Calvin Borthwick

Abe Lincoln's Funeral
An Eyewitness account

A letter from Calvin Borthwick to his sister Eunice Aurelia Borthwick of Cornwallville, Town of Durham, Greene County. Calvin was enlisted in the 5th NYS Artillery.  This letter was contributed to the Durham Center Museum by Calvin Borthwick, grandson of the author of the letter. Graciously contributed to this website by the Durham Center Museum.

Hart Island, Wednes. April 26/65

Dear Sister -

Your letter came a few days ago and I would have answered sooner, but expected to go to the funeral of our late President in New York on the 25th ult. so concluded to wait until after that was past so as to give you a sort of description of the ceremonies, although it will be a poor attempt, I know. but perhaps it will be better than nothing.

There was 200 men went from this Party. 40 from each company. left in the morning at 8 o'clock on the John Romer and landed in New York at the foot of 8th Street East River & marched first to the left, then to the right & land knows where until we struck Broadway and Canal St. We then marched up Broadway a few blocks & formed in line along the street & waited for the procession to move. We were nearly the front ones in the procession & took the lead. at a little past one we started. We marched up Broadway to 14th Street & along that to 5th Avenue, up that to 34th St. along that a few blocks & again formed in line by the side of the street for the procession to pass. I wish (underlined) I could give you a faint idea of the funeral car & all the other things of that procession.

I must try to get a Herald to send to you. It will give you a better description that I can. --- The car was drawn by 16 horses which were led by darkies. The coffin was plainly to be seen & was a very beautiful one. The car was heavily trimmed with silver & the corners were neatly trimmed with flags etc.

I wish you took the Harpers Weekly, then perhaps you could see the pictures of some of the fine things. I cannot begin to describe it for words to give the correct idea I can't get hold of. If I could see you now, I could talk some about it & perhaps then I could get you to understand something of what I mean.   

I saw Gen. Scott & a number of other celebrated personages. besides lots of them not so celebrated. for it seemed as if everybody wanted to be seen & was there. The streets were lined as far as we marched. all the windows & tops of the buildings were perfectly jammed. It don't seem possible that there is so many men and women & ___ whats lots of young uns in New York.

We came back in the afternoon & were pretty tired & hungry but we got the name of being the best drilled military of any in the City.

The weather is very fine and I feel pretty well.

Write soon to Calvin

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