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Rath Letter, 1892

By Christian Rath


Christian Rath was the chief executioner, who tied the knots around the necks of the four co-conspirators sentenced to death for their role in the Lincoln assassination. In this letter written almost three decades after the event, he states that he was "the man that executed the Lincoln Conspirators."Something of a soldier of fortune, Rath was assigned to the arsenal prison as hangman even before the trial of the Lincoln conspirators was concluded. He had served as a captain in the 17th Michigan during the war and had been recommended for services before Petersburg in 1864 and 1865. He soon set to work making everything ready and by 7 July 1865, he was prepared. Rath himself tied the knots on the four ropes with seven for each of the men and only five on that of Mary Surratt. The captain also put the hoods over the victims' heads and made sure the ropes were in the correct position. His work had been thoroughly done since it was apparently a "clean" hanging

Topics: Rath, Christian; Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865--Assassination; Hangings; Executions; Executioners
Publisher: Indiana Historical Society
Year: 1892
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