The Confederate Bomb Plot

Conflict: Civil War

The White House was almost the location of President Lincoln's assassination

The White House was almost the location of President Lincoln’s assassination

To the Confederacy’s dismay, Abraham Lincoln was reelected as president in 1864. The Confederacy reached desperate measures when they couldn’t seem to get ahead on the battlefield or in political office, which resulted in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

The South wanted to crush the North’s morale by removing Lincoln from the picture. The initial plan was to kidnap him only for ransom, but as their failure in combat rose, so did the Confederacy’s inclination toward violence.

A few days before Lincoln was killed on 15 April, another attempt was made on his life. Lincoln was scheduled to meet with his Cabinet on 10 April 1865 in the White House, which is exactly when the Confederates were sending in one of their finest to plant a bomb. Sergeant Thomas Francis Harney had served in the Confederate Torpedo Bureau and became one of the best at creating land mines. He needed to construct a bomb that could be placed beneath the floor that Lincoln and his Cabinet would be using and cause it to collapse, hopefully guaranteeing the president’s death.

Thomas F. Harney's Confederate record

Thomas F. Harney’s Confederate record

Two days before the plotted assassination, Harney and a fellow Confederate, Thomas Franklin Summers, were still preparing and trying to get across the Potomac. But their timing was poor, as a team of Union scouts happened to be out that same day patrolling the river. Upon capture, Harney, like many other Confederate prisoners, was given the option to take an “oath of allegiance” and be free to return home to the South. Harney agreed to the oath and went back to New Orleans, Louisiana.

Find Thomas Francis Harney’s Confederate record on Fold3 here and more information about the Confederate bomb plot here and here.