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George Alfred Townsend, "The Obsequies in Washington," April 19, 1865

George Alfred Townsend, detail
George Alfred Townsend was a twenty-four year-old journalist, perhaps the youngest war correspondent of the Civil War, who was working for the New York World in April 1865 at their Washington D.C. bureau. His reports took the form of long "letters" and here we have the one that he wrote for his newspaper the evening after attending the funeral of President Abraham Lincoln at the White House. He published his letters written during this time later in the year in pamphlet form. Townsend's prose was vivid and descriptive, though, according to some, not always completely accurate. Here he gives a remarkably detailed description of the East Room at the White House and paints word pictures of those in attendance from the body politic, the military, the clergy, and the foreign diplomatic corps. The theme is one of loss but, at the same time, in pride for the way in which the Republic is dealing with the tragic blow. Townsend became a novelist in later years and, coincidentally, died on the forty-ninth anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's death. (By John Osborne)


How to Cite This Page: "George Alfred Townsend, "The Obsequies in Washington," April 19, 1865," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,