Search billions of records on Ancestry.com
   
Click on thumbnail for larger view!
END of
"NIGHTMARE for the DOOMED"
Chapter 14.


The 9 members of the Military Commission met secretly on 
Wednesday,  June 28th, 1865 and voted the Death by Hanging 
penalty for: [REF: # 5. pg204
GEORGE T. ATZERODT, age 33
DAVID HEROLD, age 21
LEWIS T. POWELL/PAINE, age Unk.
Mrs. MARY E. (JENKINS) SURRATT, age 48

There was a recommendation attached to the last page of their findings 
recommending mercy for Mrs. SURRATT because of her sex and age 
-- and her sentence was be changed to Life Imprisonment. [REF: # 5. pg204

The Commission voted Life Imprisonment, at hard labor for:
SAMUEL B. ARNOLD, age 31
Dr. SAMUEL A. MUDD, age 32
MICHAEL O'LAUGHLIN, age 25

EDWARD SPANGLER, age Unk. received 6 Months of Hard Labor.

President JOHNSON was ill on June 28th, 1865, so the Judge Advocate 
General  JOSEPH HOLT, could not take him the Sentence Recommendations 
for review and have the order for execution signed by him, until Wednesday, 
July 5th, 186 [REF: # 5. For those 7 days the prisoners sweltered in their 
hoods in the hot cells, Unknowing of what could be causing the delay, 
since the trial was over. [REF: # 5. pg204

President JOHNSON apparently did not read the whole long involved 
findings of the Commission; instead he had General HOLT summarize 
matters for him. President JOHNSON signed the Order of Execution 
for 4 of the prisoners, and imprisonment for 4, and he swore for the 
rest of his life that General HOLT had never shown him the recommendation 
for Mercy for Mrs. SURRATT. General HOLT spent the remainder of 
his life telling everyone, that he had discussed the matter with the 
President, saying "that Mrs. SURRATT kept the nest that hatched 
the egg, and that if women were to commit such crimes as hers and 
go free, then men would be tempted to use women as their tools for 
murder and no one would punished." [REF: # 5. pg204.

On the morning of Thursday, July 6, 1865, General WINFIELD SCOTT HANCOCK, 
who was in charged of the Military District, and General J. F. HARTRANFT, 
Commander in charge of guarding the prisoners, walked into the cells 
of the 4 condemned to death and read them their sentences. Mrs. SURRATT 
burst into tears -- she was alone at the time, with no one to comfort 
her, since her daughter ANNIE SURRATT had just left the prison. 
POWELL/PAINE was completely stoical - it was exactly what he expected, 
and wanted. HEROLD didn't seem to realize what he was being told, 
but after a few minutes asked to have his sisters sent for. [REF: # 5. pg205

Ministers were brought to the prisoners' cells to strengthen them 
for entrance into another world. Mrs. SURRATT had two Catholic priests. 
POWELL/PAINE had a Baptist clergyman and ATZERODT, a Lutheran. HEROLD's 
sisters arrived, crying -- most were grown up but 2 were just little 
girls -- young "misses" the papers said. One of them brought their 
brother a basket of small cakes which she had to leave with General 
HARTRANFT so he could examine them and be sure no poison or knives 
were hidden in the basket. [REF: # 5. pg205

The 4 prisoners GEORGE T. ATZERODT; DAVID HEROLD; LEWIS T. POWELL/PAINE; 
and Mrs. MARY E. (JENKINS) SURRATT, to be executed were moved down 
into the ground floor row of cells so they could walk out easily the 
next day -- and if it had not been for a part of the prison that extended 
forward a few feet at the South end -- they could have watched the 
building of the gallows which began immediately, and the digging 
of four graves, in the extremely, hard dried-out earth of the yard. 
The temperature was 100 in the shade, and there was no shade in the 
3 acre yard, surrounded by its 20 foot high brick wall.

The 4 other prisoners SAMUEL B. ARNOLD; Dr. SAMUEL A. MUDD; MICHAEL 
O'LAUGHLIN; and EDWARD SPANGLER, were told nothing. -- they were just 
kept hooded in their upper story cells under heavy guard, manacled 
and wearing ankle shackles. It was not until the next day, after the 
business of hanging the first 4 was over, that these remaining 4, 
who were to enjoy the happiness of future living were officially told 
of their sentences although Dr. MUDD had been sneaked the good news 
by his guard on the day before the execution. At first they were to 
have done their Life at Hard Labor at the Federal Prison in Albany, 
NY., Secretary STANTON changed this to a burning, bone-dry island 
off Florida which had a huge fort that had been used as a Prison during 
the Civil War. The Dry Tortugas, Florida, would be their address. 
[REF: # 5. pg206

When Miss ANNIE SURRATT, age 22 was found and told about her mother's 
death sentence, from then until 1:00 o'clock the next day, Friday 
(July 7th.) when the hanging took place she tried desperately to get 
at least an extension of 3 days to her mothers's life -- the carrying 
out of the sentence was so cruelly swift -- It was swiftly carried 
out sentences for which Military Courts were noted -- in Civil Courts 
appeals were possible -- but this was exactly what Secretary STANTON 
and President JOHNSON wanted. Since they considered the prisoners 
Guilty before the Trial began, now they wanted to get the whole 
thing over without argument. Miss ANNIE SURRATT, hysterical, weeping 
pitifully, rushed to the White House and begged to see President JOHNSON 
but was told he was ill and would see no one. Senator JAMES LANE of 
Kansas and PRESTON KING, President JOHNSON's ever present and most 
intimate friend, guarded the stairs on which Miss ANNIE SURRATT 
threw herself and made her sobbing entreaties. At last she went back 
to the prison, where she was allowed to sleep in the cell with her 
mother Mrs. SURRATT for that last night. [REF: # 5. pg206

Mrs. SURRATT, was very weak from her long imprisonment and she and 
Miss ANNIE fainted alternately and wept in each other's arms -- 
never slept all night -- just embraced and sobbed. [REF: # 5. pg206

On the morning of Friday, July 5th. 1865, it was still wickedly hot, 
in the high 90's before 8:00 o'clock, and already the crowds were 
gathering outside the Old Prison yard wall and boats were coming from 
Alexander, VA. and down from Georgetown and the city of Washington 
D.C. and the Potomac was crowded with sightseers hoping they would 
catch a glimpse of the hanging -- which they were never able to do, 
because of the 20 foot high prison walls. The people who had the best 
view were the soldiers who patrolled the top wall -- walking safely 
between ropes extending from the iron post to iron post, put there 
so they would not fall off into the rows of cannons below. [REF: # 5. pg206

By this morning of the 5th July the Gallows was built and the Executioner 
CHRIS RATH was constantly having it tested with 200 pound weights. 
It was lucky he did for one side struck and he had to make an adjustment. 
By 11:00 A.M. everything for the Gallows was fine -- the 13 steps 
leading up to the platform had been built, 4 nooses made of 20 strand 
rope, 1 1/2 inches in circumference, were hanging neatly from their 
overhead crossbeam. 4 chairs had been placed invitingly on the 20 
foot square platform which seemed so solid right now, but which had 
2 ominous divisions whereby when up-right timbers where knocked out 
from below the front portions, they would drop down and hang by their 
hinges and feet that had been standing there would be left with only 
air to stand on. Something had been added in the nearby grave area 
too - 4 rough looking wooden coffins. [REF: # 5. pg208
  
Beside the Military present, only 100 tickets to civilian spectators 
had been issued, and everyone asking for a ticket had to be convincing 
that he, or she, was not there through idle and ghoulish curiosity. 
Only one lady had applied for permission to be their and actually 
Dr. MARY E. WALKER was the only women Doctor in the Union Army, did 
not need a ticket as she was classed with the Military present. Dr. 
MARY E. WALKER was a character greatly looked down on by her hoopedskirted 
country- women as she insisted on wearing long pants under her short 
skirts. She shocked everyone on the Hanging Day by riding her horse 
to the Old Prison astride, like a man. [REF: # 5. pg208  

Early in the morning, Friday July 7th., 1865 Miss ANNIE SURRATT 
had gone to the White House to try to get to President ANDREW  
prevented her from climbing more than the bottom steps of the stairway. 
One women did get past them, though, and she carried Miss ANNIE's 
prayer in to President JOHNSON in his office. The Widow of STEPHEN 
A. DOUGLAS, tremendously wrought up in the injustice being done to 
what she felt was an innocent woman Mrs. SURRATT, she simply pushed 
and sailed pans KING and KANE and threw open the up-stairs door. Mrs. 
STEPHEN DOUGLAS, was a very beautiful, very tall and queenly woman 
with a tender heart and she had hoped to accomplish a miracle, but 
the President JOHNSON was immovable. [REF: # 5. pg208

Miss ANNIE SURRATT, now beside herself with weeping as the minutes 
were ticking away, left to go back to the Old Prison, a last effort 
was being made to save her mother, Mrs. SURRATT. Justice ANDREW 
WYLIE of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia had been prevailed 
upon to sign a writ of habeas corpus and this was to be rushed to 
the Old Prison. But President JOHNSON had a message there first saying 
that he invalidated the writ as a necessary measure under the circumstances. 
There was now nothing for General  HANCOCK  to do except announce 
the Execution would take p lace  immediately, though he still kept 
horsemen posted at intervals all the way from the Arsenal grounds 
to the White House -- in case the reprieve did come. [REF: # 5. pg209

The Defense Lawyers now went into the prisoners' cells and said good-by. 
The clergymen kept up a steady murmur of praying and now the relatives 
entered the cells for the last time. Earlier Miss ANNIE SURRATT 
has shrieked so loudly that she was heard all over the yard outside, 
but at the last people said she was so calm they thought she might 
have had a secret word of a Pardon for her mother. ATZERODT  had 
his elderly mother crying with him; HEROLD his bevy of sisters; Mrs. 
SURRATT, her Miss ANNIE; and POWELL/PAINE had no relative at all. 
His lawyer had sent to Florida for his Baptist minister father and 
if it had been a civil trial there would have been time for him to 
get there -- but with the Military Commission's feverish haste to 
hang, it was impossible. [REF: # 5. pg209

A few minutes before 1:00 P.M. on Friday, July 7, 1865 the procession 
of prisoners came out of the Old Prison doors: "first Mrs. SURRATT, 
supported on each side by an officer, as she was more half-dead when 
she was hung. She wore a black bonnet covered with a black veil and 
a black dress which hung limply out of style, but it would have hardly 
been the thing to wear hoops to this dance of death. Two Priests walked 
with her, one with a cross held over his heart, the other reaching 
back every few steps to press his cross against Mrs. SURRATT's lips. 
4 Soldiers guarded her so that she could not escape on the journey 
up the 13 steps, and when she was seated in her chair on the platform, 
an umbrella was held solicitously over her head to fend off the near 
boiling sun-rays."

HEROLD, POWELL/PAINE, and ATZERODT, each with his entourage of guards, 
followed. [REF: # 5. pg209

ATZERODT had wept and prayed all night and HEROLD had trembled, but 
it was said the POWELL/PAINE slept excellently, and now he was the 
prisoner all eyes were drawn to in wonder. He walked in, people said, 
as though he were a young king going to his coronation, erect and 
proud, and an altogether magnificent- looking young man. If only, 
the papers said the next day, all this could have been enlisted for 
good instead of evil. On the scaffold POWELL/PAINE thanked his guards 
and said what he had been saying every day since his capture, "Mrs. 
SURRATT in innocent. She doesn't deserve to die with the rest of 
us.!" On the way through the courtyard in a sudden prankish instant 
he had snatched a straw hat from a bystander's head and was now wearing 
it with those out-of-character dimples showing beneath. [REF: # 5. pg210

General HARTRANFT  read the order for the Execution and then all 
Four of the condemned stood while their arms were pinned behind them 
and their legs bound. Mrs. SURRATT's arms were drawn back uncomfortably 
and she evidently mentioned it -- the binding was redone, more loosely. 
All Four had white sacks put over their heads and the nooses were 
adjusted around their necks. When Executioner RATH personally adjusted 
POWELL/PAINE's noose, POWELL/PAINE noticeably stretched up his neck 
as though to be helpful. RATH said low to him, "I want you to die 
quick," and POWELL/PAINE replied cheerily through his white sack, 
"You know best!" POWELL/PAINE stood straight and tall as a heroic 
stature during the 10 seconds that remained -- Mrs. SURRATT was 
murmuring, "Please, don't let me fall!" -- HEROLD was visible shaking 
as well as one could shake as trussed up as he was and ATZERODT cried 
out in his thick German accent just before the drop, "Good-by, gentlemen. 
May we all meet in the other world!" [REF: # 5. pg212

At 1:00 P.M. on Friday, July 7, 1865 General HANCOCK clapped his hands 
twice and at the second clap, by arrangement, the two soldiers below 
and at the back of the platform rammed the support posts with two 
long poles and knocked them down. The front part of the platform swung 
down on its hinges and the four bodies jerked down about 5 feet -- 
not enough to break POWELL/PAINE's bull-strong neck and he had to 
strangle. It took about 5 minutes and the crowd could see a portion 
of his neck which was exposed and his wrists turn purple. Everyone 
thought Mrs. SURRATT had died instantly. She just swung and twirled 
-- perfectly quiet. [REF: # 5. pg213

HEROLD, who had been called the silly boy all through the trial, 
was the most frightened on the scaffold and he stayed alive after 
the hanging longer than the others, trying to draw his body up repeatedly 
so there would not be so much weight on his neck. People noticed that 
ATZERODT's stomach heaved repeatedly as he hung there, but they judged 
his the second earliest death after Mrs. SURRATT. When the bodies 
were still, ALEXANDER GARDNER, who had been taken pictures with his 
big camera set up in various positions around the yard, now photographed 
the four limp bodies. Spectators were now asked to leave, and they 
went outside the Old Prison to a crowd that was regaling itself with 
lemonade and cakes. [REF: # 5. pg214

At 1:30 P.M., 1/2 hour after the hanging the dead were cut down and 
examined by Doctors as they lay stretched out on top of their coffins. 
All were satisfactory lifeless. Then without having their lightweight 
hanging-sacks removed, or arm & leg bindings, they were placed in 
their coffins and buried in the four waiting graves in the Old Prison 
yard.

As the earth was being packed and smoothed over them, Executioner 
RATH was already dividing the rope into suitable lengths for relics, 
and writing out affidavits. He sawed up the Gallows timbers into 
neat foot-long mementos suitable for paperweights or other interesting 
additions to a family's mantelpiece or parlor table. [REF: # 5. pg214

End of Chapter 14.


BACK
The Conspirators Index
 
Chap.
F.Name
L.Name
b. d.
Subject
01.
Abraham
Lincoln
1809-1865
Profile
02.
John W.
Booth
1838-1865
Profile
03.
John W.
Booth
1838-1865
Pursuit, Death & Burial
04.
The
Conspirators
 
Trial of the Assassins
05.
Samuel B.
Arnold
1834-1906
Profile
06.
George T.
Atzerodt
1832-1865
Profile
07.
David
Herold
1844-1865
Profile
08.
Samuel A.
Mudd
1833-1933
Profile
09.
Michael
O'Laughlin
1840-1867
Profile
10.
Lewis T.
Powell
18??-1865
Profile
11.
Edward "Ned"
Spangler
18??-18??
Profile
12.
Mary E. (Jenkins)
SURRATT
1817-1865
Profile
12.1
Mary E. (Jenkins)
SURRATT
1817-1865
Genealogy FGS
13.
John H., Jr.
SURRATT
1844-1916
Profile
13.1
John H., Jr.
SURRATT
1844-1916
1870 Lecture
13.2
John H., Jr.
SURRATT
1844-1916
Genealogy FGS
14.
The
Conspirators
 
End of Nightmare for the Doomed!
15.
The
Conspirators
 
Notes & Reference

E-Mail: Paul R. Sarrett, Jr., Auburn CA.

Text - Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 20000 Paul R. Sarrett, Jr.
Created: Dec. 01, 1996; Revised: Feb. 25, 2000