Monday, April 27, 2015

150 Years Ago: April 27

Lincoln's  funeral train left Albany at 4 p.m. on April 26, and arrived in Buffalo at 7 a.m. on April 27. Upon arrival in Buffalo, the coffin was transported in a hearse drawn by six white horses dressed in black to St. James Hall, the Young Men's Association building. The Buffalo Morning Express reported:
The number of people along the line of march was immense--thronging all the available space on either side of the streets. The business places were all closed but every window and housetop was filled and covered with a mass of human beings. The crowd in the vicinity of St. James Hall, through the forenoon, was terrible and we heard of many cases of fainting on the part of ladies who were not able to stand the severe pressure brought upon them. Finally the throng was loosened and matters so arranged that free passage was given.

The coffin arrived at St. James Hall shortly before 10 a.m. and was placed on a double dais, erected for the purpose, "richly draped with black velvet with silver fringe and rosettes." The Buffalo Morning Express goes on to report: "A little after 10:00 o'clock, the lid was removed, and after some preparation by the embalmer and undertaker, exposed to public view."

That day in Buffalo, 100,000 people passed by the coffin. Among the mourners were former president Millard Fillmore and future president Grover Cleveland.

There was no elaborate funeral procession in Buffalo, because, not knowing at the time the funeral train would stop there, the City of Buffalo had staged at complete mock funeral on April 19, the day of Lincoln's actual funeral in Washington, D.C. Still, ten hours after the coffin was opened to public view, it was returned to the funeral train with appropriate pomp and solemnity.

The Buffalo Morning Express reported:
At quarter past 8:00 o'clock, the coffin was closed and arrangements made to escort the remains back to the depot. At half past, the procession moved towards the depot. The bands played solemn dirges and with the darkness of the night, all was wrapped in the deepest gloom. A large body of citizens followed to the last point, and only turned their footsteps homeward as they saw the remains deposited in the funeral car which was to bear them away. At a little after 10:00 o'clock, the funeral cortege and escort took the train which had been provided for them and went their sorrowful way to the West.
The next stop for the funeral train was Cleveland.

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