— Looking for Lincoln —
In 1863, Ohio Governor David Tod believed that Lincoln needed a cavalry body-guard. Governor Tod requested one volunteer from each county in Ohio to serve on special duty. Guernsey County, in east-central Ohio supplied Ephraim Adamson, a twenty-four-year-old farmer. Recruits were unaware of their duty until mustered into service and transported to Washington, D. C. Officially the 7th Independent Company, Ohio Volunteer Cavalry, they were called the Union Light Guard. With a unit of more than one hundred men, not all cavalrymen stayed with Lincoln. A large contingent guarded important Washington public buildings, including the War and Treasury Departments. President Lincoln spent summers at the Soldier's Home, and guards escorted him to and from downtown Washington. Private Adamson mainly served at General Daniel Rucker's headquarters. In April 1865, Adamson was at the Executive Mansion and heard President Lincoln give his final speech on April 11. John Wilkes Booth heard the same speech and, because of it, decided to assassinate the President. Lincoln had no guard on the night of April 14 because he typically refused a detail while attending the theater.
Private Adamson mustered out of service in September 1865 and returned to Ohio, selling goods from a wagon. He married Josephine Scott and moved to Moweaqua, where he became a farmer. He accumulated substantial property in Illinois and Nebraska. Adamson, seated left in this photo from the 1890's and his wife had eight children. Along with many from his unit, Adamson attended reunions late in the nineteenth-century and was one of the last survivors, dying in Moweaqua in 1928.
President Lincoln and his family frequently interacted with members of the guard. Once, Tad Lincoln obtained the captain's whistle, which signaled the sentinels to change position at each half-hour. Tad blew the whistle constantly for a short period of time surprising and confusing the guards. Adamson and others also complained to Lincoln about not fighting on the front line. Lincoln admonished the men, stating that while he preferred not to have a guard, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton insisted upon it. Then he told the story of a farmer who could not "understand why the Lord put the curl in a pig's tail. It never seemed to be either useful or ornamental, but he reckoned that the Almighty knew what he was doing when he put it there."
Comments 0 comments