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Author Topic: a question about the execution of the Conspirators  (Read 2575 times)
Steven G. Miller
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« on: December 17, 2011, 06:38:05 PM »

Where the handcuffs and leg irons removed from the four executed conspirators, or were the buried with them still on?
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BoothBuff
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« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2011, 07:19:01 PM »

     They were tied with strips of white cloth, no?
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Steven G. Miller
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« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2011, 07:35:18 PM »

If i remember correctly, Barry & John wrote about the Lily irons that Payne & Herold were wearing on the drops and made a comment that Atzerodt had handcuffs.
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J Madonna
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« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2011, 07:53:32 AM »

Wasn't Payne's skull found in the Smithsonian a few years back?
Did he still have his hood on?
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Randal
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« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2011, 08:01:49 AM »

If Powell was wearing a ball and chain, how on earth did he get up those steps?
I can hear the jokes now, "don't drop the ball"
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Steven G. Miller
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« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2011, 08:26:17 AM »

Betty O. can answer the question far better than I can. But the pix of Powell's skull I've seen show no hangman's cap, but someone did paint an acquisition number on this bones.
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Joe Gleason
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« Reply #6 on: December 18, 2011, 12:50:35 PM »

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Joe Gleason
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« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2011, 04:08:12 PM »

Great images, Joe!  Thanks a bunch.  

Thanks Betty.  Smiley    Just wondering  Huh.....  with the arms and legs already in irons, why would they tie the strips of cloth around them?
« Last Edit: December 19, 2011, 04:32:24 AM by Joe Gleason » Logged
Houmes
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« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2011, 01:09:36 AM »

I have always assumed that it was to make them more of a dead weight -- one solid lump, if you will, to fall harder.
In Mrs. Surratt's case, they tied her dress down so her skirts wouldn't fly up in an unladylike manner...

Laurie and Betty are both correct.  With arms and legs bound the body is more "aerodynamic," making the forces of gravity stronger.  There's more stress on the neck, making it easier to break.  In addition, when extremities are secured against the body, the drop appears less grotesque.  The arms and legs are less likely to flail about--not that it did much good for Powell; in one account his legs jerked up spasmodically, and he looked like he was almost dancing and then sitting in a chair.  The same reasoning is why the victim is hooded--that way the audience doesn't have to see the face, which often becomes discolored and bloated, with eyes and tongue protruding.

Coincidentally, that's why every medical student in the first year anatomy class starts dissection on a cadaver placed face down.  It depersonalizes the body, making it easier to concentrate on learning.
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Joe Gleason
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« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2011, 07:08:42 AM »

A big thanks from me too!  Smiley   
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Randal
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« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2011, 08:54:57 AM »

From Capitolpunishment.uk.com

Execution protocols.
Protocols varied widely depending on the state or county in which the hanging took place.
In most states, during the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries, the sheriff of the county in which the defendant was sentenced officiated as the hangman but was seldom good at it as they typically carried out so few executions. This led to a lot of bungled hangings where the length of drop was not calculated correctly. Four styles of judicial hanging have been used in America.

The Short drop.
Up to the 1850's, most hangings were carried out with little or no drop - often less than a foot - the prisoner being hanged from a tree after being turned off the back of a cart, ladder or horse. This normally resulted in death by either strangulation or Carotid or Vagal reflex (pressure on the Carotid artery and or Vagal nerve which causes very rapid unconsciousness and cardiac arrest.)

Standard drop.
A standard drop of around 4-5 feet was used in many hangings during the later part of the 19th century and into the early 20th century. A drop of this distance was rarely sufficient to break the prisoner's neck and they died by strangulation although in a lot of cases were knocked unconscious by the force of the drop and the impact of the knot against the side of the neck. A standard drop of 5 feet was used for the Lincoln conspirators (see below) despite significant weight and size variations between the four prisoners.

Long drop.
This was based on the British and Canadian models and was used in the 20th century by some states. It involved dropping the prisoner an exact measured length which was calculated according to their weight and modified if required to take account of their physique. The force of the drop combined with the position of the knot below their left ear was designed to break the prisoner's neck and thus cause instant unconsciousness, followed rapidly by death. The US Army manual gives a table of drops (see below) and this was used for the three post 1977 hangings.
The prisoner is weighed prior to execution and their weight in pounds divided into 1020 to arrive at a drop in feet. It takes between half and three quarters of a second for the prisoner to reach the bottom of the drop, after the trap is sprung.

Table of drops:

Prisoner's weight lbs.
 Drop
 Prisoner's weight lbs.
 Drop
 
Up to 120
 8' 1
 170
 6' 0"
 
125
 7'10"
 175
 5'11"
 
130
 7' 7"
 180
 5' 9"
 
135
 7' 4"
 185
 5' 7"
 
140
 7' 1"
 190
 5' 6"
 
145
 6' 9"
 195
 5' 5"
 
150
 6' 7"
 200
 5' 4"
 
155
 6' 6"
 205
 5' 2"
 
160
 6' 4"
 210
 5' 1"
 
165
 6' 2"
 220 and over
 5' 0"
 

.

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Randal
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« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2011, 09:56:29 AM »

Betty O made a screen shot for me. The chart is easier to understand. Thanks Betty!



Uploaded with ImageShack.us
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Barry Cauchon
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« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2012, 01:31:17 PM »

Hi all: I wish I had been part of this conversation earlier. LOL

Based on the varying eyewitness accounts and photographic analysis from the Gardner photos, I can safely say that I believe all four prisoners were shackled with leg irons and chains on their ankles and Lilly Irons binding their wrists behind their backs. The photos show all three men wearing leg irons with chains. Mary Surratt's leg irons and chains, although reported in several eyewitness accounts, cannot be seen in any of the images due to the length of her dress.

Based on the photographic evidence in which Lilly Irons can be seen on Lewis Powell's wrists, as well as observing the 'splayed arm posture' of all four hanging prisoners, it is extremely likely that all four were restrained using Lilly Irons during the execution.

It is likely that the cloth strips made from a canvas tent (same material used for the execution hoods/caps) were used to hold the limbs tightly together in support of the other metal restraints employed. When I was on the set of The Conspirator, the Assistant Director stood on the scaffold and announced to the crowd of extras below: "Do you know why the legs of the conspirators were bound"? His answer was crass, but to the point: "So if they shit themselves, it would not escape". Subtle? No! But was he correct? It is likely that this may have been part of their thinking back then but then why bind the arms as well. Even if this was a consideration, the more likely reason was to ensure all the prisoners' limbs remained as much in control as possible during the drop.

Barry
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