The chase for Lincoln's killer was not the only thrilling manhunt underway at the close of the Civil War in April 1865.
Another man was on the run that spring, desperate to save his country, his family, and his life. He was Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy. His final journey began at church on Sunday morning, April 2, where he was handed an urgent telegram from Robert E. Lee: there is no more time - the Yankees are coming - flee the capital at once. Shortly before midnight Davis fled from Richmond, vowing to fight on. Accused of plotting Lincoln's assassination, Davis became the object of a one-hundred thousand dollar reward and a vigorous pursuit by Union cavalry. During the Civil War Jefferson Davis never enjoyed the honors given to Lee and Jackson, but his final journey into captivity, and the suffering he endured, transformed him into the martyr of the South's Lost Cause.
Meanwhile, another man was also taking his last journey. He was Abraham Lincoln, late sixteenth president of the United States. It began on April 19 after the White House funeral. From there a solemn procession escorted him to the Capitol rotunda, where tens of thousands of mourners viewed him in death. This was just the beginning. On April 21, one week after he was shot, four-hundred soldiers escorted him to the Baltimore and Ohio railroad depot and placed him aboard the special train that carried him home on the nearly 1700 mile trip to Springfield. When it was over Lincoln's corpse had been unloaded from the train ten times and placed on public view in all the great cities of the North between Washington and Springfield. More than one million Americans looked upon the dead president's face, while several million watched the funeral train roll by. It was the largest, most elaborate, and magnificent funeral pageant in American history and it raised Lincoln to the pantheon of secular sainthood.
- Publication Date:
- 01 / 02 / 2011