Journey’s End: 1865

PrintPrintEmailEmail

At noon a salute of twenty-one guns boomed through the hot, still air, and the final funeral procession formed. At the head were General Hooker and his staff; then Brigadier General Cook; Brigadier General Oakes; huge Justice Davis, whom Lincoln had appointed to the Supreme Court; Governor Yates of Illinois and his staff; the governors of other states; members of Congress; and a multitude of others. In the line was Old Tom, sweating under a caparison of black velvet, led by two perspiring grooms.

At Oak Ridge Bishop Matthew Simpson of the Methodist Church, a close friend of Lincoln’s in Washington, gave a eulogy, and the massed choir sang in the blaze of sun. The coffins of Lincoln and his son Willie were placed in the hillside tomb. That small room was cool and dim, and it smelled of evergreens strewn on the stone floor.

Slowly the crowd dispersed. In the trance of heat Springfield grew quiet as the country town to which Lincoln had come nearly thirty years before. The congressmen went back to Washington. The governors returned to their capitals. By train, wagon, horseback, and on foot a multitude of people journeyed homeward. And from their assignment with history young Ed Beall went back to repairing boxcars and Bill Porter caught a freight on the Chicago and Alton run.

SIDEBAR: IF…