Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln's Corpse

Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln's Corpse

by James L. Swanson

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Overview

In Bloody Crimes, James L. Swanson—the Edgar Award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of Manhunt—brings to life two epic events of the Civil War era: the thrilling chase to apprehend Confederate president Jefferson Davis in the wake of the Lincoln assassination and the momentous 20 -day funeral that took Abraham Lincoln’s body home to Springfield. A true tale full of fascinating twists and turns, and lavishly illustrated with dozens of rare historical images—some never before seen—Bloody Crimes is a fascinating companion to Swanson’s Manhunt and a riveting true-crime thriller that will electrify civil war buffs, general readers, and everyone in between.

On the morning of April 2, 1865, Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy, received a telegram from General Robert E. Lee. There is no more time—the Yankees are coming, it warned. Shortly before midnight, Davis boarded a train from Richmond and fled the capital, setting off an intense and thrilling chase in which Union cavalry hunted the Confederate president.

Two weeks later, President Lincoln was assassinated, and the nation was convinced that Davis was involved in the conspiracy that led to the crime. Lincoln's murder, autopsy, and White House funeral transfixed the nation. His final journey began when soldiers placed his corpse aboard a special train that would carry him home on the 1,600-mile trip to Springfield. Along the way, more than a million Americans looked upon their martyr's face, and several million watched the funeral train roll by. It was the largest and most magnificent funeral pageant in American history.

To the Union, Davis was no longer merely a traitor. He became a murderer, a wanted man with a $100,000 bounty on his head. Davis was hunted down and placed in captivity, the beginning of an intense and dramatic odyssey that would transform him into a martyr of the South's Lost Cause.

The saga that began with Manhunt continues with the suspenseful and electrifying Bloody Crimes. James Swanson masterfully weaves together the stories of two fallen leaders as they made their last expeditions through the bloody landscape of a wounded nation.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061233784
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/28/2010
Pages: 464
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

James L. Swanson is the author of the New York Times bestseller Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer. He is an attorney who has written about history, the Constitution, popular culture, and other subjects for a variety of publications, including the Wall Street Journal, American Heritage, Smithsonian, and the Los Angeles Times. Mr. Swanson serves on the advisory council of the Ford's Theatre Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Campaign and is a member of the advisory committee of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.

What People are Saying About This

Edward Steers

“A brilliant narrative that keeps the reader spellbound from beginning to end. James Swanson’s vivid style and historical accuracy are unsurpassed, and he makes the parallel journeys of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis come magically alive. I wish I had written this book.”

Douglas Brinkley

“With the publication of Bloody Crimes, James L. Swanson emerges as one of America’s greatest historians. Swanson recounts the closing drama of the Civil War with hair-raising precision and the vivid narrative drive of a top-tier novelist. A grand tour de force!”

Michael Burlingame

“James Swanson has done it again. Bloody Crimes is a moving, evocative trip back in time to the tumultuous spring of 1865. Swanson’s meticulous research and sparkling prose make it an essential companion to his award winning bestseller, Manhunt.”

Harlan Coben

“A haunting masterpiece. James Swanson has written a thrilling book of death and longing, of defeat and resurrection.”

Doris Kearns Goodwin

“James Swanson is a master storyteller. Bloody Crimes is not only a thoroughly terrific read; it is a valuable contribution to history. Swanson’s brilliant decision to weave together the final days of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis provides fresh and compelling insights on both familiar figures.”

Vincent Bugliosi

“James Swanson is a giant. With his instant classic Manhunt, and its triumphant follow up Bloody Crimes, Swanson proves beyond all doubt that he is a master of historical true-crime epic.....Bloody Crimes is irresistibly captivating. I highly recommend it.”

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Bloody Crimes 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 82 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
On April 2, 1865, Confederate General Lee sends a telegram to President Jefferson Davis warning him the Yankee armies were heading to Richmond. Davis immediately stopped what he was doing and fled the capital by train. The next day the North took Richmond. Over the next twelve days the Northern military intensely searched for Davis proclaimed a traitor as the Confederacy imploded under the assault. On the evening of April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth assassinates President Lincoln who was attending a play at the Ford Theater in Washington DC; other by co-conspirators assaults failed to kill the intended victims. Lincoln was pronounced dead the next morning while Wilkes fled the city. As the hunt for Wilkes intensified, the funeral process of President Lincoln began on April 19 in DC and from there by train until arriving in Springfield on May 3; millions watched the procession. Davis is called a co-conspirator murderer. Ironically while Lincoln became martyred for the ages; Davis once captured became martyred for the South's Lost Cause. This is a fascinating comparison of the fates of two presidents in April 1865 as James L. Swanson intertwines their stories. The Lincoln segue is very passionate as the grief of mourners watching the train roll by will impact readers. The Davis segue is more exciting, but lacks the emotional intensity of the juxtaposed Lincoln piece. Enhanced by black and white photos, Bloody Crimes is a terrific historical account of two presidents although not as exhilarating as the superb Manhunt for Wilkes. Harriet Klausner
bridget3420 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. I wouldn't say it's one of my favorite's but it certainly held my attention. James has a way of picking a reader out of the real world and showing them a glimpse of the past. If you like the synopsis, I'm sure you'll enjoy the book.
CoachRob More than 1 year ago
James Swanson has written a masterpiece. I was glued to this book on my Nook Color from the first moment I picked it up. Mr. Swanson finely details the events of the Lincoln assassination and the search for Jefferson Davis. I am a history instructor, and was very impressed with how easy of a read that Mr. Swanson's book was to read and follow. Mr. Swanson had me in total awe of every event of those terrible days in 1865. It was absolutely amazing to me the parallel lives that both Lincoln and Jefferson lived. This book is amazing and one that every serious reader of Civil War history should read. It should be required reading in any Civil War history course. Great Job Mr. Swanson. R. Howell Harlingen, Texas
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read for history nerds like me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is engaging and informative! I love the way the author tells the stories of Lincoln and Davis the way it occurred-Davis living his life unaware of the fact that Lincoln was dead made this book particularly fascinating to me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found "Bloody Crimes" to be an incredibly insightful and great read! Bloody Crimes revealed that the late US President Lincoln and abolitionist "John Brown" shared an similar sentiment regarding ending slavery in the US. The last note "John Brown" would ever write stated, "I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood." Often overlooked in his second inaugural address, Lincoln stated, "Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether." In the end, slavery in the US ended as John Brown envisioned. With regard to the "Truth vs. Myth' regarding whether or not Jefferson Davis worn a woman's raglan coat, the answer can be found in simply verifying which way the coat he was captured in buttons up. Women's coats are buttoned "right-over-left," while men's costs are buttoned "left-over-right." Besides, what would be the point in "disguising" Jefferson Davis as a "man" when the Union soldiers were looking for a "man." "Bloody Crimes" is a highly recommended read...a must read.
OMOCAM More than 1 year ago
Fascinating subject on several fronts! An excellent follow up to Manhunt! Definitely a must read!
atomsplitter More than 1 year ago
This book is ideal, if you have an interest in every tiny detail of Abraham Lincoln's funeral. I found this book to be quite a drag, almost like Lincoln's endless funeral. The more interesting parts of the book involved the flight of Jefferson Davis. The title of the book sounds like it will be a thriller and it isn't.
kenkarpay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Inappropriately named, "Bloody Crimes" is the intertwined tale of the lives and deaths of Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis and the impact their memories had on American at the end of the Civil War and the years afterward. Author James Swanson, a lifelong Civil War buff, recounts details that demonstrates Americans' passionate response to the symbols that both Lincoln and Davis became in both life and death. Bloody Crimes is not so much about the "crimes" of the war, but about the search to find meaning in the war and its aftermath.
suballa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Beginning with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Bloody Crimes tells the parallel stories of Lincoln¿s final journey home and Davis¿s flight and ultimate capture. Swanson details the events immediately following the shooting of Lincoln, including the chaos at the Peterson house where Lincoln¿s body was taken immediately following the attack. From the hysterical and inconsolable Mary Lincoln to the doctors and government officials who came and went throughout the evening, the Peterson house became the first place of mourning. When Mary Lincoln finally decided on Springfield as the President¿s final resting place, the death pageant began. The journey by train took thirteen days, covered 1,645 miles and never deviated from the master timetable. Lincoln¿s coffin was displayed in 10 cities along the way. Each city hastily constructed viewing chambers for their honored guest, and each city tried to make their display more elaborate than the last. Cleveland constructed a ¿temporary outdoor pavilion¿ made to look like a Chinese pagoda. Government officials, embalmers, and the coffin containing Willie Lincoln traveled on the train with Lincoln. More than one million Americans passed by the President¿s coffin while it was on display and more than 7 million people lined the train tracks as the train passed by. To the many onlookers ¿Lincoln¿s coffin became a kind of ark of the American covenant, possessing hidden meanings and mysterious powers.¿ Meanwhile, with the surrender of Robert E. Lee and the Union army closing in on Richmond, Jefferson Davis began his flight south. A $100,000 bounty (more than $2 million today) was placed on Davis¿s head. This was twice the amount offered for the capture of Booth. Lincoln, who was always forgiving, probably would have wanted Davis to escape and live in exile, but after Lincoln¿s murder northerners wanted revenge. Davis was one of the last to accept that the cause was lost and that the South was defeated, and he moved slowly-never wanting to appear that he was fleeing. Thirty eight days after leaving Richmond, Davis was captured near Irwinsville, GA and gave up without a fight. His flight took him ¿through four states by railroad, ferry boat, horse, cart, and wagon¿. After his capture he began his 12 day journey to imprisonment and 2 year captivity in Fort Monroe, VA. This is a highly readable account of an important event in our history and Swanson does a great job of showing us just how beloved Abraham Lincoln really was.
phyllis01 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Swanson seamlessly weaves the intertwined search for Jeff Davis and the public mourning of Lincoln in his second book. Well worth the read for no other reason than its thoughtful depiction of Jeff Davis as equally devoted to his political beliefs as Lincoln was.
GBev2010 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A strong follow up to Swanson's five-star "Manhunt." While I've read a lot on Lincoln and consider him one of my heroes, I have to say this book left me wanting to hear more about Jefferson Davis.Swanson effectively paints Davis in a sympathetic light, showing that no matter what a person's political agenda or alliances might be, the reality is that we are all human beings...capable of love, sympathy, compassion, and honor in spite of our short comings.
jcbrunner on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Swanson's thriller Manhunt is alongside with Shaara's Killer Angels a must read for all Civil War buffs. This sequel is a major disappointment in multiple ways. Firstly, it lacks all thrill. Abraham Lincoln's rather boring funeral procession and Jefferson Davis' leisurely flight offer little drama and lack the ticking clock that guided Swanson's hit title. Secondly, the book lacks cohesion, indicated by the strange title choice, a Bible quote from Ezekiel 7:23: ¿Make a chain: for the land is full of bloody crimes" referred to by John Brown). This English translation does not confer its meaning accurately which is crimes of blood or blood guilt. Even if one accepts Swanson's English title, the connection to its subtitle is dubious at best. Neither the chase for Jefferson Davis nor Lincoln's funeral procession can be subsumed as "bloody crimes". The book intertwines two loosely connected stories: One strand retells Lincoln's murder and then adds Lincoln's funeral procession tour (and its merchandising opportunities) across multiple Northern cities. The other strand follows Jefferson Davis' flight from Richmond and presents Davis' imprisonment, release and redemption. The combination of these two strands results in a very odd mix. Presenting Davis' story alongside the different treatment of meted out to the leaders of the Confederacy would have resulted in a much stronger book.Thirdly and its weakest point. Swanson engages in an unrepentant whitewashing of Jefferson Davis, who is presented almost as a saint, suffering for his chosen people (that might be one of the reason why the reactionary pope sent him a crown of thorns. The Catholic hierarchy does love oppressors.). Davis' racism, his catastrophic personnel selections (A.S. Johnston, Braxton Bragg, John Bell Hood, ...) and decision-making are neither mentioned nor discussed. All is very reminiscent of how George W. Bush is treated in the US. Despite an obvious case for treason and war crimes respectively, the political and judicial actors are unwilling to do their duty, because doing the right and just thing is, somehow, seen as onerous and might cause some hurt feelings. At least, Jefferson Davis had been sent to prison for his treachery, even though the "look forward, not backward" approach that became the motto of the failed US reconstruction resulted in the strange fact that he was never charged for any crime. This allowed Jefferson Davis to strut around and feel vindicated in the Jim Crow era. The speed of collective amnesia has since markedly advanced. US crooks and criminals pop up on TV and book tours, while the victims of their bloody crimes have barely been buried.A bad sequel and bad history. A neo-Confederate whitewash is not needed for the 150th anniversary of the war.
TooBusyReading on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Based on the length of the subtitle, The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln's Corpse, I should have known that the book wouldn't be short. Because of some incorrect online information (hey, you can get wrong info on the Web??), I expected about 200 pages and was just a little disconcerted to find around 400.I shouldn't have worried. This book was informative, entertaining, and thoroughly readable. The story starts a few days before the Lincoln assassination and follows Lincoln before his death, and his body after his death. It begins at the same time to tell the story Jefferson Davis as his hopes of winning the war were turning to dust, and continues until his death. The two stories are intertwined in the book, just as they were in reality, with information about what was happening to each of them on the same days.Most U. S. citizens know a fair amount about Abraham Lincoln. Fewer of us, including me, know much about Davis. The author gives insight into his character as well as putting to rest some of the myths about him, and I found it quite fascinating.The cities that hosted Lincoln's corpse on the trip to his burial genuinely mourned him, but there also was competition over what city could provide the most elaborate welcome and settings for the viewing. It all seems quite macabre, especially considering the length of the tour and the state of embalming science at the time. I found the descriptions of the various floral tributes, hearses, and catafalques a bit too detailed for my taste but it certainly gave substance to that final trip.Although the copy that I read was an Advance Reader's Edition, it contained quite a few photographs and illustrations that added to the story. Reading it makes me want to read the author's earlier work, Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer.Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy of this book for review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful and easy and exciting reading if you love history and the Civil War era
IlovebooksMO More than 1 year ago
A great read, I love how Mr Swanson tells the two stories as they are unfolding so it felt like everything was continuous.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awsome details on this book
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JesseDC More than 1 year ago
It's a great read but it was also heavy handed going from the funeral train of Abraham Lincoln to the Chase for Jefferson Davis and back again.
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