Peterson House - White House Body Bearers

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Barry Doohan:
While visiting the GAR Museum in Philadelphia, I came across an old, undated, framed article from (I believe) the Washington Times circa 1892. It was titled 'The Two Survivors of the Six Men Who Bore Lincoln's Body.  I can't recall reading these names on this site or in the Surratt Society newsletters. Nothing earth shattering but of some interest as it provides the soldiers names so I thought I would post a summary of the pertinent information.

"Of those six men who were detailed to carry the body of President Lincoln from the Peterson House on 10th Street where he died to the White House where he was prepared for burial, there are only two survivors. These are John E. Weaver of Philadelphia and William Reith of this city."

John Weaver apparently wrote a letter to the (Washington?) Times stating that he was one of the six men detailed to carry the body President Lincoln from the Peterson House to the White House on April 15, 1865.  Per Weaver, General Daniel Rucker directed Weaver, Reith,  Eli Morey, David Frantz, John Richardson, and Antonis Brigazzi who were assigned to the Quartermaster Department to perfrom this duty. Weaver states Rucker directed them to place Lincoln's body in the coffin, carry the coffin to the hearse, proceed to the White House, and dress the body. According to Weaver, when their assignment was completed, General Rucker gave to these six soldiers pieces of the linen shirt taken off Mr. Lincoln as 'souvenirs of the sad occasion'.

Elsewhere in the article it states that William Reith originally enlisted in 1861 for three months service in Company A, Eigth Battalion, District of Columbia Volunteers. Following this service, Reith enlisted (employed?) as an artificer in the Quartermaster's Department. At the time of this article, Reith was working as an upholsterer in DC. John Weaver originally enlisted as a Private in Company B of the 25th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. Weaver was originally from Harrisburg but settled in Philadelphia following the war. Post-war pictures of Weaver and Reith accompany the article.

I don't recall ever reading that soldiers dressed Lincoln's body following the embalming and would think that was part of the undertaker's duties.

The GAR Museum is open the first Sunday of the month and they also have speakers on those days. As for assassination related memorabilia, the museum is best known for the pair of handcuffs taken from Booth's trunk, and a piece of cloth from the Peterson House containing stains of Lincoln's blood. They also have a brick marked as coming from the Lincoln box at Ford's Theatre - did Boxes 7 and 8 back up to an exterior wall? It's been some time since I was at Ford's so I have no idea what was behind the wallpaper in the rear of the box.

rich smyth:
Hi Barry, Interestingly, John C. Weaver was also one of the 6 soldiers that claimed to have assisted in carrying the President from Fords to the Petersen house.

Barry Doohan:
I wasn't aware of it. I'll have to look whether any of the other soldiers named in the article were also listed as moving Lincoln from Ford's. I guess it's possible John Weaver enjoyed the notoriety / attention.

Roger Norton:
Barry and Laurie, many thanks for posting this information. I was looking through some books yesterday, and in many cases these names are overlooked and not included. One that does, however, is our good ol' friend, Osborn H. Oldroyd's. He names the men on p. 38.

Richard Petersen:
I am not familar with Lincoln being carried to the Peterson house; did you mean Petersen.

Sorry I couldn't resist. IF I had $5.00 for everytime my name was misspelled I would be a wealth person.


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