Lincoln Travels Home; Another Ship Is Lost

Wednesday, January 30, 1861

Before moving his family to Washington DC, President-Elect Abraham Lincoln decided to pay one last visit to his boyhood home and stepmother, Sarah Bush Lincoln. His birth-mother had died when he was nine and his father remarried a year later. Lincoln took to Sarah, even calling her “Mother.” They became very close, Lincoln making the journey to visit her every couple of years.

On this date, Lincoln took the train from Springfield to Charleston in Coles County, Illinois to say a good-bye to “Mother.”

He was dressed in comfortable clothes and looked rather ragged in a faded hat and short coat. Lincoln carried a tattered carpetbag as his only luggage. He was accompanied by state senator Thomas Marshall (who lived in Charleston, IL), Judge John Petit and his cousin John Hanks.

As the train clacked along the Great Western Railway (soon to become part of the Wabash Railroad) southeast to Charleston, Illinois, Lincoln entertained those around him with stories and jokes. They missed a transfer in Mattoon, so had to catch a freight train into Charleston, arriving at 6pm, well after dark.

Senator Marshall opened his house to Lincoln and hundreds of supporters. After a friendly meet and greet, Lincoln slept in the senator’s home. Tomorrow he would visit “Mother.”1

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Another Ship Lost

Revenue cutter Lewis Cass was commanded by Captain Morrison. Both captain and ship flew under the United States flag in Mobile Bay, enforcing tariff laws. On this date, the recently seceded State of Alabama, requested the surrender of the Lewis Cass with a bit of an offer for her captain.

Captain Morrison was ordered in writing by a representative of the government of Alabama “to surrender into my hands, for the use of the State, the revenue cutter Lewis Cass, now under your command, together with her armaments, properties and provisions on board the same.”

So far, this was a typical command to surrender. But it was followed by: “I am instructed also to notify you, that you have the option to continue in command of the said revenue cutter, under the authority of the State of Alabama, in the exercise of the same duties that you have hitherto rendered to the United States, and at the same compensation, reporting to this office and to the Governor of the State.”

Morrison took them up on the offer.

Incidentally, this order was discovered about a week later by W. Hempfield Jones who had just come from New Orleans to secure the other revenue cutter Robert McClelland. Failing to do so, Jones then went to Mobile to suffer the same defeat. He would return to Washington empty-handed.2



  1. Lincoln President-Elect by Harold Holzer. []
  2. New York Evening Post, February 22, 1861. []
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