Thursday, April 30, 2015

150 Years Ago: April 29

The funeral train arrived in Columbus at 7:30 a.m. on April 29, 1865, almost exactly two weeks to the hour after Lincoln died. The coffin was taken hearse in a grand procession to the Ohio State Capitol and carried into the rotunda on the shoulders of eight members of the Veteran Guard. 

Roger J. Norton explains that "the catafalque in Columbus was different from all the rest on the trip in that it was without columns and canopies; it was just a low moss and flower covered dais." The website Touring Ohio provides more detail:
The bier, where the casket wold be placed, was covered with lilacs that had just come into bloom throughout the city. When the casket was lowered to the flowery bier . . . the 6' 6" long casket with Lincoln's body, crushed the lilacs in such a way that the room was filled with [the] smell of the fragrant lilacs. Although Lincoln's body had been embalmed before leaving Washington D.C., the process was not yet perfected and his body had already begun to deteriorate badly giving off a putrid odor that had to be masked by the floral arrangements. . . . A mortician also accompanied the body and applied chalk to Lincoln's face to mask the discoloration.
It is estimated that 8,000 people passed the coffin each hour that it was on view in Columbus. At 6 p.m., the doors of the Capitol were closed, and the coffin was taken back to Union Station. At 8 p.m., the funeral train departed for Indianapolis.

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