So many great Civil War stories in the news this week, I wanted to post a couple in case you missed them. As an historical fiction author, I am always keeping my eyes open for these, and it always amazes me when we learn something new about this period!
The first one has to do with Lincoln’s pocket watch, which was long rumored to have a secret message inscribed within it by an Irish immigrant and watchmaker. The story that the man was fixing the 16th president’s watch when Fort Sumter was fired upon in the opening salvos of the Civil War had been passed down through the family for generations.
Lincoln never knew of the supposed inscription and neither did the Smithsonian, which now has the watch, until a family member stepped forward. They opened the watch this week and found the watchmaker’s name, the date of April 13, 1861, and the following words:
“Fort Sumpter [sic] was attacked by the rebels on the above date. Thank God we have a government.”
Of course, Sumpter was fired upon on April 12, but the finding is incredible. The descendant of the watchmaker was delighted to find that the story he had heard around the dinner table was true: “That’s Lincoln’s watch, and my ancestor wrote graffiti on it!”
You can see the photo of the inside of the watch and read the full Civil War story here.
Another article I discovered also concerns Lincoln (which is ironic since this year marks his 200th birthday). A photograph found in a private album once owned by Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant shows what historians believe is President Abraham Lincoln in front of the White House.
If it is proved to be authentic, this will be the only known photo of the 16th president in front of the executive mansion. Considering the fact that only about 130 photos of Lincoln are known to exist, it would be a very rare find. Because it is stamped on the back with the photographer’s name (and an inscription, “Lincoln in front of the White House”), it is also believed to be the last image taken of the president before he was assassinated in 1865.
To see the full story and the new Lincoln photograph check out the story Lincoln photo uncovered in Grant album.
I can’t wait to see what historical treasure is uncovered next, and what great untold stories of the Civil War will be revealed in the future.