Lincoln's assassination report to Union Cavalry General George H. Chapman

    [Lincoln Assassination] Assistant Adjutant General William Russell, Jr., Autograph Report Signed "Wm Russell Jr / AAG". One page, 7.75" x 9.5", n.p., April 15, 1865, to Union Cavalry General George H. Chapman. Written on letterhead of "Head Quarters Cavalry,/ Middle Military Division" (Army of the Shenandoah), advising Chapman, as commander of the 2nd Cavalry Division, that "The President was assassinated last night at Ford's Theatre & was reported dying at 1 A.M. The Secy. of War was also stabbed in his bed & is not expected to live. In accordance with instructions from Hd. Qrs. M.M.D., the movement ordered this P.M. is suspended. You will also issue the strictest orders to your pickets to allow no one within or without the lines except those well known. All others will be arrested & forwarded to Hd. Qrs. at once." This letter was doubtless written for hand delivery in the early morning hours of the 15th, before Lincoln had died. The mistaken report that the secretary of war (rather than secretary of state) had been stabbed, plus the order for pickets to arrest unrecognized parties, suggest the confusion and anxiety that rippled across the north in the immediate wake of the dreadful news. Both in and out of the military it was feared that the assassination was a signal for more such stealthy acts and a last, desperate southern uprising. As its colonel, Chapman led the 3rd Indiana Cavalry at Gettysburg and Brandy Station. Made a brigadier in July 1864, he was wounded at and brevetted for Winchester. Russell, the writer, joined the 18th New York infantry in 1861, won brevets for Antietam, Gettysburg and Petersburg, and died of wounds received in action with Indians in Texas in 1870. Evenly toned with folds; fine.

    Joseph C. Rubinfine, circa 1981.

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    November, 2008
    20th Thursday
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