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Lincoln Funeral Train.

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Following his death by assassination, the body of Abraham Lincoln was borne from Washington, D.C. to its final resting place in Lincoln's hometown of Springfield, Illinois, by funeral train, accompanied by dignitaries and Lincoln's eldest son Robert Todd.

Funeral car before the Assassination.

The remains of his son, William Wallace Lincoln, were also placed on the train, which left Washington, D.C., on April 21, 1865 at 12:30 pm and traveled 1,654 miles (2,662 km) to Springfield, arriving on May 3, 1865. Several stops were made along the way, in which Lincoln's body lay in state. The train retraced the route Lincoln had traveled to Washington as the president-elect on his way to his first inauguration, and millions of Americans viewed the train along the route. Lincoln's wife Mary Todd Lincoln remained at the White House because she was too distraught to make the trip; she returned to Illinois about one month later.

Route of Lincoln's Funeral Train

On Monday, May 1, 1865 During the night the train passed through Whitestown (100 people gathered around a single bonfire at 1:00 A.M.), Lebanon, Thorntown, Colfax, Clarksville, Lafayette, where it headed north on the Monon railroad. The train passed through towns like Tippecanoe Battleground, Brookston, Chalmers, Reynolds, Bradford (Monon), Francesville, Medaryville, San Pierre, Kankake (Riverside), Lacrosse, Wanatah, Westville, Lacroix (Otis) and finally at Michigan City. Thousands of mourners waited along the Monon tracks to view the train as it passed. It is said that close to 200 people waited near Riverside at the Kankakee River to pay their respects to the fallen President. The funeral train entered Michigan City at the depot at 8:35 a.m., where it then came into the care of the Michigan Central Railroad. It passed beneath a magnificent arch of roses and evergreen 25 feet wide and 30 feet high, resting on nine arches. On each side of the arch was an inscription. A delegation of ladies, 16 in number, presented a beautiful cross made of solid flowers which they asked permission to place on the coffin. The request was granted. In the group stood 36 little girls representing the entire number of the states in the Republic. They were dressed in white with black sashes and rosettes of trailing arbutus on the right shoulders. The young ladies sang national airs.

Funeral Train at Michigan City

Patriotic organizations conducted memorial services and townspeople were permitted to view the remains of the martyred president. The train had to wait an hour or so in Michigan City for the arrival by special train of the committee from Chicago. With the arrival of the committee, the funeral cortege was ready to leave for Chicago.

The canopy at Michigan City.

A special correspondent from the Chicago Tribune on hand wrote the following report:

“Two thousand people were here assembled, and a more serious, thoughtful congregation had not been. The men stand with uncovered heads, and women look on in silence. A number of little children were grouped together, holding in their hands white flags with mourning fringes. At another place was a number of very intelligent young women, holding miniature flags of the Republic bordered with rosettes, which they waved gently, in token of their love. A tasteful and pretty arch was constructed, under which the train passed. It was the handiwork of the ladies of the village, and most artistically interwoven with wreaths of evergreen and roses. On the top was a beautiful flag waving, the support of which was trimmed with green and black drapery, its base resting in a bouquet and surrounded by rosettes. On each side of the arch at the base of the curvature were portraits of the president, which were shrouded with black and white trimmings. The inscription, ‘Though dead he yet speaketh,’ was printed in large letters on white cloth, reaching across the arch where commenced the formation of the semi circle. As the funeral train slowly moved out, a choir of ladies and gentlemen, under leadership of Mr. Wilkins, a prominent citizen, sang with a sweet mournfulness the peculiarly appropriate hymn entitled ‘The Departed.’”

A Michigan City man, Edward Wilcox, was the engineer of the locomotive that pulled the train to Chicago over the Michigan Central System. Chicago was reached at 11 a.m. on May 1, an hour ahead of schedule.

The train arrived in Chicago at 11:00 A.M. and did not go the full distance to the Union Depot. It stopped on a trestle that carried the tracks out into Lake Michigan for some distance. Chicago's procession for Mr. Lincoln rivaled New York's in size and grandeur. The route went down Michigan Avenue, then Lake Street, and then Clark to Court House Square. The coffin was opened for public viewing at the Cook County Court House on Clark Street at 6:00 P.M. and lasted through the night and all the next day.


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