Club News Page 3
The Lincoln Funeral Train
Abraham Lincoln departed Springfield, Illinois on Feb. 11th , 1861 enroute to Washington D.C. having won the
popular vote in the 1860 presidential election. His train passed from Springfield, IL to Indianapolis, then to
Cincinnati and on to the capital of Ohio, Columbus where it arrived on the morning of February 13th. As with
most cities there were processions and/or speeches delivered at all large cities along the route. After speeches
were delivered in the Ohio Statehouse, Lincoln was conversing with state officials when a page delivered a
message announcing congressional confirmation of the Electoral College vote, declaring Lincoln the official
After departing Columbus, he visited Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Buffalo, Albany, New York City, Trenton, Philadelphia,
Harrisburg and finally Washington D.C.
He led the nation through some of it's most troubling times and the Civil War was nearing it's end. On the evening
of April 14, 1865, Confederate sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln in Ford's Theater
as the President and Mrs. Lincoln .attended the play, “Our American Cousin”. Lincoln was carried across the street
to the Petersen House, where he passed away the following morning.
While Booth carried out his attack on the president, George Atzerodt was assigned to kill the Vice President at
Andrew Johnson's residence in the Kirkwood Hotel, but lost his nerve.
Lewis Powell carried through with his assignment, gaining entry into the home of Secretary of State William
Seward, who was convalescing in bed from a buggy accident a week earlier. Seward was cut and slashed, then left
for dead. In his escape, Powell was confronted by family members, a nurse and body guard, who he fended off
with his knife. Seward survived the attack.
Gen. Ulysses S. Grant was also a target but had unexpectedly left town.
It has been argued that attempts were made for the Lincoln Funeral Train to follow the 1861 route in the opposite
direction. Many of these same cities were stops or were passed through on the way from Washington D.C to
Springfield with the slain president aboard. However, if that attempt was made, it was altered because the train
was not permitted to travel to Cincinnati. In the 4 years that had lapsed between the journeys, there was fear of
sabotage by southern sympathizers known as “copperheads” who were known to be in the area..
The War Department took control of the Funeral train. The tracks were declared military railroads and the funeral
train was given right of way over all other rail traffic. All rail switches were thrown and locked in advance with
military guards posted at every curve and intersection along the route.
For security purposes, the funeral train was preceded by a pilot train, 15 minutes in advance.
A special rail car had been built for President Lincoln but had never been used by him. (It would have been the
equivalent of Air Force One, today). It was built in the rail shops of the United States Military Railroad in
Alexandria, Va. between November 1863 and February 1865. The car was 48 feet in length with a raised center
roof and 12 windows on each side. Painted a rich brown or maroon color, with gold striping. On each side was the
U.S .Seal featuring an eagle with the words “United States” above. Two trucks were installed beneath each end,
giving the car 8 axles which provided a smoother and safer ride. Each axle contained 2 sets of wheels allowing it
to be used on 2 different gauges of track. ( With a few exceptions, all tracks in the United States were finally
standardized at 4”9” (1,448 cm) in June 1886).
The handrails on the outside, as well as interior portions of the car were altered to accept the coffins of the
President and his son “Willie” who was disinterred to be re-interred in Springfield, at the request of Mrs. Lincoln.
The funeral train was comprised of 9 cars, A few of Lincoln's family as well as several family friends and dignitaries
accompanied the bodies to Springfield. Guard duty of the train was conducted by 29 members of the Veteran
Reserve Corps. For their service,all 29 received the recently created Medal Of Honor. ( In 1917, the Medal of Honor
Board rescinded 911 awards. All 29 of these were among those).
At 7 AM, Friday April 21, honor guards took Lincoln's coffin to the depot and loaded it on the train. The 1,654 mile
journey to Springfield began at 8 AM when the train left the depot with some 10,000 witnesses.
Major stops were made as follows:
Baltimore Maryland, April 21 10:00 AM
Harrisburg Pennsylvania April 21 8:30 PM
Philadelphia Pennsylvania April 22 4:50 PM
New York City. New York April 24 10;50 AM
Albany New York April 25 10:55 PM
Buffalo New York April 27 7:00 AM
Cleveland Ohio April 28 6:50 AM
Columbus Ohio April 29 7:00 AM
Indianapolis Indiana April 30 7:00 AM
Michigan City Indiana May 1 8:00 AM
Chicago Illinois May 1 11:00 AM
Springfield Illinois May 3 9:00 AM
In all, the funeral train passed through nearly 450 communities. It is estimated that 1-1/2 million people viewed
Lincoln's body during these public viewings. It's also estimated that 7 million people viewed the train as it passed
through and between those communities.
The train entered Ohio near Conneaut and memorial services took place on Friday April 28th in Cleveland. Up to
9,000 people an hour viewed Lincoln’s coffin there. The train departed Cleveland at 12:00 Midnight. On Saturday
morning it passed through Shelby, Crestline, then Galion at 4:22. It continued through Gilead, Cardington, Ashley,
Lewis Center, Orange, Worthington and arrived in Columbus at 7:30 AM. Men and women alike stood along the
route, in the elements with bare heads to show their sorrow and offer a sign of respect to the fallen President.
Lincolns coffin was taken to the rotunda of the statehouse where tens of thousands of Ohioans filed past and a
grand memorial service was given. When the service concluded, a procession took the coffin back to the station
where it was again loaded onto the presidential car.
The train left Columbus at 8:00 PM bound for Indianapolis. Some portions of this route between Columbus and
Indianapolis had only been open for a few months. It was this portion of the route that kept the funeral train from
passing South to Cincinnati. After leaving Columbus, the train passed through Hilliards and on to Pleasant Valley (
Plain City) , where bonfires lit up the countryside for miles and a large concourse of citizens gathered at the depot
where two Americas flags were draped in mourning. At Unionville (Center), about two hundred citizens
assembled, most sitting in wagons that had traveled from the countryside. ( It's possible future Vice President
Charles W. Fairbanks was present since he was born in Unionville in 1852 and lived there during his school years).
At Milford (Center), , 400 – 500 citizens assembled around bonfires slowly waving flags and handkerchiefs. At
Woodstock, around 300 people were assembled, where the train made it's first stop since leaving Columbus.
Ladies presented bouquets of flowers, One by Miss Villard, Miss Lucy Kimble and Miss Mary Cranston on the part
of the ladies of Woodstock; one by Miss Ann M. Currier and another by sisters Mrs. G. Martin and Miss Delilah
Beltz. These ladies were permitted to board the funeral car and strew the flowers upon the coffin. The Woodstock
Cornet Band, led by U. Cushman, played a dirge, “Dreaming, I sleep, Love” and Playl's Hymn. Village bells slowly
tolled as men stood silent with uncovered heads.
The train next passed through Cable where a very large crowd assembled around bonfires and a soldier stood in
the center holding a flag.
At 10:40 PM, the train reached Urbana, At least 3,000 people had gathered near the depot. A large cross entwined
with wreaths of evergreens stood on the platform, which was worked under the direction of Mrs. Milo G. Williams,
President Ladies' Soldiers' Aid Society. Opposite the tracks were men and women representing the Methodist,
Baptist, Episcopalian and Presbyterian churches who sang the hymn, “Go to Thy Rest”. Large bonfires lit the night
sky as if it were day. Ten young ladies entered the car and strew flowers on the martyr's bier. One of the ladies
was affected so that she cried and wept with great anguish. At St Paris a large assembly was gathered with
drooped flags illuminated by bonfires as the train passed. People gathered with displays at Westville Station and
Conover. Piqua was reached at 12:20AM on Sunday April 30th where not less than ten thousand people
assembled. The Troy Band and the Piqua Band played appropriate music, after which a hymn was sung by a
delegation from the Methodist Church, led by Rev. Col. Granville Moody. As the train continued, drooped flags and
other expressions of mourning could be seen by bonfires that lit the night as the train passed Gettysburg,
Richmond Junction and Covington. At Greenville, 36 young ladies dressed in white, waving the star spangled
banner, greeted the cortege. Lafayette's Requiem was sung with thrilling effect by a number of men and women.
About 500 people gathered at the depot with Company C, 28 Ohio Infantry drawn up in two lines, with firearms
reversed. The train passed several other communities until it reached Richmond, where Indiana Governor Morton
and suite accepted the train into that state.
These scenes of mourning were displayed at every community until the train reached it's final destination of
Springfield Illinois at 9:00 AM on Wednesday May 3rd. where Lincoln was laid to rest.
The car, “ United States” was sold to the Union Pacific Railroad, who used it for dignitaries, Railroad officials and
later for foremen living quarters at work sites. In 1870 it was sold to the Colorado Central Railroad Company who
painted it a bright yellow. Union Pacific absorbed the CCRC in 1878 and acquired the car. It was then used as a
bunk car or dining car for work crews. In 1898, it was restored and displayed at the Trans-Mississippi Exposition in
Omaha. In 1903 it was sold to Franklyn B. Snow who exhibited it at the St. Louis World's Fair. After Snow's death in
1905, it was purchased by Thomas Lowry of Minneapolis as a gift to the city. When the city couldn't raise funds for
a museum, Lowry moved it to land he was developing. On March 18,1911, a large grass fire enveloped the car and
it was burned beyond repair.
Lincoln Memorial: The Journeys of Abraham Lincoln:
From Springfield to Washington 1861as president elect;
and from Washington to Springfield 1865 as president martyred;
By William T. Coggeshall ( University of Michigan online library)