DescriptionEdwin M. Stanton and Gideon Welles Partly Printed Pass Signed by Both, allowing "Col. Baker & Major Eckert & guard on the iron clads Montauk & Saugus". Accomplished by a clerk on a War Department form, 1 page, 5.25" x 3.5", Washington, D.C., April 28, 1865. Stanton's title as Secretary of War is printed on the form, Welles has written his own as "Secy Navy".
The autopsy of John Wilkes Booth had been held aboard the Montauk the previous day, and one of the officers mentioned in this pass - Col. Lafayette C. Baker, head of the secret service - had fooled curious onlookers by staging an apparent disposal of the assassin's remains in the Potomac River (his body was in fact stealthily taken to the old Washington penitentiary and buried beneath its floor). The other officer mentioned here, Maj. Thomas T. Eckert -- head of the War Department telegraph staff -- had conceived using the old penitentiary to hold Booth's co-conspirators, since it was one of the most secure spots in the city. It is possible that on the occasion of this pass he and Baker visited the Montauk and Saugus in conjunction with their removal. Davy Herold, Lewis Payne, Michael O'Laughlen and Sam Arnold were taken from the ironclads to the penitentiary the very next day, April 29.
Provenance: Walter R. Benjamin Autographs, Hunter, NY, 1983.
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