March 24, 2014

Brady Photos Might Show Lincoln Procession

Lincoln's assassination on April 15, 1865 shocked the nation. So soon after the official end of the Civil War, many soldiers were not yet home and many people were still celebrating the end and looking forward to their returning loved ones. 

As the first American president to be assassinated, Lincoln's funeral and procession were enormous. Lincoln was taken by train over 1,500 miles from Washington D.C. to Illinois. His coffin placed high in the hearse car so that it was in view of the crowds. The train never went over 20 mph to avoid accidents and stopped along the way for viewings where the body was removed from the train and brought through the streets on a horse-drawn hearse. His son Robert, accompanied his father's body for the duration of the trip along with the body of his brother, Willie who died in 1862 and was being buried along with his father. Mary Todd Lincoln did not make the trip. Newspapers printed schedules of when the train would hit cities and millions of people flocked to pay their respects.     

Until recently, there has not been much photographic evidence for the well documented funeral. Newspapers and letters detail the funeral. Paul Taylor, an enthusiast in Maryland, may have rediscovered photos in the Brady collection depicting the event. The photos appear to have been taken from the upper floor of the Brady studio in New York.   

At this point, the photos likely depict the event but it is difficult to confirm for sure as the labels attached to the photos did not mention Lincoln. 

There is a group trying to recreate Lincoln's Funeral train and route for the 150th anniversary of his death next year.


  1. Wow that's really awesome! I hadn't heard anything about this. I've actually tried to imagine what it would have been like waiting for the procession to go by, but now I have an idea.

    You say "at this point..." Do you know if or how they'd intend to go about proving that they are indeed pictures of the procession?

    1. There's a fairly good chance Lincoln wasn't mentioned in the label because the scene was so ubiquitous at the time. I'm happy he chose to try and capture a photo he knew he would never capture. There isn't a good way to officiate the photo. I'm fairly sure that it is Lincoln.

  2. I had no idea about the magnitude of Lincoln's funeral and procession; it would be amazing if these images are indeed of those events.

    1. There are people who say that the photos could be of someone else, but as this was the biggest event of that kind, during that time period, It's likely.

  3. Thank you for writing about this. I hadn't heard that these images had surfaced.


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