Exhumation Details of Lincoln Conspirators

Dust & Bones

  In 1869 President Andrew Johnson agreed to release the conspirator's bodies to the families for burial. The following newspaper accounts of the time describe each conspirator's disinterment from the grounds and in some cases, reburial.

Mary Surratt's remains were removed on February 8, 1869 to Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Washington D.C. When removing Mrs. Surratt's coffin,the case containing Powell's remains came into view.

 A description of the removal of Mrs. Surratt's remains from the Arsenal is described in the February 9, 1868 issue of The Evening Star, to which the following excerpt was taken:

 "On opening the case the body was found to be much decomposed, there being but a little flesh remaining; and the head laid to one side. The black dress, gaiters and the silk bow at the neck were found to be in a good state of preservation, and the little arrow-shaped pin placed in the bow at the neck by the daughter just before she took her last leave was found in the same position. Her hair was in perfect preservation, and the undertaker at the request of some of the family, cut off a portion for her friends."

David Herold was removed and reburied at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington D.C. The following excerpt from The Evening Star, February 13, 1869, describes the removal of Herold's remains.

"The top of the case was found to have decayed and fallen in. The body was removed from the pine case and placed in a fine Walnut coffin, ornamented with silver handles and screws, with a plate on the breast inscribed, David E. Herold, aged twenty-three years. The flesh had entirely disappeared, the skeleton only remaining, but the clothing appeared to be in a fair state of preservation. The head was entirely separated from the body."

George Atzerodt's remains were removed from the old Arsenal and reburied at Glenwood Cemetery as described in this excerpt from The Evening Star. 

"On opening the box, which had somewhat decayed, the vial containing the name was found, and the bones were scattered about, the upper part of his skull being on one side of the box and the lower jaw on the other, while the spine was curved."

Lewis Powell was the last conspirator to be removed from the old Arsenal.

The following excerpt from The Evening Star, February 22, 1870, describes the removal of Powell's remains. 

"The trench from which the remains of the other conspirators had been removed, was found open, and the box containing the bones and dust which constituted all that was left of the body of Payne, was raised and given in charge of the undertaker, and was quietly taken out of the grounds, the officer of the guard not even knowing the fact."