Primary Source: "Funeral Honors," Indianapolis Daily Gazette, May 1, 1865
Image from Historic Indianapolis at http://historicindianapolis.com/president-abraham-lincolns-last-stop-in-indianapolis/
Indiana newspapers posted long and detailed articles about not only the funeral procession, but also Lincoln’s lying in state at the capitol building. The following is a transcription from the Indianapolis Daily Gazette’s May 1, 1865 coverage of the funeral ceremony at Indianapolis. The article notes details about the decorations, the casket, the music played, and the changing of the guards. Most interestingly though, it mentions the reactions of the people. One passage that stands out concerns the sense of personal loss felt by many African American mourners. Read the entire article below.
“Funeral Honors,” Indianapolis Daily Gazette, May 1, 1865, 2, accessed Indiana State Library, microfilm.
On the reception of the Remains of
Late President of the United States
The ceremonies yesterday in honor of
will be remembered as the great event in the lives of those who participated in them. The archways and mourning festoons across the streets, the public and private buildings draped in the habiliments of grief, the funeral procession, the solemn dirges, and, above all, the patient multitude that stood for hours in the drenching rain waiting an opportunity to look upon the earthly tenement so lately vacated by the spirit, all proclaimed the love with which the nation regarded him. Most unfortunately for the thousands in attendance it began to rain just after the arrival of the train, which greatly marred the arrangements for the day.
The city was a busy scene Saturday night, the front of the State House, the arches, and the stores from one end of Washington street to the other swarmed with men who were busy as bees in decorating and dressing for the occasion.
Train To Meet The Remains
At 8 o’clock a train started to the State line to meet the funeral train and attend it to the city. The Governor and staff officers, Mayor Craven, and a large number of distinguished gentlemen of the State and city, went out on this train. The depot at Richmond was appropriately draped, and on the arrival of the funeral train at 2 o’clock Sunday morning, fully five thousand persons were assembled. Indeed, at all points on the route from Columbus to this city, immense crowds gathered about the depots, and every demonstration of respect paid the illustrious dead that could be under the circumstances. At Richmond Governor Morton got on the Funeral train and came on it to the city. It was expected and intended that the train out from this city should precede the funeral train to the city; but by some blunder it was put on the wrong track and the latter was obliged then, by the regulations to keep one hour behind, and did not arrive at the city until the procession was moving to the State House. Beyond this little mishap, and the consequent disappointment everything was well managed, and the trip was pleasant and interesting.
The Funeral Train
The Train was made up of sleeping cars, the finest in the country, and uniformly draped. The chief persons of the escort occupied the splendid Director’s Car of the P. W. & B. R. R., one of the finest we have ever seen.
The Funeral Car
But the chief attraction of all was the funeral car, which has borne the remains thus far from Washington, and is designed to bear them to the hero’s western home. It was built by Mr. Jamison, of Alexandria, for the United States military railroad, and was intended for the President and other dignitaries when travelling over the military road. It contains a parlor, sitting room and sleeping apartment, all of which are fitted up in the most approved modern style. – Around the top of the stateroom small panels are fixed, upon which are painted the coats-of-arms of each State. The car has sixteen wheels, eight on each side. Black curtains have been placed at all the windows inside and out, the car is robed in black, the mourning outside being festooned in two rows, above and below the windows, while between each window is a slip of mourning connecting the upper with the lower row. – A deep silver fringe also hangs from the edge of the roof, and the festoons of crape are looped over each window with a silver star and large silver tassel. The remains of the President are placed on a plain stand in the rear apartment of the car, and those of little Willie Lincoln on a similar stand in the other end of the car. An anchor, the emblem of hope, made of evergreens, was suspended over Mr. Lincoln’s coffin, and heavy drapery hung around.
Arrival At The Depot
Soon after sunrise the crowd began to assemble at the Depot, and by the time the train had arrived, the streets on every side were crowded with people anxious to honor the remains of the illustrious dead. The funeral cortege was formed as soon as possible, and moved to the State House, passing between the lines of soldiers extending from the depot to the State House steps. As the corpse was put in the hearse the band played Lincoln’s Funeral March, a solemn and appropriate composition. The procession in carriages moved in the following order. Relatives and family friends – Guard of Honor – Congressional Committee – Illinois Delegation – Governors Stone, of Iowa, Brough, of Ohio, and Morton, with their Staffs – Guard.
Arrival At The State House
As the hearse turned into the entrance to the State House Park the band stationed in the gallery of the archway, played the Old Hundredth. The Rotunda was cleared of spectators, and Gov. Morton and General Hooker passed in, the General taking a hasty survey of the preparations. He expressed his satisfaction with the arrangements in warm terms, and pronounced them superior to any that he had seen elsewhere. The hearse was driven to the steps and the coffin was borne in on the shoulders of a guard of Veterans, Gov. Morton, Gen. Hooker, and other officers standing at the head of the dais. As the coffin was set down, the choir of singers above the canopy began the solemn anthem, and as the touching strains swelled majestically beneath the dome, the lid of the coffin was laid back and the mortal remains of Abraham Lincoln revealed to the sorrowful assemblage. The first watch of the Guard of Honor was then set, and after a beautiful dirge by the Mannerchor, the singers came down the stairs and looking upon the corpse passed out.
The coffin is got up on a scale of unsurpassed magnificence and grandeur, Its entire cost has been about $2,000, and it is undoubtedly the most beautiful thing of the kind ever manufactured in this country. The timber used in the construction is mahogany, which is also lined with lead. The inside of the coffin is lined with box plaited satin, the pillow and lower surface is of the finest description of white silk, and the whole is surrounded with chenille, as its fringe. The inside of the face lid is raised with white satin, the center piece is trimmed with black and white silk braid, fastened at the four corners with silver stars. The upper third of the lid is thrown back so as to reveal the head and bust.
The most rich and costly description of black cloth covers the outside. It is heavily fringed with silver, having four silver medallions on either side, in which are set the handles. All along the sides it is festooned with massive silver tacks, representing drapery, in each fold of which glitters a silver star. The edges are decorated with silver braid, having tassels each five inches in length. Upon each side are four massive handles, also of silver, and at the head and foot are stars of the same material. On the top is a row of silver tacks, extending the whole length a few inches from the edge. In the center is a silver plate, on which is the inscription:
Sixteenth President of the United States.
Bor[n] February 12, 1809
Died April 15, 1865
This is encircled by a shield formed of silver tacks. The whole thing is really beautiful, and finished with exceedingly good taste and fine workmanship.
The platform on which it stood was covered with garlands and flowers, and many Floral offerings were placed upon the upturned lid by ladies passing through.
The Procession through the State House
The troops, which had closed up and followed the hearse into the park, now passed through the State House with arms reversed. They entered the hall in double file and separating at the foot of the bier passed[?] of either side, taking a momentary look at the face of the late President.
The Sunday Schools
As soon as the soldiers had all passed, the column of Sunday School children entered the Hall. To enable the children to see the remains a platform with inclined ends was laid down on either side of them and they passed through the rotunda four abreast. In the mean time it had been raining steadily and the immense crowd of women and men in the streets fell into line with the schools and passed through the State House in a rapid stream. We timed the procession at various times, and the lowest number passing in a minute was 104, when the schools first began to go through and before the marshals had got the hang of crowding them. After the little folk had got through, and the crowd was mostly of men it passed through at the rate of 140 per minute. From twenty minutes before 9 when the schools first began to go through, until 4 o’clock the stream of anxious spectators was continuous and 60,000 persons passed the rotunda which with the troops who had passed through before and those who came in after that hour made not less than 75,000 persons who visited the remains in this city.
The State House
The ornamentation and drapery of the State House was complete. The elegantly papered walls were hung with garlands and wreaths in the most tasteful manner. One garland of evergreens was stretched along just below the ceiling, and beneath this the wreaths were arranged, and around them on the under side other garlands hung in graceful festoons. Within the wreaths were portraits of Lincoln and the principal soldiers and statesmen of the country, and all draped in mourning. On a temporary shelf in the door of the State Library stood a fine bust of Mr. Lincoln wreathed with a laurel. It was got up by T. D. Jones of Cincinnati. Two others of the same kind were placed in other doorways, and several busts of distinguished American statesmen. The bust of Washington stood on the platform at the head of the coffin, while several flags stood neatly grouped above and back of it. The sides of the Rotunda were enclosed in black curtains, and a beautiful pagoda shaped canopy overhead shut off the dome above and gave the place an imposing and magnificent appearance. It was studded with gilt stars which glistened in the gaslight, on the dark background like the stars in the deep blue vault of heaven on a clear winter’s night. The whole arrangement of the interior of the State House was complete and beautiful, and the taste and industry of Col. Frybarger cannot be spoken of too highly. He literally worked day and night in getting up the plans, and draughting them, and seeing them properly carried out by the workmen. He was ably seconded by Col. Sturm.
The columns in front and the doorways of the State House were also beautifully draped, and were in perfect accord with the work inside. The fence in front was covered with garlands and arched entrance ways erected at the corners of the Park, which were also suitably draped and hung with garlands, adding a good deal to the appearance of the grounds.
The entrance to the State House grounds was beautiful in design and finely finished. The sides and pillars of the structure were all draped in black and then hung with garlands and wreaths. Archways of garlands between the posts at the sides added greatly to its appearance. Near the top, was the inscription,
Indiana Mourns His Loss
The letters of it being formed of evergreen, nailed down with silver-headed tacks, were very unique and beautiful. The front of the structure was also very appropriate and neat. This too, was designed by Col. Frybarger. The State authorities have determined not to take down the decorations about the State House for thirty days.
The pouring rain which continued from 8 o’clock until near night rendered it necessary to give up the procession, and about noon the troops not required on duty were allowed to return to their camps. This was a great disappointment to the thousands who had made preparations for it, but it was impossible to have a procession in such a rain with such mud. There is no doubt from the preparations made that the procession would have been one of the finest ever seen in the West, and worthy the solemn occasion.
The Odd Fellows And Other Societies
A large number of Odd Fellows having assembled at the Hall before the order dispensing with the procession had been promulgated, it was determined to visit the remains in a body. About one o’clock under the direction of Marshal Lowe, they formed line and marched down to the State House. They wore no regalia, but with crape upon their arms, and measured tread, timed to the solemn notes of a dirge by the band, they presented an imposing appearance as they moved through the street and into the State House, the band playing.
One of the Hebrew Associations also turned out and went down with the Odd Fellows. They wore their regalia.
The colored Masons, and colored citizens generally, visited the remains in a body. They carried appropriate banners and presented a very respectable appearance. It was evident that they felt that they had lost their best friend.
In The Evening
The remains were kept open until 10 o’clock, and a large number of persons visited them. When the coffin was closed, Hahn’s band, which was in the second story of the Rotunda, played the Old Hundredth, and as the grand harmonies wailed through the dome and passed down upon the ear the soul of the listener was lifted in awe and reverence as he involuntarily thought of the heavenly hosts and their songs praise.
To The Depot
The corpse was preceded to the depot by Gens. Hooker and Hovey, with their staffs and the civic and military escort, and moved through the long lines of soldiers on the way. The latter were provided with torches and huge bonfires were also built at the crossings of the streets, lighting up the cortege and making a grand spectacle. The straight lines of the soldiers with flaming torches, which were held perfectly quiet, the men standing like statues, was one of the finest sights we ever saw. Arriving at the depot, General Hooker, and the others in attendance entered the building with uncovered heads, and the coffin borne in on the shoulders of the guard was placed in its temporary resting place, the large assemblage uncovered and standing, in silence. Again the band played, the notes of the solemn dirge wailing upon the midnight air being the audible expression of the deep feelings of those assembled.
When the coffin has been placed on the train, the military were relieved from duty and returned to their camps. The military arrangements were complete, and reflected great credit upon General Hovey, the District Commander, and on General Stevens, under whose personal supervision the troops were during the day. The General has an eye for details, and never neglects anything left to his charge. The disposition of the troops in the morning and evening was excellent, and their bearing at all times soldierly. He was ably seconded by the commanders of the various regiments and battalions, and the members of his staff. Adjutant Wagner in particular is worthy of special mention, as a most trustworthy and competent officer. The duties of the most of the officers were such as to admit of their being relieved during the day, but he had special charge of General Stevens’ dispositions, and had to remain on duty all day. A company from each regiment or battalion was detailed for guard duty about the State House, and on account of the unpleasant weather the guard was relieved every hour, making it as pleasant as possible for the men. We have spoken of the fine appearance of the troops in the morning and at night as drawn up to permit the passage of the funeral cortege to the depot. It was remarked by every one how well they bore themselves. The admiration of the spectators would have been increased had they known that the men had been up from two o’clock in the morning. And as it was midnight when they left the city it must have been 2 o’clock this morning before they were snugly in their quarters again. The early start they took was necessitated by its being regular muster day for pay, and as it was impossible to make the muster during the day it had to be done before the troops started to the depot in the morning. The part taken by the soldiers in the ceremonies yesterday, and the manner in which their duties were performed, entitle both officers and men to the warmest commendations of every one, and we regret that we cannot spare space to do them full justice.
Decorations Of The City
The arches erected by the city were most beautiful structures, and finely arranged and trimmed. They consisted of a large arch in the center, and a smaller one on each side. The pillars were wrapped with crape and garlands, and the top of each was surmounted with beautiful black and white plumes, and very large plumes crowned the spaces of the main arch. The middle arch is about 30 ft. high, and 25 in breadth. The side arches were 12 feet broad. These arches were at the crossing of Illinois, Pennsylvania and Alabama streets, and were all most tastefully draped and ornamented. At regular intervals Washington street was spanned by black streamers tastefully looped, and relieved by rosettes and loops of white. The City offices in Glenn’s Block were splendidly draped and we regret that we cannot describe it in detail, with the beautiful designs on the Theater, Odd Fellows, Masonic and Temperance Halls. Also the business rooms on Washington street and many private residences on other streets. We can only say to day that everything was in splendid order creditable to the city and our liberal and patriotic citizens. A gentleman belonging to the train, and who has been with it from the time it left Washington, said that Washington street with its arches, pendants and draped buildings, was not second in appearance to anything that he had seen in any city on the route.
Many of the buildings had most appropriate mottoes. The street cars also were appropriately draped and a motto was on each. We shall speak of the mottoes and drapery of citizens more at length to morrow. We cannot spare the space to notice them as they deserve to day.
The Perfectness Of The Arrangements
The State and city officers, military authorities, and our citizens generally, are entitled to much praise for the perfect manner in which everything was done. Neither pains nor expense were spared to make everything just right, and nothing was lacking in any of the appointments.
We have alluded to the vocal and instrumental music once or twice in the foregoing account, but its excellence entitles it to special mention. The vocal music gotten up under the direction of Mr. Owen at a very late hour (for it was expected until Friday that others would provide the music), was very fine indeed. As Mr. Owen sat up nearly all night Friday night copying music to be sung and gave up his classes Saturday for the same purpose, he is entitled to more than ordinary acknowledgements. He was ably seconded by Mr. Kantman, leader of the Mannerchor, and Mr. Scheuerman, pianist. The singers who assisted him, and the Mannerchor, are entitled to much credit for the time cheerfully given in preparation, when they were made aware of its necessity. The music was a surprise to the funeral cortege, and as the remains were placed upon the dais, the notes of the invisible choir touched the hearts of the escort so deeply that several of them were moved to tears.
During the day and evening the bands played in the dome, and the beautiful selection of pieces were finely executed, and added very much to the solemnity of the occasion.
As midnight the funeral train took its departure for Chicago, the large assemblage of men and women following it with their eyes as long as it could be seen, and inwardly breathing, if not outwardly expressing, a prayer in behalf of him who now holds an equal place with Washington in the hearts of the people – Abraham Lincoln,
“Bear him to his Western home,
Whence he can four years ago;
Not beneath some mighty dome,
But where Freedom’s airs may come,
Where the prairie grasses grow,
To the friends who loved him so.
“Take him to his quiet rest;
Toll the bell and fire the gun;
He who served his country best.
He whom millions loved and blest,
Now has fame immortal won;
Rack of brain and heart is done.
“Shed thy tears. O April rain,
O’er the bed wherin he sleeps!
Wash away the bloody stain!
Drape the skies in grief, O rain!
Lo! A Nation with thee weeps,
Grieving o’er her martyred slain
“To the people whence he came,
Bear him gently back again.
Greater his than victor’s fame;
His is now a sainted name;
Never king had such a reign –
Never people had such pain.”