Sunday, April 22, 2012

Civil War Sunday-The Plot to Steal Lincoln's Body

I thought long and hard about what to write today for my Civil War Sunday. 

Today is Earth Day:  so maybe give my post an environmental slant?  Indeed, there are links to at least one environmental study of the effects of the Civil War. 

Thinking of the crazy weather we've been having lately- what about weather during the Civil War?  Covered, also, at this link. 

So, what I would like to write about instead is something related to an event that happened this week back in 1865 - the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and his passing on April 15, 1865 at about 7:22 AM.

Grave robbing was far from a rare occurrence in the 19th century.  In fact, there was an episode of the PBS show History Detectives that started with a person who thought he had a strange Civil War weapon in his possession.   It seemed to be an explosive device - a torpedo.  (back in the Civil War era the word "torpedo" was a general term referring to an explosive device - not the same meaning as today.)

It turned out to be a torpedo all right - a device that, if a grave robber tried to disturb a grave, would explode in the robber's face.

Abraham Lincoln's body could have used one of those.

I'm starting to read a fascinating book called "Stealing Lincoln's Body" by Thomas L. Craughwell.  It is based on a true story of some counterfeiters back in 1876.  Their gang's best engraver was in prison.  They needed him.  They decided to steal Lincoln's body and hold it for ransom.

The ransom would include a pardon for their engraver.

Lincoln's body wasn't guarded.  After all, who would want to steal it?

Did the counterfeiters succeed?  What about the Secret Service?  What finally happened at the end?

You'll just have to read the book to find out.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting post. The book sounds interesting too. Always enjoy your links especially those that go to old photos.


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