The Capture of Confederate President Jefferson Davis


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, May 27, 1865

The May 27, 1865 edition of Harper's Weekly features a cover article on Lewis Payne, the would-be assassin of Secretary Seward, news of the capture of Jefferson Davis, and important information of Black Suffrage following the Civil War.  We have posted the entire newspaper in readable form.  Simply click on the thumbnail below to be taken to a large, readable version of that page.

Capture of Jefferson Davis

Capture of Jefferson Davis

Black Suffrage

Black Suffrage

Jefferson Davis Accused of Treason

Jefferson Davis Accused of Treason

Abraham Lincoln Chicago Funeral

Abraham Lincoln Chicago Funeral

General Johnston's Surrender

General Joseph Johnston's Surrender

Joe Johnston Surrender

Johnston's Surrender to Sherman

Battle of Fort Mahone

Battle of Fort Mahone

Battle for Mobile

Battle For Mobile Alabama

Abraham Lincoln's Tomb

Abraham Lincoln's Tomb



VOL. IX.—No. 439.]



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the Year 1865, by Harper & Brothers, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.

ing Savannah on April 28, having marched at least six hundred and fifty miles.


IN regard to LEWIS PAYNE, the assassin who entered Secretary SEWARD'S sick room and inflicted upon him and his son wounds intended to prove fatal, little is yet publicly known. We publish his portrait on this page. Apparently he was a hired assassin dispatched from Canada. He is said to be an outlaw from Kentucky, and to have been concerned in the St. Albans raid and other schemes of murder and arson concocted in Canada. He was captured at Mrs. SURRATT'S house in the disguise of a laboring man.

The course of the trial now going on at Washington will develop the biography of PAYNE - if indeed that be his real name. This trial has for its principal object not merely the conviction of PAYNE and ATZEROT, and the other tools of this base plot, but the disclosure of an extensive conspiracy. The agents in Richmond, and those in Canada, commissioned from Richmond—who they are, what they have attempted, and by what means—are the central objects about which this great trial revolves. It was for this reason that some parts of the testimony was given in secret, in order that no warning might be given to those thus implicated. It was for this reason that so much care was necessarily taken to prevent any but loyal men from pleading as counsel. But the history of this trial is yet to be written. The infernal schemes for murdering and plundering peaceful citizens, and even for burning clown crowded places of amusement over the heads of defenseless women and children, and the plots for torturing and starving our prisoners, will no doubt be found but parts and parcels of the gigantic crime of treason which culminated in the murder of our President and the attempt to assassinate his Cabinet.


WE give on page 324 an illustration of the capture of Fort Mahone, commonly known as Fort "Damnation," by the Ninth Army Corps, early in the morning of April 3.—The charge was as impetuous as its conduct was skillful. The chevaux de frise, which was broken through by the furious onset of the national troops, was, after the capture of the fort, carried over to the other side, so as to form a protection against au attempt on the part of the rebels to recapture the work. The troops were thus enabled to hold the fort until the arrival of reinforcements.


IT was on a beautiful May day  that President LINCOLN was buried at Oak Ridge,


A PICKED company of WILSON'S command captured JEFFERSON DAVIS on the morning of May 10, at Irwinsville, Georgia. The company was commanded by Colonel PRITCHARD, of the Fourth Michigan. The following is General WILSON'S dispatch announcing the capture : MACON, GA., 9.30 A.M., May 13, 1865. Hon. E. M. Stanton, Sec. of War: Lieut.-Colonel HARDEN, commanding the First Wisconsin, has just arrived from Irwinsville. He struck the trail of DAVIS at Dublin, Laurens County, on the evening of the 7th, and followed him closely, night and day, through the pine wilderness of Alligator Creek and Green Swamps, via Cumberlandsville to Irwinsville. At Cumberlandsville Colonel HARDEN met Colonel PRITCHARD, with 150 picked men and horses of the Fourth Michigan. HARDEN followed the trail directly south, while PRITCHARD, having fresher horses, pushed down the Ocmulgee toward Hopewell, and thence by House Creek to Irwinsville, arriving there at midnight of the 9th. JEFF DAVIS had not arrived. From a citizen PRITCHARD learned that his party were encamped two miles out of the town. He made dispositions of his men, and surrounded the camp before day. HARDEN had camped at 9 P.M. within two miles, as he afterward learned, from DAVIS. The trail being too indistinct to follow, he pushed on at 3 A.M., and had gone but little more than one mile when his advance was fired upon by men of the Fourth Michigan. A fight ensued, both parties exhibiting the greatest determination. Fifteen minutes elapsed before the mistake was discovered. The firing in this skirmish was the first warning that DAVIS received. The captors report that he hastily put on one of his wife's dresses and started for the woods, closely followed by our men, who at first thought him a woman, but seeing his boots while he was running, they suspected his sex at once. The race was a short one, and the rebel President was soon brought to bay. He brandished a bowie-knife and showed signs of battle, but yielded promptly to the persuasions of COLT's revolvers, without compelling the men to fire. He expressed great indignation at the energy with which he was pursued, saying that he had believed our Government were too magnanimous to hunt down women and children. Mrs. DAVIS remarked to Colonel HARDEN, after the excitement was over, that the men had better not provoke the President, or "he might hurt some of 'em." REAGAN behaves himself with dignity and resignation. The party, evidently, were making for the coast.   J. H. WILSON, Brevet Major-General.

The captured party included DAVIS'S family, with REAGAN, Postmaster-General; Colonel HARRISON, Private Secretary ; Colonel JOHNSON, Aid-de-Camp; Col. MORRIS, Colonel LUBBICK, Lieut. HATHAWAY. and others.

Less than five years ago Brevet Major-General JAMES H. WILSON, the captor of JEFFERSON DAVIS, was a cadet at West Point. He was born in Southern Illinois, about the year 1840. He was made Second Lieutenant at the beginning of the war, to date from June 10, 1861.

He occupied the position of Chief of Engineers on the Staff of General W. T. SHERMAN in the expedition to Hilton Head, South Carolina. In the operations

against Pulaski he rendered valuable service in finding a passage for gun-boats drawing ten feet of water and clear of the guns of the fort. This enabled our troops to establish a battery at Venus Point. Lieut. WILSON remained in the Department of the South, conspicuously engaged on engineer duty until the summer of 1862, when he served for a short time as aid to General McCLELLAN. On November 3, 1862, he was appointed Assistant Inspector - General, with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel of Volunteers, and assigned to General GRANT, by whom he was for several months assigned to duty on the staff of Major-General JAMES B. McPHERSON. During the operations in Mississippi and against Vicksburg Colonel WILSON was again conspicuous for his engineering skill ; and in the brilliant victories of General GRANT, in the vicinity of Chattanooga, won the official commendation of General W. F. SMITH, with whom he was then acting. On December 31, 1863, he was nominated Brigadier-General of Volunteers, to date from October 30, 1863, and was confirmed May 12, 1864, upon the recommendation

 of Lieutenant-General GRANT. In January, 1861, General WILSON was appointed chief of the Cavalry Bureau in Washington. In April following he was assigned to the command of the Third Division Cavalry Corps, Major-General SHERIDAN, Army of the Potomac. During General GRANT'S Virginia campaign he acted independently, to the right and rear of the army, to destroy railroads. He also covered the rear from Coal Harbor to the south side of the James River. In June and the beginning of July he conducted a raid south of Richmond, destroying the railroads and throwing the enemy in a great state of alarm. After the necessity of cavalry operations in the vicinity of Richmond and Petersburg had passed, General WILSON

was transferred to the Shenandoah Valley, where he added to his reputation as an efficient officer. For distinguished service he was breveted Major General of Volunteers, to date from October 5, 1864. During the winter he was transferred to the Department of the Cumberland, and by Gen. Thomas was placed in command of the cavalry corps of the Army of the Cumberland. On March 23, 1865, General WILSON started from Chickasaw, Alabama, with his troops well mounted and equipped. After routing RODDY at Monticello, he moved on and annihilated the combined forces of FORREST, LYON, and CHALMERS, under FORREST, and occupied Selma, Alabama, on April 2. Thence he moved on to Montgomery, thence swept across Georgia, reach-

Springfield. At noon the remains were brought from the State House in the same hearse which had carried LYON and THOMAS H. BENTON to their graves. The hearse was surmounted by a beautiful crown of flowers. From the portico, as the procession advanced, a chorus of hundreds of voices sang the hymn

"Children of the heavenly King,

Let us journey as we sing."'

The Funeral Procession was under the immediate direction of General HOOKER. The President's tomb is two miles from Springfield. A dirge was sung; and after the reading of Scripture, a prayer, and a hymn, the President's second Inaugural was read. A dirge succeeded, when Bishop SIMPSON delivered the funeral oration. It was in the highest degree eloquent and patriotic. "We have," says a correspondent of the Times, (Continued Next Page)


The Assassin Lewis Payne

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