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Abraham Lincoln's Final Journey

Follow the slain president's funeral train as it wound from Washington, D.C., to Springfield, Illinois

Washington, D.C.
After President Abraham Lincoln died at the Petersen House at 7:22 a.m., the United States went into immediate mourning. His remains were removed to the White House in a plain, pine coffin. After doctors performed an autopsy, mourners paid their respects at the White House, the Capitol and in a grand procession along Pennsylvania Avenue. Finally, on Friday morning, April 21, Lincoln’s remains were taken to the same depot where, four years earlier, the president-elect had arrived for his inauguration.

Following Lincoln's death at the Petersen House (depicted here), his remains were returned to the White House. Drs. J.J. Woodward and E. Curtis recovered the fatal bullet during an autopsy.

The question of how to mourn Lincoln arose immediately. Mary Lincoln fought to keep her husband’s remains out of the national spotlight, but reluctantly conceded to pleas that a public funeral was in the best interests of the grieving nation.

On Tuesday, April 18, the East Room of the White House opened for mourners to see the casket of the slain president.

The viewing in the White House continued through the morning of Wednesday, April 19.

On Wednesday, April 19, 25,000 people lined Pennsylvania Avenue as Lincoln's casket traveled from the White House to the Capitol. Millions attended religious services nationwide marking the day.

During the procession, the United States Marine Band played a Funeral March by Brevet Major General John G. Barnard. Click the video above to hear the Marine Band play the march in 2009.

Artist Alfred Waud captured some of the decorations business owners along Pennsylvania Avenue used to demonstrate their grief. Many buildings, including Ford’s Theatre, were draped in mourning cloth.

Lincoln's casket proceeded down Pennsylvania Avenue to the U.S. Capitol, where mourners filed through on April 19 and 20.

A flag flew at half-staff above the Capitol Building, which was hung with mourning crepe.

At 8 a.m. on Friday, April 21, the funeral train left the Washington Depot of the Baltimore & Ohio railroad. The funeral car was draped in black crepe and richly ornamented with emblems of mourning.

The train car carrying Lincoln's remains was named the United States. It was completed only a few months before his death. The funeral was the first and last time the president traveled in it.

Baltimore, MD
Baltimore's Camden Station was the train's first stop. Four years earlier, great precautions were taken to ensure Lincoln's safety when he passed through as president-elect. 

On this day, 10,000 citizens filed by Lincoln's bier at Camden Station in less than two hours to honor the president.

Camden Station stands close to the Camden Yards stadium and today houses the Baltimore Sports Legends Museum.

From the train station, Lincoln's coffin proceeded to the Baltimore Merchants Exchange, at the corner of Gay and Water streets. Today, the U.S. Custom House sits on the site of the Merchants Exchange.

The front page of the Baltimore Sun carried a notice about the train the day before it arrived, as well as reports about mourning in the city and Lincoln’s assassins. Baltimore added $10,000 to the reward for the capture of John Wilkes Booth.

Captain Robert Todd Lincoln accompanied his father's body to Baltimore before returning to Washington to attempt to comfort his mother. He finally departed for the Springfield funeral on May 1.

Harrisburg, PA
On Saturday, April 22, tolling bells and a 21-gun salute announced the funeral train's arrival at the Pennsylvania Railroad Depot in Harrisburg.  The funeral procession was cancelled due to a harsh, heavy rain.

Despite the terrible weather, a large crowd assembled outside the State House. So many people were waiting to enter the Hall of the House of Representatives, where Lincoln lay in state, that mourners exited through windows after viewing the body.

In 1897, a fire burned the Pennsylvania State House in which Lincoln's Harrisburg funeral was held. The current Capitol building dates from 1906.

At Lancaster, en route to Philadelphia, 20,000 people assembled just to see the train pass.
Sitting in his carriage on the edge of the crowd was Lincoln’s predecessor as president, James Buchanan.

Philadelphia, PA
On April 23, a huge throng of people overwhelmed the city as the casket traveled from Philadelphia's Broad Street Station to Independence Hall. By comparison, only a few thousand had greeted Lincoln's inaugural train in 1861.

Lincoln's hearse was pulled by eight black horses with silver-trimmed harnesses. The crowd, described by one reporter as "a living mass of men, women and children," was tormented by pickpockets, triggering a chaotic scene during which one woman broke her arm.

Lincoln's casket was placed in Independence Hall, in the same room where the Declaration of Independence had been signed. Mourners waited for several hours in a three-mile-long line to view the body, and some never made it inside.

New York City, NY
Tens of thousands watched the funeral train as it passed through New Jersey, and the crowd in Newark covered a square mile. At Jersey City, the funeral car was ferried across the Hudson River to New York City for the funeral procession and a two-day viewing. Ships lowered their flags to half-mast as the little vessel approached Manhattan Island. 

The funeral in New York City lasted for two days, April 24 and 25. Among the million mourners was six-year-old Theodore Roosevelt, who watched the funeral procession as it passed beneath the windows of his grandfather's house (at left).

The Roosevelt mansion was located on the southwest corner of Broadway and 14th Street, adjacent to Union Square.

The New York City Council attempted to ban African Americans from participating in the Lincoln funeral procession, but the order was rescinded at the insistence of Lincoln's Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton.

A police escort was assigned to protect African Americans as they joined in the grandest, most solemn procession ever staged in Manhattan. New Yorkers decorated their buildings in mourning crepe.

New Yorkers, who had once talked of secession, now competed to honor Lincoln. One observer noted, "every house, from pavement to roof, all the way from the Battery to Central Park, was draped in black."

New York City Hall today.

Lincoln's body was placed in City Hall. At 1 p.m., the building opened to a vast throng. Mourners filed past the president’s body throughout the night.

A year after Lincoln's funeral, a casket maker created this advertisement depicting the slain president's casket leaving City Hall.

Albany, NY
The funeral train left New York City on April 25 and headed north along the Hudson River, pulled by the locomotive "Constitution". People gathered along the river to offer their sympathies. 

This pass officially granted permission to the New York Central Railroad to remove Lincoln's body from New York City to Springfield.

The funeral train arrived in Albany around midnight, and the solemn procession carrying the president's remains to the State Capitol was flanked by 100 firemen bearing torches. All through the night, mourners passed the casket at a rate of 4,000 per hour.

The following day, tens of thousands braved the hot sun, crushing crowds and ruthless pickpockets for a chance to glimpse the procession, led by six white horses, as it went from the Capitol Building to the rail station.

In Syracuse, 35,000 turned out at midnight to see the funeral car during a half-hour stop at the city's New York Central Railroad station, which stood in this location from 1839 to 1870.

Buffalo, NY
The route from Albany to Buffalo witnessed the largest trackside crowds to date. Expressions of grief stretched along the tracks: bonfires and torches illuminated the night, and mournful dirges resonated from station to station. The train eventually reached Buffalo, where a funeral was held on April 27.

Public viewing at St. James Hall, which stood in this spot in downtown Buffalo in 1865, lasted 11 hours. Nearly 100,000 mourners shuffled silently and respectfully through the building.

On the morning of April 27, Buffalo's St. Cecilia Society sang "Rest, Spirit, Rest," one of many pieces of music composed in memory of Lincoln. Click the above video to hear a 2013 rendition.

At all points along the journey, an honor guard attended to Lincoln's casket, both while it lay in state on public display, and while it was on board the funeral train. This key granted access to the funeral car.

Cleveland, OH
A 36-gun salute sounded as the funeral train pulled into Cleveland's Euclid Street station a few minutes after 7:00 a.m. on April 28.  It remained in the city for just one day.

The city had hurriedly constructed an outdoor pavilion in a downtown park, Public Square, to handle the expected crowds.

Public Square, site of Lincoln's Cleveland funeral, today.

Wind and rain failed to deter the grieving multitudes who filed by the open casket before it was closed at 10:00 p.m.

The open-casket funeral in Cleveland took place two weeks after Lincoln's death. The Cleveland Morning Leader commented on the appearance of his body.

The coffin, strewn with elaborate floral offerings, was returned by torchlight to the rail depot for a midnight departure to Columbus.

The locomotive Nashville pulled the funeral train while on the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati Railroad. A portrait of Lincoln hung over the cowcatcher.

Columbus, OH
Vast crowds slowed the funeral train as it moved through northern Ohio. It arrived in Columbus, Ohio, for a procession to the state capitol building on April 29.

Once the train arrived in Columbus, mounted cavalry stationed at intersections kept the route clear for the funeral procession.

Ohio's Capitol was dressed for mourning: its columns adorned with black cloth, flags lowered to half-staff, and the words "With Malice toward none; with Charity for all" suspended over the cornice.

Inside the Ohio Capitol, battle-worn flags of Ohio's regiments were draped alongside the traditional black mourning cloth. Lincoln's body was viewed on a unique dais adorned with moss and flowers.

After this official stop, there was another night journey past small towns teeming with mourners, many of whom had come in from the surrounding countryside. Others had traveled north from Kentucky, the state of Lincoln's birth.

Indianapolis, IN
Around midnight the train crossed into Indiana, the state where Lincoln had spent his boyhood. A heavy rain forced the cancellation of planned outdoor ceremonies in Indianapolis. Still, 100,000 people came to pay their respects.

During the 13 hours Lincoln lay in state at the Indiana State Capitol (on the same site as the present Capitol), mourners streamed by at a rate of 155 per minute. The open casket allowed viewers to see Lincoln's body.

During Lincoln's funeral service in Indianapolis, the City Band played the dirge composed for the occasion by Charles Hess in honor of Lincoln.

Chicago, IL
After an overnight trip marked by more tolling bells and platform dirges, the funeral train arrived shortly before noon on May 1. While a band played "The Lincoln Requiem," 36 schoolgirls dressed in white placed garlands of white roses atop the casket. At the time of Lincoln's death, there were 36 states.

The city's parade featured a regiment of Confederate prisoners of war who had taken an oath of allegiance to the Union. An armed escort guarded Lincoln's funeral car, where Willie Lincoln's remains stayed throughout the journey.

Mourners entering the Cook County Courthouse passed beneath an inscription reading "He Was Sustained by Our Prayers, and Returns Embalmed by Our Tears."

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 destroyed the former courthouse. Today Chicago's City Hall sits on the same site.

Sketches like this one, of Lincoln’s Chicago viewing, were drawn by artists who traveled with the train. Their works provided the basis for woodcuts that enabled mass production of these images in news magazines.

After the courthouse doors closed at 8:00 p.m., a torchlight procession escorted Lincoln's casket to the depot of the Chicago, Alton, and St. Louis Railroad.

Each leg of the funeral train's journey was carefully planned and timed. Schedules like this one let communities along the way pay their respects as it rolled past.

Springfield, IL
On May 3, Lincoln's body arrived in his hometown of Springfield, where he had lived from 1837 until his departure for Washington in 1861. 

The mourners included old friends and neighbors, colleagues from Lincoln's lawyer days, political allies and adversaries, soldiers bearing the scars of conflict and children barely old enough to understand the scene of grief.

In Springfield, 75,000 mourners climbed the stairway to the second floor of the domed Capitol.

Lincoln's body was displayed in Representative Hall in the former Illinois Capitol, the same chamber where in 1858 he had warned, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

After the public viewing, tinsmith S.S. Elder used these tools to seal Lincoln’s coffin before his burial in Springfield. He later created this shadow box to commemorate the occasion.

On the morning of May 4, General Joseph Hooker led the final march to Oak Ridge Cemetery, passing the Lincoln home at Jackson and Eighth Streets.

Mary Lincoln, deep in grief at the White House, was too distraught to travel to her former home in Springfield for the funeral. The home is today a National Historic Site.

The Rev. Harry Brown, an African American minister well known to the Lincoln family, attended the hearse. Lincoln's rider-less horse, Old Bob, followed just behind.

A final funeral service took place at the cemetery. Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address was read. A local choir sang traditional dirges and pieces composed for the occasion. Bishop Matthew Simpson delivered an oration that left many in tears. Finally, the vault's iron gates clanged shut.

Credits: Exhibit

Exhibition Developer:
Anna Snyder, Digital Public History Intern

Exhibition Manager:
David McKenzie, Associate Director of Education for Digital Resources

Editors:
Sarah Jencks, Director of Educational Programming
Tracey Avant, Curator of Exhibitions
Heather Hoagland, Manager of Collections & Exhibitions
Liza Lorenz, Director of Communications & Marketing

Credits: All media
The exhibit featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.