Learning Lincoln On-line

Topic "Travel the Lincoln Heritage Trail"

 . . . President Lincoln is Dead Returns to Springfield, Illinois for Last Time

   In this section of our journey of President Lincoln's through history, we would like to add an unofficial link to the Lincoln Heritage Trail.  That would be the final journey of Abraham's body from Washington D.C. to Springfield, Il.

    President Lincoln was shot at the Ford's Theater, in Washington, D.C., by actor John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865. He died the next morning in a building directly across from the Theater. The following information is provided by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency brochure available at the tomb: News of his death came just six days after General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate army to Union General Ulysses S. Grant. The celebratory atmosphere that had prevailed as the Civil War drew to a close was replaced with one of shock and grief. As the nation mourned its martyred president, the National Lincoln Monument Association dedicated itself to the task of erecting a fitting memorial in Springfield, where Lincoln had lived from 1837 to 1861. Construction of the monument, which holds the remains of the president, his wife and three of their sons, began in 1869; it was dedicated five years later. Details of the President's death follow . . .

    The Washington STAR posted this account of the President's assassination:
"Washington, Saturday, April 15 -- 11 o'clock A.M.  The Star extra says:  "At 7:20 o'clock the President breathed his last, closing his eyes as if falling to sleep, and his countenance assuming an expression of perfect serenity. There were no indications of pain and it was not known that he was dead until the gradually decreasing respiration ceased altogether.
     Rev. Dr. Gurley, of the New-York avenue Presbyterian Church, immediately on it being ascertained that life was extinct,  knelt at the bedside and offered an impressive prayer, which was responded to by all present.
     Dr. Gurley then proceeded to the front parlor, where Mrs. Lincoln, Capt. Robert Lincoln, Mrs. John Hay, the Private Secretary, and others, were waiting, where he again offered a prayer for the consolation of the family.
    During the Civil War the practices of present day funerals actually was initiated by the President himself.  He probably never had it in his mind that he would be perhaps the first to have a "funeral procession."
    Abraham Lincoln's body would be embalmed.  This procedure was invented to help in preserving the bodies of many of the thousands of brave Civil War soldiers in the battlefields.  Many of these bodies would be returned to families for a proper family burial.  Some would be buried on the spot, a record maintained to show where they were placed, and then after families were notified of the dead soldier, the body could be removed and shipped to the family.  This all sounds gruesome, but that's what goes on even now when deceased soldiers are returned to our country for burial with family.  This was a very respectful thing for our government.

Washington, Saturday, April 15, Story Continued . . .
The President's body was removed from the private residence opposite Ford's Theatre to the executive mansion this morning at 9:30 o'clock. in a hearse, and wrapped in the American flag. It was escorted by a small guard of cavalry, Gen. Augur and other military officers following on foot.
     A dense crowd accompanied the remains to the White House, where a military guard excluded the crowd, allowing none but persons of the household and personal friends of the deceased to enter the premises, Senator Yates and Representative
Farnsworth being among the number admitted.
     The body is being embalmed, with a view to its removal to Illinois.

Washington, Saturday, April 15 -- 12 A.M.
    Andrew Johnson was sworn into office as President of the United States by Chief-Justice Chase, to-day, at eleven o'clock.  Secretary McCullough and Attorney-General Speed, and others were present.
     He remarked:  "The duties are mine. I will perform them, trusting in God."
    The President would make a long and slow journey by train back to Springfield, Illinois.  This trip would take some 21 days, with several memorial services in large cities, small towns and crowds along the tracks throughout the nation.  

The Special "Lincoln Train" Trip is described in detail at the Norton "Lincoln Assassination site"   Click Here .


    The train stopped during its twelve-day journey for ten services in as many cities before arriving on May 3rd in the Springfield depot. Thousands of mourners paid their last respects as the president lay in state throughout the day and night at the state capitol (now the Old State Capitol State Historic Site). On the morning of the 4th, the long funeral procession journeyed to Oak Ridge Cemetery, where services for the president were conducted. Following the final hymn, Lincoln's casket was placed in the cemetery's public receiving vault next to Willie's.

Right-- Upon arrival to Springfield, as was the common practice in the Oak Ridge Cemetery, the body of the President was placed in the temporary holding tomb, located immediately behind the present memorial tomb.  It is dug into the hill.  The public receiving vault was one of the resting places at Oak Ridge for the president's remains. That vault, at the foot of the
hill north of the present tomb, still stands. The following December, Lincoln's remains were moved to a temporary tomb, which was dismantled after he was moved to the partially completed permanent tomb in 1871 (see below). The tomb has had two reconstructions, one in 1899 and another in 1930.  


Also in the tomb are Mary Todd, wife, Eddie, Tad and Willie, the sons of the Lincolns.  Robert Todd is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Abraham Lincoln Tomb in Springfield is a popular place to go to see where this great one-time neighbor, lawyer and President now rests for eternity.  Most children and adults like to rub the nose of the Lincoln head sculpture.

Return to Lincoln Heritage Trail Page

 Learning Lincoln On-Line Topics Index

Learning On-Line Home Page