A Union Officer in the Field Describes the Reaction to News of Abraham Lincoln's Assassination

April 20, 1865

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A Union Officer in the Field Describes the Reaction to News of Abraham Lincoln's Assassination
Autograph Letter Signed
2 pages | SMC 1128

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      Background

      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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      Head Quarters Co "F" of 3d [sic] Ind Vol Infty
      Larkinsville Ala April 20th /65

      My Dear Brother,
                                   "Christian"

      Our mail has finaly [sic] come through this morning and I had the pleasure of receiving your short letter.

      And since you still think of me, so much as to write to me, I will not delay this answer.

      I am glad to hear that you are all well at home. I am glad also, that I can say as much, for myself. I have enjoyed very good health since I have been here. 

      We heard the news of the taking of Richmond and the capture of Genl Lee. [sic] and his army, as soon as the telegraph could bring it here, [sic] we [sic] fired 200 guns at this post, in honor of the great victories, [sic] But Alas! Our joys were turned into sorrows, for on the next day we received the news of the shocking murder of our president.

      Yesterday was set apart. [sic] for a day of mourning. all [sic] business was closed up and the flag floated at half mast.

      I have no photographs of myself, now, and cannot therefore send you one, but as soon as I can get to Huntsville to get some taken I will send one. I expect to be at home before a great 

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      Page 2 transcript
      while, and then you can see me and wont [sic] need a photograph. however [sic] I will send one any how. if [sic] I.get [sic] any.

      I must close my letter for this time, write again --

      From your Very Affectionate brother

      OTTO. H. SOLLAW

      Lieut. F3d [sic] Ind Vol Infty.


      Mr Christian Sollaw
      Canal, Fulton Ohio