April 20, 1865

A Union Officer In the Field Describes the Reaction to News of Lincoln’s Assassination

Autograph Letter Signed
2 pages
SMC 1128
Although Lincoln died at 7:22 a.m. on Saturday, April 15, 1865, news of his assassination did not reach some of the armies in the field until days later. But the delay, though coupled with the glorious news of Richmond’s fall and Lee’s surrender, did nothing to lessen the blow. Here, an Ohio lieutenant, serving in Alabama, describes how the troops there received, and took, the dire news:
We heard the news of the taking of Richmond and the capture of General Lee and his army, as soon as the telegraph could bring it here. We fired 200 guns at this post, in honor of the great victories, But alas! our joys were turned into sorrows, for only the next day we received the news of the shocking murder of our president. Yesterday was set apart for a day of mourning. All business was closed up and the flag floated at half mast.
Whole divisions, it was said, sobbed together upon hearing that “Father Abraham” was the war’s final casualty.
Autograph Letter Signed in the hand of Lt. Otto Sollaw, Company F of the 3rd Indiana Volunteer Infantry, 2 pages, quarto, Head Quarters, Larkinsville, Alabama, April 20, 1865. To his brother Christian Sollaw in Ohio.
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