April 30, 1865-While the city was rejoicing over the fall of Richmond and the surrender of Lee, the news came that President Lincoln had been assassinated. Never withing the history of the city had such an excitement existed as was occasioned by this news. In almost an instant the news was spread over the whole city, and in another instant the streets were filled with an excited throng. Tears coursed down the cheeks of strong  men as they stood on the streets discussing this terrible event. Deep anger was at once aroused against all who had been known to be opposed to the war, and it required the most strenuous exertion of Governor Morton and other high officials to prevent a riot that would have destroyed the property and lives of the known Southern sympathizers…The city was dressed in mourning from one end to the other. The funeral cortege of the dead President was to pass through the city on its way to Springfield, and extensive arrangements were made to suitably receive it and pay due honor to this great statesman. The funeral train was expected to arrive here on Sunday morning, April 30, 1865. Governor Morton, together with his staff, members of the legislature and the city council went to Richmond to meet the train and escort it to the city Sunday morning came bringing with it a cold, ,drizzling rain, but before daylight thousands of people had congregated in and around the union depot to await the coming of the train. The immense crowd stood for hours talking in whispers. It seemed as if every one felt the awful solemnity of the occasion. At about seven o’clock the train slowly pulled into the station. The coffin was tenderly lifted from the car in which it h ad rested, and was slowly borne to the catafalque which had been constructed for the purpose of conveying the body through the streets and to the state-house where it was to lie in state. A procession followed in solemn silence except the funeral music discoursed by the band, and the low sobbings of the multitude who lined the streets. The whole city was elaborately decorated with funeral emblems.

Decorated for the arrival of President Lincoln's Body

The body was placed on a platform erected under the dome of the capitol, and the citizens for hours marched through the great hall of that building, and gazed upon the face of the man they  had learned to love, and whose guiding wisdom they would miss in the days to come. All day long and far into the night the throng continued its slow, and solemn tread. The falling rain seemed to have no influence in keeping any one away from the solemn scene. One of the most touching incidents of this occasion was the visit of the Sunday-school children of the city to view the remains. Proper arrangements had been made for their visit, and several thousands of them  marched through the state-house and poured out their tears as a loving tribute to the memory of the martyred president. At one time the procession of citizens desiring to see the remains reached from the statehouse doors for many squares up Washington Street and thousands stood in line, in the pouring rain for several hours, waiting for their turn to enter the portals of the state-house. While this vast throng of citizens was viewing the remains, funeral music was alternated between a band on one side and a choir of voices upon the other. A guard of honor, composed of the leading citizens and of army officers who were in the city, watched over the body. A little after midnight the doors of the state-house were closed and the body was taken again to the funeral train. It was estimated that fully 50,000 strangers were in the city on that day and that more than 100,000 persons passed through the state house.

One response to “President Abraham Lincoln’s Last Stop in Indianapolis”

  1. Geoff Coryell says:

    I have been fascinated by Lincoln since the days my dad would take me to the local library to read about him. Sadly, his funeral train appearance is one of the popular ties to history that the city has with Lincoln.
    Did the original statehouse lie on the exact location of the current statehouse? Also, what direction is the view facing in the 1865 photograph?

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