Friday, February 24, 2012

UC Merced Digitizes Civil War Diaries from Lincoln Assassination Witness

Diaries belonging to a Civil War soldier who witnessed the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln have been digitized and published by UC Merced's Kolligian Library.

Henry O. Nightingale was an abolitionist and Union soldier. His diary contains a firsthand account of Lincoln's assassination at Ford's Theatre and chronicles the following day's chaos and sadness that enveloped Washington, D.C.

The diaries are available for the public to view online at the Online Archive of California. The soldier's great granddaughter, Edith Denio, lives in Atwater with her husband, Mel. They had the diaries, along with a photo of the young soldier.

Nightingale was injured in May 1864 during the Battle of the Wilderness. After his injury, he spent 13 months in recovery at Stanton General Hospital in Washington, D.C.

"(I) remained all day in the Hospital," Nightingale wrote, "in the evening attended Ford's Theatre and in the last act, a most astonishing crime was committed the President, Mr. Lincoln, was shot through the head, the assassin then leaped out of the box, on the stage and drew a large dagger, and exclaimed 'I have done it. Virginia is avenged. Hic semper tyrannis' [sic] and made his escape."