Secretary of the Navy, Gideon
Welles & the Lincolns
PRESIDENT LINCOLN ASSASSINATED!
Gideon Welles served Lincoln as Secretary of the Navy. On the night
of April 14, he was awakened with the news that Lincoln had been
shot. Together with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, he rushed to
Ford's Theater. They found the area packed with an excited crowd and
learned that Lincoln had been taken to a house across the street.
Clamoring up the stairs, Welles asked a doctor he recognized about
Lincoln's condition. The physician replied that the President might
live another three hours. We pick up his story as he enters the room
where Lincoln lay:
"The President had been carried across the street from the theater
to the house of a Mr. Peterson. We entered by ascending a flight of
steps above the basement and passing through a long hall to the
rear, where the President lay extended on a bed, breathing heavily.
Several surgeons were present, at least six, I should think more.
Among them I was glad to observe Doctor Hall, who, however, soon
left. I inquired of Doctor Hall, as I entered, the true condition of
the President. He replied the President was dead to all intents,
although he might live three hours or perhaps longer."
of Gideon Welles at the hotel can be read at
FRIENDSHIP WITH THE LINCOLNS:
Mrs. Welles was Mary Lincoln's best friend in Washington. The story
of the Welles and the Lincolns continue . . .
Even after so many years, the scene inside the White House in
February 1862 remains heart-wrenching.
With civil war raging across the country, Willie and Tad Lincoln,
the two youngest sons of President Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln,
lay deathly ill, stricken with typhoid fever.
Willie (Lincoln), 11, eventually succumbs after an agonizing bedside
vigil, leaving his 8-year-old brother clinging to life. The grieving
president, his wife exhausted and on the verge of a breakdown, sends
a brief, desperate note to Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles
and his wife, Mary Jane Hale Welles, a Connecticut couple who
have become one of Mary Lincoln's few friends in Washington, D.C.
"Mr. and Mrs. Welles please call and see us," the president pleads.
The Welles arrive at once, and Mary Welles spends the following days
and weeks nursing Tad back to health and comforting her friend.