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President Lincoln and the Union Light Guard

The below article appeared in the Paulding Progress, Spice Rack Section, Page 10, Wednesday, February 22, 1978.

The Spice Rack

By Dortha Schaefer

Abraham Lincoln's birthday was again noted of Feb. 12. Bits of information on the man continue to surface and interest in him doesn't fade with the years.

Ohio Gov. David Tod visited Washington during the summer of 1863 and was so shocked by the absence of protection for Lincoln that he petitioned the War Department for permission to raise a special volunteer company to guard both the White House and its principal occupant.

Each county of Ohio was sent a request asking military committees to send a name of one man it recommended for highly honorable and confidential service. The men weren't told about the new duty until they reached Washington.

(If there was a Paulding appointee, no record is given in this account taken from the Ohio Historical Society's bulletin Echoes.)

Tod designated the men of the Seventh Independent Company of Ohio Cavalry. They became known as the Union Light Guard. The men were supplied with black horses and their duty was to guard the front entrance to the White House grounds, and to act as escorts to the President in his carriage, or riding horseback as he often did.

The Guard also served at his summer home north of Washington. Lincoln frequently wandered out among the tents of the Guard near his home on warm evenings. He would chat with the lieutenant in command, sometimes looking into the tents of the men and talking with them.

Lincoln would seldom allow the Guard to protect him and often made himself an easy target. He refused to let them go with him to the theatre where he was shot.

As he lay dying, the Guard was called to stand at the Petersen house across from Ford's Theatre and attempt to control the crowd, while inside the house the death watch began.


Rec'd from The Paulding County Carnegie Library in Paulding Ohio and transcribed by Jerry Gross.
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