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Lincoln's Assassination

Lincoln's Assassination

The celebration of the war’s end had barely begun when New Jersey and the nation were shocked by the assassination of Abraham Lincoln on April 14. Lieutenant John J. Toffey of the Thirty-third New Jersey Volunteers was at Ford’s Theater the night that President Lincoln was shot. Wounded at the battle of Missionary Ridge, Tennessee, Toffey was sent to Washington Hospital where he remained for over a year. In this letter, he describes the scene to his parents in Jersey City.

"A shot was fired, I took no notice of it neither did any of the audience, as it was thought to be part of the performance, till we saw a man leap from the Presidents Box and light on the stage he lingered a second and then shot off like an arrow every one was struck with astonishment until he had disappeared behind the scene when it was announced that the President was shot….

Mayor James Hood. Proclamation. Bridgeton, New Jersey: G.F. Nixon, April 18, 1865.

Reverend Henry P. Thompson. "Address on the Death of Abraham Lincoln," May 3, 1865.

Reverend Thompson extemporized this sermon after hearing of Lincoln's assassination.

Walt Whitman. "Hush'd Be the Camps To-day." Poem. April 19, 1865.

Born on Long Island in 1819, American poet and journalist Walt Whitman served as a volunteer nurse during the Civil War, an experience he recounted in “The Great Army of the Sick," published in a New York newspaper in 1863. After a stroke towards the end of his life, he moved to Camden, New Jersey, where he died in 1892. Whitman’s Civil War poetry included Beat! Beat! Drums! (1861) and the famous O Captain! My Captain! (1865). After hearing of Lincoln’s death, Whitman penned Hush’d be the Camps Today, seen in manuscript here, in haste, and added it to the end of Drum-Taps (1865).

Portrait, Colonel Stephen Moore. Photograph. ca. 1865.

The black armband worn by Colonel Moore is possibly in mourning of President Lincoln. Moore was with the Third and later the Eleventh New Jersey Infantry.