Is this Honest Abe?
WGAL TV-8 has been showing images of an old photo from the Library of Congress’s archives that may show President Lincoln arriving on horseback, surrounded by his Union cavalry escort and other dignitaries, to deliver the Gettysburg Address. John Richter from Hanover first suggested this photo may show the president, and famed Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer agrees. His endorsement is good enough for me!
Here is the link to WGAL’s webpage. Be sure to have a look at the blown up, enhanced images and make up your own mind.
Is this Abraham Lincoln? What do you think?
There have been several theories proposed as to the exact identity of this bearded man wearing a top hat and riding a horse in the military procession.
1. President Abraham Lincoln – yes, he indeed was riding a horse and wearing his characteristic top hat. In one of the two halves of his stereophoto, he appears to be saluting with his left hand, encased in a white glove, which it is known he wore to the ceremony.
2. Ward Hill Lamon – Lincoln’s assistant, who also rode in the parade and was dressed similarly. Some of the Gettysburg tour guides believe the man in the photo to be Lamon, as the beard appears much fuller and richer than what Lincoln had at the time, and Lamon is known to have had a full beard at the time. There is a different photo of Lincoln discovered in 1952 that shows the president seated on the dias waiting to speak at the dedication ceremony, and his beard is not as bushy as the man on horseback.
3. An unknown parade marshal – the presidential party and the other dignitaries and speakers were escorted through the streets of Gettysburg to Evergreen Cemetery by a group of parade marshals, who were also attired in white gloves and black suits.
We may never know for sure, but John Richter’s discovery of this image within a known photograph has sparked a lot of national awareness of the photo and perhaps will lead others to search for old Civil War photos or other documents. The historical community may be enriched from these efforts and the added publicity.
Don’t forget to dig through your attics and closets to look for photos of former members of the 87th Pennsylvania!