Warren County Historical Society Presents …

The Digital Version “REWIND”

October 15, 2017

 

 

 

 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND UPSTATE NEW YORK

 

     Upstate New York, including Albany and Warren County, have a connection to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  The Albany connection is told in a newspaper article found in a scrapbook of clippings someone in the Town of Warrensburg kept in the early 1900s.  While the name of the newspaper that ran the article is not known, the article is dated April 14, 1914.  The newspaper article is copied here as it appears in the clipping:

SCHENECTADY MAN SAW LINCOLN SHOT

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Well Known Physician Tells of the Crime

Which He Witnessed.

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FORTY-NINE YEARS AGO

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Tragedy enacted in Ford’s theatre in Washington, April 14, 1865 – Audience Stunned – Assassin Escaped

 

Robert M. Fuller, M. D. of 14 North Ferry street, Schenectady, is one of those who sat in Ford’s Theatre at Washington forty-nine years ago last night when J. Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln, leaped on the stage and made his escape only to be captured twelve days later after Sergeant Boston Corbett of a New York cavalry regiment had shot him, inflicting a wound which caused his death within a few hours.

Dr. Fuller was graduated from Union college in the class of 1863 and in 1865 he was engaged as assistant to Dr. Armsby at the Ira Harris United States hospital at Albany.  An Albany man, who had been wounded and who was in one of the government hospitals at City Point, near Washington, was thought by his friends to be in a condition to be brought north and Dr. Fuller, then scarcely more than a boy, was sent to Washington to bring him back.

Arriving at the national capital and not having anything in particular the night of April 14, Dr. Fuller inquired as to the largest theatre and was directed to Ford’s, where Miss Laura Keene was playing in “Our American Cousin.”  President Lincoln entered his box accompanied by Mrs. Lincoln, Miss Harris of Albany and Major Rathbone, also of Albany.  As the President entered his box a round of applause swept over the audience which was responded to with bows.  The curtain went up and the play proceeded.

Suddenly a shot rang out, there was a flash in the President’s box and a little wisp of smoke curled upward. A man leaped from the box to the stage, catching his foot in the bunting, which decorated the rail, as he jumped.  Springing to his feet again, Booth, for it was he, waved a knife in the air as he shouted, “Sic Semper Tyrannis, Revenge for the South,” and fled thru the wings to the horse which was waiting for him at the stage entrance of the theater.

Dr. Fuller, like many other men in the theatre that night, was armed.  As the shot rang out the ire arose, “The President is shot.” Followed by “Kill him, kill him.”  Stunned for the minute, not fully comprehending the tragic events which were taking place beneath their eyes, no one moved for a brief space in which Booth, who had relied on this very effect, had made his escape, in spite of his broken leg.

Dr. Fuller, in common with most of those in the theatre, when Booth had disappeared, thought he would go to the presidential box and see how seriously the President was hurt.  He found the crowd coming from the box and that someone was behind, driving everyone out.  Finding that there was little to learn there, Dr. fuller went to his hotel, the Willard.  There was no sleep in Washington that night, however.  The air was filled with rumors.  The details on the attempts on the lives of Seward, Stanton and other members of the cabinet, as well as on Vice President Johnson, were slow in becoming known and everything was exaggerated as it passed from one excited person to another.

The next day Dr. Fuller, by the exercise of boyish spirit and insistence, secured his pass to go to City Point.  At the boat, however, he encountered delay, as no one was allowed to leave Washington.  He finally reached the hospital where the wounded man he sought was, but the man was not able to be moved and Dr. Fuller spent several weeks in and around Washington.

 

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Another clipping on the same scrapbook page also included the following connection to Albany in this item, dated April 15, 1914:

TODAY IS THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF LINCOLN

 

Today is the forty-ninth anniversary of the death of Abraham Lincoln, who was fatally shot forty-nine years ago last night by John Wilkes Booth in Ford’s Theatre in Washington.  The funeral train with the body of the President passed through Albany on its way to Springfield, Ill.  The body was placed in state at the old Capitol for a short time.

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We also find a Warren County connection to President Lincoln’s assassination.  For this connection we turn to  Warren County (New York):  Its People & Their History Over Time, published by the Warren County Historical Society in 2009.  In chapter 7, “The Civil War Years,” we find the following:

John Millington

John Millington, a native of Chestertown, New York, participated in the capture and killing of Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth.  He enlisted in the 93rd Regiment NY Infantry, Company E on December 3. 1861.  He became ill and, on February 27, 1863, received a disability discharge.  After recovering at home, on July 21, 1863 at Plattsburgh, New York, Millington re-enlisted with the 16th NY Cavalry, Company H.

 

Private John Millington

After the war, Millington moved to Portland, Oregon and, in early February 1937, the Portland Journal published a three-part series about Mr. Millington from notes given sometime before his death (in November 1914) to Professor C. Lewis Barzee.  In those notes, Millington relates how his company was ordered to Washington as a military escort for President Lincoln’s funeral.  On April 24, 1865, he had just returned from a patrol and, before he could finish eating, “’boots and saddles’ was sounded.”  Shortly thereafter, Millington was on the steamer John S. Ide in pursuit of John Wilkes Booth.

 

Arriving at the Garrett Farm, he was “with the party sent to the barn” where Booth was shot and which was torched after Booth refused to come out.  Millington also explains that “Booth’s body, wrapped in a government blanket was placed in a wagon.”  Unconscious, Booth was carried to the Garrett Farm’s porch where he died a short time later.

 

 

 

                     

Reward Poster

 

 

John Wilkes Booth

 

 

 

 

 

Millington guarded David F. Harold (the man traveling with Booth) who had come out of the barn before the fire.  He further explained that, when he was relieved of his duty, he “was cold, as [he] had no overcoat and went below and lay down near the boiler and slept until [they] arrived near one of the monitors (iron clad vessel) in Washington.”  His Lieutenant ordered Millington to “help carry Booth’s body aboard the monitor.”  Millington was “tired and hungry and much more interested in getting to barracks for a good meal and a good sleep than knowing what was to become of Harold and Booth’s body.”

 

Millington is buried in the Grand Army Cemetery, Portland, Oregon.

 

 

The reference information for the specific quotes can be found on page 215 of the Warren County history book mentioned above.

 

 

 

 

All images were found on the internet at Google Images

The material for this column was compiled by Warren County Historian Stan Cianfarano for the Warren County Historical Society.

 

 

 

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