Seven days after his death, Abraham Lincoln's body began the long trainride home to Springfield. His photograph was affixed to the cowcatcher of the locomotive, and some 300 mourners filed onto the train for its departure from Washington. Willie Lincoln's body, the President's son who had died in the White house, was also on board.
The train was dubbed the Lincoln Special, and it drew huge crowds at every stop. Leaving Washington at 8:00 a.m. on April 21, 1865, it traveled the short distance to Baltimore where the coffin was viewed by more than 10,000 people in the span of three hours. From Baltimore it traveled to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where some 40,000 people lined the streets to pay their respects.
That crowd was dwarfed at the next stop, however, which was Philadelphia. There, on April 23, more than 300,000 passed by the open coffin, with waiting times as long as five hours at the peak of the viewing.
The next day found the Lincoln Special in New York, where the coffin was placed on public view in City Hall. More than 500,000 paid their last respects in the rotunda. The next day, Lincoln's body was borne through the streets of New York, again to huge crowds, to the Hudson River Railway Terminal. It is said that enterprising opportunists rented their windows along the route for as much as $100. One of the spectators was six year old Theodore Roosevelt, destined to become the nation's leader himself one day.
From New York the Lincoln Special rolled slowly through New York state, with crowds lining the railroad tracks for one last look. When it reached Buffalo, another 100,000 people gathered to pay their respects, including former President Millard Fillmore and future President Grover Cleveland.
From Buffalo it was on to Cleveland, where the coffin was placed in Monument Square, the only outdoor viewing along the entire funeral route. Here, 150,000 attended the viewing before the train left for Columbus in a heavy rain. From Columbus it traveled to Indianapolis, where the rain was so heavy that an outdoor procession had to be cancelled. In Richmond, Indiana, 15,000 mourners came out when the train entered the station. This was more than the population of the entire town, even though the time was 3:15 a.m.
There was no cancellation when the train reached Chicago on May 1, however. There, the funeral procession though the streets was nearly as large as that of New York's, and 7,000 mourners passed the coffin every hour it was on view. It was reported that the body was now beginning to deteriorate to the point where many of the viewers were visibly distressed at its appearance.
The train reached Springfield on May 3, where Lincoln's body was placed in the Hall of Representatives in the State House. Ironically, it was in this same room that he had given his famous House Divided Speech just seven years earlier.
The next day, the day of President Lincoln''s burial, was hot and humid. The coffin was placed on a beautiful hearse sent from St. Louis. Major-General Joseph (Fightin' Joe) Hooker led the procession, which wound its way through the city of Springfield to Oak Ridge Cemetery. Behind the hearse followed Old Bob, the President's horse. Mary Todd Lincloln, the first lady, was too distraught to leave Washington, and was not in attendance.
At the grave site the oration was given by Bishop Matthew Simpson, followed by the benediction, which was given by Dr. P. D. Gurley. Inside the tomb, two coffins were visible: the late President and his son, Willie. With the service ended, the tomb was closed, and the nation sadly said good-bye.
The Assassination of Lincoln