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The ferry boat landed at the foot of Desbrosses street, New York city, at ten o'clock a. m., April 24, and the coffin was at once conveyed to a magnificent hearse or funeral car, prepared especially for the occasion. The platform of this car was fourteen feet long and eight feet wide. On the platform, which was five feet from the ground, there was a dais, on which the coffin rested. This gave it sufficient elevation to be readily seen by those at a distance, over the heads of the multitude. Above the dais there was a canopy fifteen feet high, supported by columns, and in part by a miniature temple of liberty. The platform was covered with black cloth, which fell at the sides nearly to the ground. It was edged with silver bullion fringe, which hung in graceful festoons. Black cloth hung from the sides, festooned with silver stars, and was also edged with silver fringe. The canopy was trimmed in like manner, with black cloth, festooned and spangled with silver bullion, the corners surmounted by rich plumes of black and white feathers. At the base of each column were three American flags, slightly inclined outward, festooned and covered with crape.
The temple of liberty was represented as being deserted, or rather despoiled, having no emblems of any kind, in or around it, except a small flag on the top, at half-mast. The inside of the car was lined with white satin, fluted. From the centre of the canopy, a large eagle was suspended, with outspread wings, and holding in its talons a laurel wreath. The platform around the coffin was strewn with flowers. The
hearse or funeral car was drawn by sixteen white horses, covered with black cloth trimming, each led by a groom.
From the foot of Desbrosses street, the remains were escorted by the Seventh regiment New York National Guards, to Hudson street, thence to Canal street, up Canal street to Broadway, and down Broadway to the west gate of the City Hall Park.
The procession which followed the remains was in keeping with the funeral car, the whole being indescribably grand and imposing. As far as the eye could see, a dense mass of people, many of them wearing some insignia of mourning, filled the streets and crowded every window. The fronts of the houses. were draped in mourning, and the national ensign displayed at half-mast from the top of almost every building. The procession was simply a dense mass of human beings. During the time it was moving, minute guns were fired at different points, and bells were tolled from nearly all the church steeples in the city. The chime on Trinity church wailed forth the tune of Old Hundred in a most solemn and impressive manner.
On arriving at the City Hall, the coffin was borne into the rotunda, amid the solemn chanting of eight hundred voices, and was placed on a magnificent catafalque, which had been prepared for its reception. The Hall was richly and tastefully decorated with the national colors and mourning drapery, and the coffin almost buried with rare and costly floral offerings. A large military guard, in addition to the Guard of Honor, kept watch over the sacred dust. All day and all night long, the living tide pressed into the Hall, to take a last look at the martyred remains. At the solemn hour of midnight, between the twenty-fourth and the twenty-fifth days of April, the German musical societies of New York, numbering about one thousand voices, performed a requiem in the rotunda of the City Hall, with the most thrilling effect. About ten o'clock,
on the morning of April 25, while a galaxy of distinguished officers were assembled around the coffin, Captain Parker Snow, commander of the Arctic and Antarctic expedition, presented some very singular relics. They consisted of a leaf from the book of Common Prayer and a piece of paper, on which were glued some fringes. They were found in a boat, under the skull of a skeleton which had been identified as the remains of one of Sir John Franklin's men. The most singular thing about these relics was the fact that the only words that were preserved in a legible condition were "THE MARTYR," in capitals. General Dix deposited these relics in the coffin. At a few minutes past eleven o'clock, the coffin was closed, preparatory to resuming its westward journey. Notwithstanding such vast numbers had viewed the corpse, there were thousands who had waited for hours, in the long lines, to obtain a look at the well known face, who were obliged to turn away sadly disappointed. This disappointment was not confined to any class or condition of men. The coffin had just been closed, in the presence of the Sergeants of the Veteran Reserve Corpswho were in readiness to convey it to the hearse-and a number of distinguished army officers, whose commissions had been signed by the deceased; when the first to realize the disappointment were the representatives of Great Britain, Russia and France. They came in, glittering with scarlet, gold and silver lace, high coat collars, bearing embroidered cocked hats under their arms, with other costly trappings, and high birth and breeding in every gesture, desirous of seeing the corpse, but they were too late.
At about half past twelve o'clock, the magnificent hearse or funeral car, drawn by sixteen white horses, each led by a groom, as on the day before, appeared on Broadway, at the west gate of City Hall Park. The coffin was next conveyed to the car. Then commenced the farewell part of the funeral pageant given
by the commercial metropolis of the nation to the memory of Abraham Lincoln. A military force of more than fifteen thousand men, with the staffs of several brigades and divisions, with their batteries, and the civic societies of every conceivable kind, in a great city, which joined in the demonstration, formed a double line about five miles long-equal to a single column of ten miles. In many parts of the procession, twenty men walked abreast. It was composed of eight grand divisions, each division having a marshal, with aids. It moved through the streets to the tolling of bells, the firing of minute guns and the music of a large number of bands. The animosities and division walls of parties, in politics, and sects and denominations, in religion, if not obliterated, were so far lowered, for the time being, that all parties could shake hands over them. Archbishop McClosky, the highest dignitary in the Roman Catholic church, in this country, walked side by side, in the procession, with Rev. Joseph P. Thompson, D. D., one of the most radical of the Congregational reformers of our land.
I have said that all party lines were, for the time, hidden from view, but it devolves upon me to notice one exception. Notwithstanding the blending of so many hearts in the great national sorrow, the city authorities of New York, true to their Tammany instincts, took measures to prevent the colored people from joining in the procession. They had deferred a procession of their own, on the Wednesday before, in order that five thousand of their number might be ready to show their love and respect for the emancipator of their race, by joining the procession to escort his remains on their way to the tomb. When it was known that the city authorities were trying to keep them out of the procession, Secretary Stanton interfered, and the order was set aside, but it was too late to give them such assurance of protection as to bring out their full numbers.
It is due to Thomas C. Acton, President of the Board of Police Commissioners, that the colored people were not entirely excluded. It was he, who, but a few months, before, enforced the right of the colored people to ride in the street cars. Of the five thousand who intended to turn out, only between two and three, hundred could be induced to risk the doubt and uncertainty occasioned by the action of the city authorities. These colored people were placed as an appendage to the eighth division, and to be sure that their rights were respected, Commissioner Acton sent a body of fifty-six policemen, under Sergeant Gay, who marched before and behind them in such a way as to be ready in a moment to quell any attempt at violence. A banner, prepared by the ladies of Henry Ward Beecher's Church, was inscribed on one side,
"Abraham Lincoln, our Emancipator,"
and on the other,
"To Millions of Bondmen, he Liberty Gave."
The banner was carried by four freedmen, just from the south, who were astonished to learn that there were so many more Yankees than colored people. Mourning emblems were displayed in such profusion as to be almost a wilderness of sable drapery, and the mottoes and inscriptions on the houses along the line of march, and those carried in the procession, would, if collected, make a volume of themselves. Space can be given for only a small number of them here.
"The workman dies, but the work goes on."
"Your cause of sorrow must not be measured by his worth; for then there would be no end."