Warrenville and the American Civil War: The Assassination of President Lincoln

On April 9th, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. The end of the long war had finally arrived and those in Warrenville rejoiced that the surviving brave local men who had volunteered to fight for the Union would soon be coming home. Just five days later, on the night of Good Friday, April 14, 1865, an unthinkable tragedy occurred when President Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater.  President Lincoln died early the next morning, 150 years ago today.

President Lincoln on his deathbed,from Harper's Weekly, May 6, 1865

President Lincoln on his deathbed,from Harper’s Weekly, May 6, 1865

The news of President Lincoln’s assassination no doubt reached Warrenville with as much disbelief and horror as the news had been met with across the country. For the Warrenville volunteers with the Illinois 8th Cavalry, their final assignment was to help search for John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s assassin, who had escaped and was in hiding.

Warrenville's original Baptist Church.

Warrenville’s original Baptist Church.

In Warrenville’s Baptist Church, just two days after President Lincoln was shot, on Easter Sunday, Rev. S. W. Marston, expressed the grief of the Warrenville villagers in this poetic outpouring:

Our nation mourns the lose of one

A wise and honest Patriot Son

Our President-first in the land,

Has fallen by the assassin’s hand.

 

Great God! Why are we thus bereft?

Why in this time of conflict, left

To mourn the death of him, so dear:

Oh why: Thy judgments so severe?

We would not deign to counsel Thee;

A righteous Judge-but let us see,

The nation’s foes, like Judas sent,

To their own place of punishment.

 

Let Southern blood, for blood be paid,

And traitors in their graves be laid;

Till every rebel in the land

Shall bite the dust, or loyal stand.

 

And then, with slavery’s curse removed;

United, and of God approved;

Let this free land forever be

The home of Peace and LIBERTY.

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