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    The Bugle Which Sounded Taps for Lincoln.




    Over the years, Heritage has offered various important relics related to President Lincoln's assassination, but none are more poignant than this instrument which belonged to the bugler in his personal guard.

    The story begins in 1863, when Governor Tod of Ohio offered to raise a troop of 103 men to serve as President Lincoln's personal guard. One volunteer from each Ohio county would be selected to serve in this elite unit. Young Hiram Cook of Columbus offered his services, but all the positions were filled, he was told - except, the officer said, that the unit did not have a bugler. Cook acknowledged that he did not play the instrument, but assured the man that he could learn to do so based on his earlier experience playing the cornet in the Union Army. Apparently, he was a quick learner, because by the time the troop assembled he was up to the job. The guard continued to watch over Lincoln until his assassination.

    A 1940 newspaper article in the Columbus, Ohio, Citizen quoted Cook at length about that tragic night. Some troopers escorted the president on his visit to Ford's Theatre, but Hiram and most of the guard had turned in when a man woke them shouting "Call out the guards! Seward has been attacked!" Cook played "Boots and Saddles" and the troop mounted up and set off for the Secretary of State's residence when another man flagged them down, shouting "For God's sake go to Ford's Theatre, President Lincoln has been shot." Recalled Cook, "We wheeled our horses so suddenly that some of us fell on the rough street and were injured. The rest of us hurried to Ford's Theatre."

    They arrived just in time to witness the President's limp body being carried across the street and up the stairs to a small second floor bedroom in what would become known as the Peterson House. "With difficulty we cleared the street and stood guard until 7 o'clock in the morning when the president died. Two hours later the body, wrapped in an American flag, was taken through the hushed streets to... the White House."

    For the next two days, Lincoln lay in state at the White House and then in the Capitol building, the body at all times watched over by his guard. "At six o'clock (Thursday) morning, after a prayer by Dr. Gurley, members of the Cabinet, Navy Officials, and a number of other dignitaries followed the coffin to the railway station, where the funeral train waited to carry the body from Washington to Springfield. A great crowd of people had gathered for the last scene of the tragedy. They stood in absolute silence with uncovered heads, while I raised my bugle to my lips and sounded taps over the body of Abraham Lincoln."

    The train made slow progress, stopping in a number of cities so citizens could pay their respects. According to the official History of Ohio, "at each place where the services were held on route the historic bugle was used in blowing taps, including the final obsequies at Springfield, Illinois."

    According to a June 17, 1923, article in the Columbus Dispatch, "the historic bugle has been located in Columbus and will be used in blowing the assembly call in the 'Pageant of Memories' which will be given at the state G.A.R. encampment June 26. The bugle is the property of H. M. Cook, who inherited it from his father, Hiram Cook, who was a member of President Lincoln's bodyguard."

    The historic bugle has remained in the Cook family ever since. In 1973, it was loaned to the Smithsonian Institution as part of an exhibit of artifacts of slain presidents, and displayed alongside the bugle which sounded taps for President Kennedy. A photograph of the Smithsonian display accompanies the bugle, along with as letter of thanks from the Associate Curator of the Division of Political History. It has been consigned for auction by a direct descendent of Hiram Cook whose notarized affidavit accompanies the lot.

    The bugle has been beautifully framed in a shadow box display measuring 25" x 19". The mouthpiece is a vintage replacement, but is otherwise in excellent condition save for minor bumps and bruises from use. The braid and tassel, which hang from the bugle, are period and presumably original.

    Heritage is honored to bring to auction this evocative relic of one of the saddest events in American history.


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    Auction Dates
    December, 2017
    2nd Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 6
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
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