Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Willie, Tad and the measles

Above is, IMHO, a charming set of photos. They are Willie and Tad Lincoln, AL's young sons who were just kids when their dad was President. EE was sort of a kid as well. He had the run of the Lincoln house in Springfield when he was working on the Lincoln Presidential campaign, and when EE accompanied AL to Washington, he was not only in charge of crowd control for Abe, he was a stalwart guardian of the Lincoln family on that last part of the journey through Baltimore when Lincoln was not on the train.

When everyone got to DC and was settled in, the boys came down with a case of the measles. Elmer Ellsworth caught them! Not quite realizing what was wrong with him (after all, his brother had died of smallpox just 2 years earlier), EE holed up in his room at Willard's Hotel and prepared to die. John Hay pounded on the door of the hotel room loudly enough to finally get EE's attention. He told Ellsworth the truth--it was measles!! Still, measles killed many adults back then, and both Hay and Nicolay came many days to nurse their friend back to health. It was during this convalescence that Ellsworth finally made up his mind to resign his Army commission as head of the Militia Office and go to New York to raise his own regiment of soldiers. He told Hay that he was certain that patriotism was NOT dead, but merely sleeping. Ellsworth's irresistible clarion call to arms was just what was needed to awaken it.

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