City of Alexandria, VA
Page updated Dec 7, 2010 12:05 PM
Lincoln never road alive in rail care built for him
June 1, 1995
Excerpts from Miss Isabel Emerson’s diary, Alexandria, 1861-65:
Miss Emerson’s diary is dealt with in much greater detail in “Pen Portraits” by T. Michael Miller. The diary excerpts were first published in the Alexandria Gazette in 1924. They provide a vivid sense of being an Alexandrian during the Civil War and the effect of Lincoln’s assassination.
The personnel in the United States Military Railroad Station must have been stunned when they learned that their new rail car made for the president required conversion to a hearse. They were awaiting Lincoln’s reply to an invitation for a trial ride on April 15. Instead, he died the night before.
A pyramid-shaped catafalque was built by Myron H. Lamson to hold the silver-mounted coffin in the center of the rail car’s stateroom. Heavy black drapes, cords and tassels now adorned the room where rich red and green plush had once awaited the president.
For more information about the Lincoln car, see Bob Slusser’s paper published by the Alexandria Historical Society and call the Alexandria Archaeology museum at 838-4399.
While we do not expect to find an artifact as large as a rail car, the city archaeology excavation has begun on the grounds of the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. Call for information about Public Dig Days for the whole family.
Pamela Cressey is the Alexandria city archaeologist.