Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Announcement of President Abraham Lincoln's Assassination in Pelham, NY on April 15, 1865

Hart Island, near City Island, once was part of the Town of Pelham.  During the latter part of the Civil War, Hart Island was used to house Confederate Prisoners of War.  There is an interesting published account of the announcement made to the Confederate prisoners on April 15, 1865 of President Abraham Linconln's assassination. 

Daguerreotype of Abraham Lincoln Probably Taken
in Springfield, Illinois on Sep. 23, 1858 by Christopher
S. German, From a Private Collection.

In about the end of February, a regiment of the 143rd Pennsylvania Infantry, known as the Iron Brigage, was separated and detailed for guard duty at Confederate prisons in the north.  Captain Patrick DeLacy's regiment was ordered to Hart Island, in the Town of Pelham, New York, to guard nearly 4,000 Confederate prisoners of war. 

The account of the announcement of President Lincoln's murder is quoted below, followed by a citation to its source.

"Upon the night of the assassination of President Lincoln, Captain DeLacy was officer of the guard, and remained on duty until nine o'clock of the morning of April 15th, 1865.  Captain DeLacy, soon after sunrise on the forenoon of that sad day, was on his way to the officers' mess, and before he arrived there he heard the rumor that Lincoln had been shot, and after procuring a copy of the 'New York Herald,' he returned to the rebel camp, and with a young Confederate drummer boy, went to the middle of the prison campus and ordered him to beat the assembly, which aroused the camp, and soon he was surrounded by acres of men, and there on a box he announced the death of the nation's great War President, and read an account of the same from the columns of the newspaper, which he still keeps as a sacred memento of one of the most mournful events in American history.  After the Captain got through, there was a profound silence, which was not broken until a hand was raised and a Confederate in a loud voice shouted, 'Officer!  Officer!  We do not endorse assassination,' and at the same time up went the hands of thousands of rebel comrades.  Soon another with raised hand cried out, 'Officer!  Officer!  We have lost our best friend; Old Abe would forgive us,' and still another exclaimed, 'Officer!  Officer!  The North will now persecute us.'  To this the Captain responded, 'You my Confederate friend over their, do not for a single moment entertain the thought that the North will persecute you for the fiendish act of the lunatic, crank or assassin, whose wicked hand has struck down the sincere and humane friend of the South, Abraham Lincoln.'"

Source:  Jordan, John W., DeLACY, Captain Patrick, Distinguished Soldier, Honored Citizen in Encyclopedia of Pennsyvlvania Biography, Vol. III, p. 756 (NY, NY:  Lewis Historical Publishing Co. 1914)

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