NEW ADDRESS FOR THE ‘ABRAHAM LINCOLN RESEARCH SITE’

 

March 7, 2010: Barry Cauchon

ANNOUNCEMENT

I just received a note from Roger Norton, the webmaster for the wonderful Lincoln website called the Abraham Lincoln Research Site. Roger has created his own domain for the site and announces that he now has a new URL. If you have visited Roger’s site over the years and have saved his old URL, now is the perfect time to change it. Here is the information below.

Abraham Lincoln Research Site

OLD URL:  http://home.att.net/~rjnorton/Lincoln2.html

NEW URL:  http://rogerjnorton.com/Lincoln2.html 

As I have many links to the Abraham Lincoln Research Site within the articles posted here on A Little Touch of History, I will begin to change them. If you find any that I’ve missed, please let me know so I can rectify the situation.

Congratulations Roger on finally creating a domain of your own. I know you’ve been working on it for some time.

Best

Barry

 

outreach@awesometalks.com

 
 

 

 

 
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“AN AWESOMETALK WITH” 2008-2009 INTERVIEW LINKS

March 4, 2010: Barry Cauchon

Here is the list of the ten 2008-2009 “An Awesometalk With” interviews that I’ve conducted to date. If you never had a chance to read any of these, this would be a good time to catch up before the 2010 season is launched. Enjoy. Barry

1. An Awesometalk With HAROLD HOLZER, Lincoln Scholar (posted November 10, 2008)

https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2008/11/10/an-awesometalk-with-harold-holzer-lincoln-scholar/

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

https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2008/12/08/an-awesometalk-with-dr-thomas-schwartz-illinois-state-historian/

 3. An Awesometalk With ROBERT KRAUSS, 509th Composite Group Historian (posted December 16, 2008)

https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2008/12/16/an-awesometalk-with-robert-krauss-509th-composite-group-historian/

 4. An Awesometalk With ROGER NORTON, Webmaster of the Abraham Lincoln Research Site (posted December 30, 2008)

 https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2008/12/30/an-awesometalk-with-roger-norton-webmaster-of-the-abraham-lincoln-research-site/

5. An Awesometalk With LAURA FRANCES KEYES, Mary Todd Lincoln performer (posted January 26, 2009)

https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2009/01/26/an-awesometalk-with-laura-frances-keyes-mary-todd-lincoln-performer/

6. An Awesometalk With GEORGE HAUCK, WWII Veteran & Ex-Prisoner of  War (posted March 30, 2009)

https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2009/03/31/an-awesometalk-with-george-hauck-wwii-veteran-and-ex-prisoner-of-war/

7. An Awesometalk With ED ISAACS, Owner of Civil War Diary from Soldier Who Guarded the Lincoln Conspirators  (posted April 1o, 2009)

https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2009/04/10/an-awesometalk-with-ed-isaacs-owner-of-civil-war-diary-from-soldier-who-guarded-the-lincoln-conspirators/

 8. An Awesometalk With ANDREW JAMPOLER, author of “The Last Lincoln Conspirator: John Surratt’s Flight from the Gallows” (posted April 24, 2009)

https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2009/04/24/an-awesometalk-with-andrew-jampoler-author-and-ex-us-navy-commander/

 9. An Awesometalk With NIKAELA ZIMMERMAN, Kansas State Historical Society: Owners of the Lincoln Conspirators Gallows Crossbeam (posted June 24, 2009)

https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2009/06/24/an-awesometalk-with-nikaela-zimmerman-assistant-registrarconservation-technologist-kansas-state-historical-society/

 10. An Awesometalk With CHARLENE HENDERSON, The 17th Regiment CVI Gravesite Location Project (posted November 02, 2009)

https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2009/11/02/the-17th-regiment-cvi-gravesite-location-project/

Best

Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

 

The Four Soldiers Beneath the Scaffold – The Lincoln Conspirator Executions

March 23, 2009: Barry Cauchon

Yesterday I received a great email from author, Mr. Frank Crawford who has written “PROUD TO SAY I AM A UNION SOLDIER (Heritage Books)”. Frank asked if I could give him more information about the four soldiers who stood beneath the scaffold and sprung the traps on the four Lincoln assassination conspirators. In particular, he was looking for the sources of the information that I had posted. Like Frank, I had initially found conflicting information on the names of these soldiers, so I really wanted to know as close to the truth as I could. Here is what I found out and how I came about that information. If you have any further information on this subject, please feel free to contribute. And please, state any sources that you get your information from. As always, history isn’t always straight forward and contradictory information is common. Enjoy the puzzle.

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The four soldiers responsible for springing the traps. William Coxshall (front left), Daniel E. Shoup, Joseph B. Haslett and George F. Taylor.

The four soldiers responsible for springing the traps. William Coxshall (front left), Daniel E. Shoup (rear left), Joseph B. Haslett and George F. Taylor. Other than Coxshall and Shoup, the other two soldiers in the photo have not been matched with their names.

I started researching this subject about three months ago when I was writing my series called “The Lincoln Conspirators Executions Photos: A Study in Detail” . Initially, the first names I found were published as follows:

Corporal William Coxshall
Private Joseph B. Hazlett
Private Daniel Sharpe
Private George F. Taylor

Two of these names (Hazlett and Sharpe) did not match other sources so I continued my search.

Although these men belonged to different regiments in the Union army during the war, at the time of the executions they all belonged to Company F, 14th Regiment, Veterans Reserve Corps. So my first step was to track down their military records. I searched the National Park Service Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System website at http://www.civilwar.nps.gov/cwss/index.html. There, under Company F, I found their names and ranks although some were slightly different. According the the site, the names and ranks were taken from General Index Cards from soldiers’ records found in the National Archives. Here is how the NPS listed the names and ranks below.

Private William Coxshall
Private Joseph B. Haslett (Hazlett, Hazlitt or Haslitt)(they list all three other versions)
Private Daniel Shoupe (or Shoup)
Private George F. Taylor (but there were also George S. and George W. in the same company).

Seeing these differences, I looked for further confirmation to pin down the names and ranks.

  • ************************************

My next stop was to speak with Roger Norton, the webmaster of the Abraham Lincoln Research Site. He mentioned that on page 471 of Michael Kauffman’s book American Brutus, the names of the four men were listed as follows:

William Coxshall
David F. Shoup
Frank B. Haslett
George F. Taylor

Kauffman’s source:  Coxshall identified the other three in a story in the Milwaukee Free Press, January 31, 1914.
  • ************************************

Roger Norton recommended speaking to the folks at the Surratt Society, where many Lincoln experts and researchers share information. Laurie Verge of the Surratt Society and the director of the Surratt House Museum www.surratt.org was extremely helpful and sent me the following information based on my inquiry.

“The title “The Prop-Knockers” kept ringing in my head, and I realized that the late, great James O. Hall had done a very brief article for our monthly newsletter many moons ago on the subject of the four veterans who stood under the gallows. It was carried in the September 1986 issue.

It does not give much biographical detail, and Mr. Hall cites Roger Hunt (another of our members who is great at finding people, especially their graves) as helping him.

Here’s what he listed in a half-page article:

Soldiers were: Corp. William Coxshall. Co. F., 14th Veterans Reserve Corps. Born in England on July 10, 1843, he died at Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, on April 21, 1922. He is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Beaver Dam.

Pvt. Daniel E. Shoup, Co. F., 14th Veterans Reserve Corps. He was born in Fayette County, Pennsylvania, on January 16, 1839, and he died at Connellsville, Pennsylvania, on February 22, 1913. He is buried in Hill Grove Cemetery, Connellsville.

Pvt. George F. Taylor, Co. F., 14th Veterans Reserve Corps. Born in West Gardiner, Maine, on August 11, 1835, he died at Farmingdale, Maine, on December 24, 1915. He is buried in Hallowell, Maine.

Corp. Joseph B. Haslett, Co. F., 14th Veterans Reserve Corps. He was born in Indiana, Pennsylvania, on July 27, 1841, and died at Reading, Pennsylvania, on February 16, 1916. He is buried in Reading at the Charles Evans Cemetery.

So far as is known, Coxshall’s recollections are the only ones recorded.

Dr. Steve Archer found this account in an obscure book about actors and the theater (I can’t remember the title at this moment) while researching his definitive biography on Junius Brutus Booth, father of John Wilkes Booth.

Laurie sent this information out to a number of Lincoln researchers and Steven G. Miller, who specializes in the hunt for John Wilkes Booth and the soldiers involved in that chase, wrote back.

  • ************************************

Steven G. Miller wrote: “The book Laurie referred to is: Harlow Randall Hoyt, TOWN HALL TONIGHT. (New York: Bramhall House, 1955)”.

Town Hall Tonight by Harlow R. Hoyt (c1955)

Town Hall Tonight by Harlow R. Hoyt (c1955)

  • ************************************

TOWN HALL TONIGHT is about the grassroots of American theater. The author, Harlow Randall Hoyt, was fascinated with theater and published the book in 1955. His work is still used as course material in many universities today. But the question as to why the article called “William Coxshall’s Recollections” is found in his book is strange and seemingly out of place.

Author Harlow Randall Hoyt included an article in his book Town Hall Tonight called William Coxshall Re

Author Harlow Randall Hoyt included an article in his book Town Hall Tonight called "William Coxshall's Recollections"

So I looked into it a little bit more and what I found out is really interesting. On the website http://www2.powercom.net/~dchs/Personalities.htm I discovered that Harlow Randall Hoyt was from Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. Lincoln researcher Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) also spent time in Beaver Dam. That in itself is a very interesting coincidence. And of course, the biggest coincidence of all is that William Coxshall (1843-1922) also lived in Beaver Dam and is buried there.

Lincoln expert Carl Sandburg spent time in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin which was the same town that Harlow Randall Hoyt and William Coxshall lived in.

Lincoln expert Carl Sandburg spent time in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin which was the same town that Harlow Hoyt and William Coxshall lived in.

So it is very likely that these men either crossed paths with each other in the early 1900s, or at least knew William Coxshall’s story from local sources.

  • ************************************

Michael Kauffman wrote me to confirm that two of the four men can be identified. Coxshall is front left and Shoup is rear left. Haslett and Taylor are both on the right but which one is which is still unknown. As well, the discrepency in rank is on my radar. According to the NPS records from the National Archives, all four men were Privates at the time of the executions. From the Gardner photos, none of the four seem to have stripes on their uniforms. Yet, two of the four are identified in the above research as Corporals. Could they have been promoted after the executions. It’s very possible.

If you find other sources for this information, please feel free to let me know. If I can, I’ll be happy to pass it along to the researchers who can see how well it fits into the current historical record.

Best
Barry

outreach@awesometalks.com

Note: I want to thank Sandra Walia from the Surratt House Museum who also forwarded information to me which confirmed information in this article.

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WHO WAS THE BOY AT THE HANGING (Lincoln Conspirators Execution Photos)

March 07, 2009: Barry Cauchon

 

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A boy stands staring at the hanging bodies of Mary Surratt and Lewis Powell in a close up from the Lincoln conspirators execution photo called "All is Done (1)" by Alexander Gardner. The identity of the boy has always been a puzzle for researchers. However, researcher Steven G. Miller published an article in 1993 which may have answered the question.

As part of my 15 chapter series called The Lincoln Conspirators Execution Photos, A Study In Detail, plenty of questions have been raised by the photos. One puzzling image that caught my attention was the picture of a young boy standing in front of the scaffold in the photograph called “All is Done (1). I had the pleasure of conversing with Mr. Steven G. Miller, Lincoln assassination researcher/expert who specializes in the hunt for John Wilkes Booth. Roger Norton of the Abraham Lincoln Research Site says that Steven Miller is “probably the most knowledgeable Boston Corbett expert in the world”. Boston Corbett is the soldier who shot John Wilkes Booth at the Garrett farm.
 
 

But back in 1993, Steven Miller’s focus was on the boy seen at the hanging. He published a paper in the Surratt Courier in which his research not only argued very convincingly as to the identity of the boy but also names him. It’s a great article and Mr. Miller has graciously allowed me to reproduce it here.  I have added one correction [in brackets] regarding the sequence number in the Gardner series as being the fourth photograph. However, since 1993, other photos  in the series have been discovered, so it is now considered number seven.

 

  

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Is this John C. Collins?

 Article from the Surratt Courier  dated January 25, 1993.

 Who Was The Boy At The Hanging? by Steven G. Miller.

 

The most famous photograph of the execution of the Lincoln Conspirators is the one which shows the four bodies hanging limp and motionless on that hot July afternoon. The widely-reprinted image by photographer Alexander Gardner was the fourth [revised to seventh] in the series that he took that day. A close examination of this dramatic and grisly photo reveals a puzzle that had intrigued scholars for quite some time.

 The crowd has parted somewhat and right in the middle of the soldiers is a teenage boy in uniform. Who was this underaged spectator? Was he a drummer boy for a Veteran Reserve Corps Regiment, a camp-follower or the son of an officer stationed at the Old Penitentiary?

 Thanks to some pieces that just seemed to fall into place this micro-mystery may be solved at last.

 Michael Kauffman located an article called “Recollections of Boston Corbett” by John C. Collins from THE WASHINGTON STAR, April 12, 1914. Collins said that during the last two years of the war he was “the company boy,” a sort of regimental mascot, for the 16th New York Volunteer Cavalry.

 In this article Collins wrote that his older brother William “allowed me to accompany him on his return to the camp after a brief furlough to his home. It was expected that this visit would be of short duration and that after I had had a few days experience of actual camp life I would be returned to my home.”

 

Unfortunately, John Collins wrote, William was wounded in a skirmish with Mosby’s men before John could be returned home. After a short hospital stay William returned to his regiment, only to be captured on June 24, 1864, in the same battle in which Boston Corbett was taken prisoner. Collins, Corbett and several others were shipped to the infamous prison at Andersonville, Georgia. With no one to take him back to New York John Collins was stranded with the regiment.

 

John Collins said: “I was given a pony which had been condemned because (it was) too small for a cavalryman, a uniform was cut and made for me by some soldier who had been a tailor.  . . . I enjoyed all the privileges and shared in much of the life of the regiment, except picket duty  . . . I think it was even whispered that the little white-headed boy had some occult influence in the renown which came to the regiment as the captors of J. Wilkes Booth.”

 

Collins talked about the hunt for the assassins and discussed the character and career of Sergt. Boston Corbett. He wrote that Corbett “ . . . gave me his photograph with his autograph on it after he had killed Booth, and I remember his placing the forefinger of his right hand in the palm of my hand and saying that that was the finger that had pulled the trigger .”

 He also said that he was present at the hanging of Mrs. Surratt and the others. His eyewitness account is particularly interesting. He tells of the strict security that was in evidence around the prison. Outside the walls was, he said, “a double line of soldiers for the entire length, standing by twos with bayonets touching one another.” There were guards at each entrance and signed passes were required for admittance.

 Collins went on to say:

 “I have never quite known exactly how I did it, but I actually went through all these lines of troops without a pass, and in less than twenty minutes from the first attempt I was stationed not thirty feet away from the scaffold and in full view of everything said or done in connection with the execution. I suppose the fact that I was dressed in uniform had much to do with it. I think I am the youngest of living people who witnessed the most historical execution in this country.”

 Collins said that he had reason to regret his boldness after the trap fell, however: “Boy thought I was, I turned away with a sensation of horror and faintness and a feeling that I have never since lost, that I had no wish ever to witness another such scene.”

 Who were William and John Collins? Is there any verification for this wonderful story?

 

The records of the Sixteenth N.Y. Cavalry confirm that William Collins was a private in Company K. Prior to enlisting in the 16th he served in Company G, 28th New York Infantry.

 

According to the regimental history of the 28th N.Y. Infantry John Collins was born September 28, 1843 in Albion, New York. He was in the 28th N.Y. from May 22, 1861 to June 2, 1863. During this time he was captured and paroled by the Confederates twice. He had been promoted to the rank of sergeant when he was mustered out.

 He reenlisted as a private in Company K, 16th N.Y.V.C. on June 20, 1863 and served until October 3, 1865. He returned to Albion and farmed there until his death in March 1904. The unit history of the 28th N.Y. said he was one of the members of the Garrett’s Farm Patrol and received a share of the Reward money, but this is incorrect. Pvt. Collins had close contacts with members of the Patrol but was not one of them, nor did he receive any Bounty.

 

In the Doherty Archive is a letter from William Collins to John E. Hoover, Capt. Doherty’s nephew, written shortly after Doherty’s death. William Collins advised the family on how to obtain a pension for Doherty’s widow. He also wrote about Boston Corbett’s prison life in Andersonville and he mentioned the “bad blood””between the soldiers of the Garrett’s Farm Patrol and the Baker clan. Collins also told Hoover about John Collin’s presence at the Execution.

 In this letter, dated May 10, 1897, he said his brother “ . . . was present and saw the execution. Capt. Doherty I believe let him into the yard. He was only a boy at the time and was enlisted in the Regt as he was too young but he staid with the Regt. for about 18 months and was a general favorite with all the Officers and particularly Capt. Doherty. Col Switzer (Colonel Nelson B. Sweitzer) of the 16th N.Y. Cav. was determined to have him educated and sent to West Point at the close of the war, but he wanted to come home with the rest of us and did so.”

 William mentioned that his brother John was a graduate of Yale University.

 

Yale University‘s Alumni Office provided a listing for John from THE YALE OBITUARY RECORD 1928-29. It gave the following details:

 

John Chamberlain Collins was born on September 19, 1850 in Albion, New York. His parents were Michael Collins, an Irish-born farmer, and Susan Prime Collins, a descendant of a Pennsylvania Dutch family. He “joined the 16th New York Cavalry (although too young to enlist) and remained with it as a volunteer helper, stationed near Washington most of the time; was with that regiment at the time of capture of the assassins of President Lincoln and also accompanied it in the scouting and warfare against Colonel John S. Mosby.”

 After the end of the war Collins attended the Normal School in Brockport, New York. He then moved to New Haven, Connecticut, where he founded the New Haven Boys Club in 1874, (“It was the first organization of its kind”, he later recalled) and served as director until 1877. He was instrumental in establishing the Boys Clubs in the U.S. and Canada and worked with that organization for many years. He enrolled in the Yale Divinity School and received a B.A. degree in 1875 and a B.D. in 1878.

Collins served as an evangelist and missionary in Nebraska, superintendent of the New Haven Gospel Union, editor-publisher of THE GOSPEL UNION NEWS and director of the International Christian Workers Association. He died in New Haven on August 26, 1928 and was buried in Whitneyville, Conn.

 

William Collins wrote to Frank Hoover that Gen. Nelson Sweiter, commanding officer of the Sixteenth Cavalry, offered to nominate John Collins as a candidate to West Point, but that John wanted to attend religious school instead. What made him decide on this career? An important clue is found in the only recollection that John Collins wrote about the 16th N.Y. Cav., an article was mostly about Sergt. Corbett.

 

Collins said the following about Corbett: “I do not recall any other man in our regiment who made open religious profession. His tent in the camp at Vienna, Va., was only a few feet from mine across the narrow company streets. I recall him distinctly with hair parted in the middle. When I asked him once why he was his hair in this way he replied that it was because Jesus did so. The men made much sport of his religious views and eccentricities, but he took it in good part. He often expressed the view that he had been divinely selected and guided as Booth’s executioner and the avenger of the great-hearted President.”

Rev. Collins’ life-long dedication to religious and public service leads to one seemingly inescapable conclusion: that he chose this path directly because of the character and preaching of Boston Corbett.

Corbett was a true believer and often inspired religious-minded people with his good works and suggestions of “divine direction.” Rev. Collins was a religious “do-er” not just a religious talker. This sounds like the kind of Christian of which Corbett would have approved.

 It seems certain that John C. Collins was the “company boy” of the 16th N.Y.V.C. and that he was present when the Conspirators were hanged. But was he the Boy in the Photo? How many other boys were there in uniform when the Lincoln Conspirators were executed?

 Sources:

 — Boyce, C.W., A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE TWENTY-EIGHTH REGIMENT NEW YORK STATE VOLUNTEERS, FIRST BRIGADE, TWELFTH CORPS, ARMY OF THE POTOMAC, etc. Buffalo, New York; C.W. Boyce, 1896.

 — Alexander Gardner, Execution of the Conspirators, “Photo No. 4,” “Incidents of the War” series. See, Katz, D. Mark, WITNESS TO AN ERA: THE LIFE AND PHOTOGRAPHY OF ALEXANDER GARDNER. N.Y.: Viking Press, 1991. Pg. 189.

 — “Recollections of Boston Corbett” by John C. Collins from THE WASHINGTON (D.C.) STAR, April 12, 1914.

 — “John C. Collins and Boxing. The New Venture of New Haven’s Versatile Ex-Clergyman.” SATURDAY CHRONICLE (New Haven, Conn.), August 5, 1911.

 — Collins, John C., “Starting Something For Boys. A Bit of Autobiography for a Purpose.” SATURDAY CHRONICLE (New Haven, Conn.), December 21 and 28, 1912.

  — William Collins letter to John E. Hoover, dated May 10, 1897, Edward P. Doherty Archive, Wm. Hallam Webber Collection.

 

–Yale University’s Alumni Office, THE YALE OBITUARY RECORD 1928-29. New Haven, Conn.

 

END.

 Best

Barry

 outreach@awesometalks.com

 

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If you are interested in reading interviews by Lincoln scholars, experts, historians and even a Mary Todd Lincoln performer, please click on one of the interviews below.
 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 
 
 

 

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

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

 “An Awesometalk With” LAURA FRANCES KEYES, Mary Todd Lincoln performer (posted on January 26, 2009)