarded places in Washington D.C. 

Distant view of the D.C. Arsenal

Distant view of the Washington D.C. Arsenal

It had plenty of cells to accommodate the prisoners and even had a large enough room (on the 3rd floor of the former Deputy Warden’s quarters) to host the trial.  Security was extremely important because it was thought that the Southern forces may try to break the prisoners free or that northern loyalists may try to exact revenge on the conspirators.

On April 28th, 1865 Secretary Stanton ordered the commanding officer of the Arsenal to prepare the prison building for its new inmates.  Prison cells in the female ward (these cells were twice as large as the men’s cells) were cleared and inspected.  Shuck mattresses were delivered to the cells and nails were taken out of the walls to ensure that the prisoners would not harm themselves or possibly others.

General John F. Hartranft

General John F. Hartranft

Andrew Johnson appointed 34 year old General John F. Hartranft to take command of the Arsenal Penitentiary.  He would serve as the provost marshal and military governor of the prison and would be responsible for the defense of the Arsenal as well as the supervision of every aspect of the prisoners’ daily lives.  He would make sure they were fed and cleaned and that no one would communicate with them unless authorized by written orders of Secretary of War Stanton.

Rules of the Prison

By May 4th, all eight of the suspects would be imprisoned at the Arsenal.  Gen. Hartranft was issued a list of rules to guide his governance. Four of the twenty-eight rules of governance were as follows:

1. The keys of the Military Prison will be kept by the Military Governor who will make a personal inspection of each prisoner at least twice every twenty four hours.

The first inspections began at 7 am and the second would usually occur at 8 pm.

2. A medical officer will be assigned to make a medical inspection daily with the Governor twice in twenty four hours.  The inspection will be made in the presence of the Governor and at the times he makes his inspections.

The two medical examinations may seem excessive until you examine the following rule –

3. No prisoner will be allowed to escape alive or to defeat the ends of justice by self destruction.

Dr. George L. Porter

Dr. George L. Porter

Dr. George L. Porter, the appointed army physician of the Arsenal, accompanied Gen. Hartranft and conducted physical examinations of each prisoner.  He was permitted only to ask or answer medical questions from the inmates.  No other communication was allowed.

Dr. Porter also holds the distinction as being one of the few people who saw John Wilkes Booth buried in the storage room of the Penitentiary on April 27th, 1865.

4. The prisoners are to be supplied with nothing but necessary food and water during their imprisonment unless by special order….and the Military Governor will be responsible for preventing any knives, spoons or other articles from going into the possession of any prisoner, wherewith he may attempt to escape or take his own life or injure his person.

The prisoners’ meals usually consisted of coffee or tea, bread and salted meat.  After finishing their meal, the bowl in which their beverage was served was removed.  No other items would be brought in to the cell.

 

The Courtroom Layout

Special modifications were made to the building in order to have the trial on the third floor.  The courtroom was located in the northeast corner of the prison.  According to various sources, the courtroom measured 40 feet by 27 feet in size. Michael Kauffman details the courtroom layout and modifications in “Fort McNair and the Lincoln Conspirators”:

A door  was cut through the wall between the courtroom and the women’s cells, where all of the prisoners were kept. This would allow the accused to reach the courtroom without having to pass through the public areas of the building’s lower floors. The courtroom itself was whitewashed and a raised platform with a wooden railing was constructed for the prisoners to sit on while the court was in session. Flat bars were placed over the windows and gas lighting was introduced into the room.

Courtroom Layout in the Arsenal Penitentiary

Courtroom Layout in the Arsenal Penitentiary

A staircase ran along the east wall and led to a doorway in the northeast corner of the room.  The courtroom had  two windows that faced north and two to the east.  The prisoners were kept in the same seating arrangements throughout the trial. Samuel Arnold was the closest defendant to a window and would often be seen staring out into the freedom of the Washington D.C. skies. Two doors on the south side of the wall led to adjacent rooms. The rooms were supplied with beds and chairs for witnesses, members of the legal teams and military commission.

 The platform that was built for the prisoners stretched along the west wall and led to a doorway that opened to the cell block.  Thirteen chairs were placed on the platform to accommodate seven prisoners and the six guards that sat alternately between them.

Courtroom Sketch

Courtroom Sketch

Mary Surratt and her counsel had their own table that was situated near the platform.  This special arrangement may have been due to the fact that she was having health issues and fell ill during the trial.  It was thought that her condition might improve if she was given more room to breathe.

General Hartranft wrote in his journal that “Mrs. Surratt became so ill that it was necessary to remove her from the courtroom”.  At one point, she was permitted to sit in one of the adjoining rooms in order to avoid the sweltering heat and uncomfortable conditions of the crowded trial room.

In the north side of the courtroom stood a large table for the members of the commission, and on the south side was an equally large table for spectators and reporters.  Between them was the witness stand, where the witnesses faced the commission to give their testimony. Smaller tables were provided for counsel and evidence.

image_b_2_7271  3-727

image_a_2_7273  image_b_3_727

Strict security measures were put in to place during the trial.  A different guard would be used to escort the heavily shackled and hooded prisoners to the courtroom each day. In order to preclude the conspirators from talking with each other, they were forced to wear canvas hoods on their way to the courtroom and in their cells — all except for Dr. Mudd and Mary Surratt.  They were never forced to wear hoods.

General Hartranft also saw to it that the inmates were never allowed to occupy adjacent cells. In order to prevent messages from being tapped out to each other through the walls, every other cell was left empty. Additionally, the prison guard detail was changed out on a daily basis to make sure that no single guard would guard the same prisoner more than once.

General Hartranft respectfully and dutifully fulfilled his obligations as Military Governor of the Arsenal.  This was not an assignment that he took with much enthusiasm.  Even his wife tried to talk him out of becoming known as a “hangman”.  Difficult as it was, General Hartranft could take pride that he was selected due to his outstanding achievements and excellent record as an obedient soldier.  Only the best officer could be counted on to take this role.

During the trial period, Gen. Hartranft showed compassion towards the prisoners’ well-being on separate occasions.  In June, he requested of his commanding officer that five of the six inmates who wore the canvas hoods, be allowed to take them off.  The only exception was Lewis Powell.  The hood didn’t seem to bother him as much as the others.

From Gen. Hartranft’s journal:

“The prisoners are suffering very much from their padded hoods, and I would respectfully request that they be removed from all the prisoners except 195 (Powell). This prisoner does not suffer as much as the others and there may be some necessity for his wearing it, but I do not think there is for any others.”

During that same month of June, Gen. Hartranft requested and was approved to remove the ball and chain attached to the limbs of prisoners Lewis Powell and George Atzerodt.  Powell had been observed by a Sentinel on duty, trying to place a weighted ball against his head in attempt to do damage to himself.

Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock

Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock

General Hartranft also saw to it that other requests were granted to the prisoners.  He made sure that they received chewing tobacco, writing paper and ink, clothing (including underclothing) and various food items.  All of these requests were granted at the permission of his commanding officer General Winfield Scott Hancock.

On July 7th, 1865, General Hartranft completed his duties by seeing to it that the Orders of Execution of four of the prisoners were carried out.  The four remaining prisoners (Mudd, Arnold, Spangler and O’Laughlen) would later be transferred to the Island of Dry Tortugas to serve their sentences. The bodies of the hanged conspirators were placed in pine boxes and buried in shallow graves next to the gallows.  In November of that same year, the body of Henry Wirz (tried by a military commission and executed at the Old Capitol Prison grounds) would join them. They would remain buried there for the next two years.

In September of 1867, John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators would be reunited. Secretary of War Stanton ordered that the Arsenal Penitentiary be demolished except for the eastern and western ends of the building.  The ends of the building were to be spared and converted to Officer’s quarters.  As a result of the new construction work, all of the conspirators’ bodies would be exhumed and moved to another building on the Arsenal grounds known as Warehouse 1.  A trench that measured eight by eighteen feet and six feet deep was dug for the bodies.  The bodies were examined and then placed in the trench in the following order (east to west): Booth, Surratt, Powell, Herold, Atzerodt and Wirz.

In February of 1869, Andrew Johnson ordered that the bodies be released to their families.  This final act closed the chapter on the Arsenal Penitentiary’s role in President Lincoln’s Assassination.

End of Part 2 of 3

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Sources:

Surratt Society: Laurie Verge and Joan Chaconas

Michael Kauffman: FortLesley McNair and the Lincoln Conspirators

Michael Kauffman: American Brutus

David K. Sullivan: Behind Prison Walls: The Operation of the District Penitentiary, 1831-1862

Phyllis I. McClellan: Silent Sentinel on the Potomac

Edward Steers Jr., and Harold Holzer: The Lincoln Assassination Conspirators – The Confinement and Execution, As Recorded In The Letterbook of John Frederick Hartranft

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Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com