‘Crushed by our great loss’

Regina Shober Gray by [Edward L.] Allen, ca. 1860. Courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society, Item PP231.236
Regina Shober Gray’s[1] account of the aftermath of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination continues, although a hint of the return of normal life appears at the end of her 23 April entry.

61 Bowdoin Street, Boston, Monday, 17 April 1865: We have captured Mobile, with 3,000 prisoners & 300 cannon. We have long held its harbor & forts – now this, the last important Southern seaport, is in our hands. A few days ago how gladly we would have greeted this good news – now we are so crushed by our great loss, so stunned by the awful circumstances attending it, that we hardly give any heed to the new tale of success!

President Lincoln’s funeral takes place on Wednes’y April 19th! The anniversary of battle of Lexington – and of the firing on Mass. 6th in 1861, by the mob in Baltimore. Police researches have brought to light many proofs of complicity on the part of rebel leaders, with the murders; an extensive conspiracy is shown, having for its object the disabling and hampering the action of government by the murder of its principal officers, and the burning of its public offices, buildings &c. so that Gen. Grant has telegraphed to Richmond to have the Mayor,[2] Judge Campbell,[3] & other leading citizens and rebel officials arrested.

President Johnson will be less lenient toward those great criminals, the rebel leaders, than our kindly hearted, unsuspicious because himself so right-minded, President Lincoln; Johnson openly refuses to commit himself to any line of action [that] may interfere with having rebel leaders brought to condign punishment – and he is right. God & his country will sustain him there!

Sunday, 23 April 1865: On Wednes’y last at noon, while the funeral services for President Lincoln were taking place in the White House at Washington, all the churches throughout the land were opened for memorial services – and were thronged by sorrowing crowds. I went after some hesitation to our own “King’s Chapel;” hardly daring to trust myself, for one does not like to betray emotion in public – and I dreaded too, to wish adding to the nervous headache & prostration, that struck me down at the awful news.

I went after some hesitation to our own “King’s Chapel;” hardly daring to trust myself, for one does not like to betray emotion in public…

I was glad I went, however – Mr. Foote’s[4] funeral discourse was admirable, and the whole service comforting & strength giving… The church was well-draped in mourning – as are all, and indeed the whole city. It is touching to see, even in the poorest courts and alleys, some black streamer, however small & poor, to show how this awful crime and heavy national calamity stirs the deepest heart of the people.

The poor & the oppressed know well how kind and firm a friend they and their rights have lost, in this wide hearted, far-seeing, righteous Christian ruler; essentially a man of the people – the people in the anguish of his loss cry out “My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof!” May a double portion of his spirit, cautious but so firm of purpose, far-reaching yet so clearly practical, tenacious yet so tolerant, so patient, so genial, fall upon all to whom is given the heavy responsibility of seizing the helm his hand has dropped for ever!

In the afternoon of Wednes’y, citizens of various wards met & marched to dirge music, to the Common, where addresses were made &c.

It is proposed to raise a fund to purchase Ford’s theatre, raze it to the ground & erect a suitable monument there…

The President’s funeral cortege passes through Baltimore, Harrisburgh, Philad., where it lies in state to-day in Independence Hall, to New York tomorrow & thence by Albany, Buffalo, &c westward to his house in Springfield, Illinois. It is proposed to raise a fund to purchase Ford’s theatre, raze it to the ground & erect a suitable monument there to the martyred President. I hope it will be done. Also, a fund is to be raised to place Mrs. Lincoln & family in easy circumstances.

No word yet of the assassin Booth – though several false reports of capture have been excited to the public. Two of the conspirators are in custody – the one who stabbed Seward, and one other. The various rewards offered for Booth amount to much over $100,000 – and among those villainous enough to be accomplices in his desperate deed, some will prove no doubt unfaithful enough to betray him for a price.

News from Sherman to-day is very disappointing, as he has allowed a cessation of hostilities, in order to treat with Johnston[5] for his surrender on a basis of peace. President Johnson and Cabinet unanimously refuse to sanction such a course, demanding Johnston’s absolute surrender (a thing with which the peace has naught to do) before peace can be granted or thought of.

And Gen. Grant has been ordered to join Sherman at once – resume hostilities, and without meddling at all with terms of peace, to compel the surrender of Johnston’s army. Meanwhile though, this armistice gives the arch traitor, Jeff. Davis, and many of his mates a chance to escape into Mexico – and thence to Havana & Liverpool where they have invested large sums, the spoils of the people they have deluded & betrayed to ruin.

Dr. Pickman, Emily Parker’s widower, was married this week to Carrie Head;[6] he is a so-called reformed inebriate! poor man – and O, poor wife! Susie Sargent was married on Thursday to young Codman[7] and Miss Mudge on Tuesday to Charles Joy[8] – a gloomy bridal week. Susie Jackson’s engagement is out to Mr. Folsom;[9] a love affair of long standing, which has not run smooth, on acct. of the insanity in the gentleman’s family.

Continued here.



[1] Hedwiga Regina Shober (1818–1885) was married to Dr. Francis Henry Gray 1844–80. Entries from the Hedwiga Regina Shober Gray diary, R. Stanton Avery Special Collections.

[2] Joseph Carrington Mayo (1795–1872), Mayor of Richmond 1853–65 and 1866–68.

[3] Former Supreme Court associate justice John Archibald Campbell (1811–1889), who – with A. H. Stephens and R. M. T. Hunter – unsuccessfully negotiated to end the war at the Hampton Roads Conference on 3 February.

[4] The Rev. Henry Wilder Foote (1838–1889), rector of King’s Chapel 1861–89.

[5] Confederate General Joseph Eggleston Johnston (1807–1891).

[6] Caroline Louisa Head (1832–1887) married Dr. Benjamin Pickman on 17 April. He had previously been married for four months to Emily Taylor Parker (d. 1863).

[7] Susan Williams Sargent (1842–1898) married Richard Codman on 20 April.

[8] Marie Louise Mudge (1844–1939) married Charles Henry Joy on 18 April.

[9] Susan Cabot Jackson (1841–1871) married the Rev. George McKean Folsom in January 1867.

About Scott C. Steward

Scott C. Steward was the founding editor at Vita Brevis; he served as NEHGS Editor-in-Chief 2013-2022. He is the author, co-author, or editor of genealogies of the Ayer, Le Roy, Lowell, Saltonstall, Thorndike, and Winthrop families. His articles have appeared in The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, NEXUS, New England Ancestors, American Ancestors, and The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine, and he has written book reviews for the Register, The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record, and the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

One thought on “‘Crushed by our great loss’

  1. Thank you again, Scott. Is it true, or ‘fake news’ that J.Davis “and his mates” invested large sums of money in Liverpool and Havana? If so, were they personal funds or funds of the Confederate government?

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