"Confederate Veteran's mention of Delawarean, Samuel B. Hearn, and his Confederate Compatriots"
For some unexplained reason, decidedly or otherwise, there was no promulgation of President Lincoln's commutation of Embert's, Lyon's, and Hearn's sentence before the men were marched to the gallows at the hour designated for their execution. Then they were show the boxes prepared for their burial, and the reprieve was for the first time read to them.
By curious coincidence, Mrs. Gittings on the night of February 23, 1865, the fourth anniversary of her entertainment of Mrs. Lincoln, again appeared as a supplicant for clemency at the hands of the President. This time she went in behalf of John Yates Beall, a Confederate officer from Virginia, about to be executed at Governor's Island, New York Harbor. Beall's friends everywhere were on the move. Scores or prominent people from various cities had for days besieged the White House about the case. Ninety members of Congress, irrespective of party, united in a petition for a commutation of sentence. The clamor from all quarters became intolerable to escape incessant importunities, the President finally closed the doors of the White House to all visitors in Beall's behalf.
It was at this juncture that Mrs. Gittings appeared, accompanied by Montgomery Blair, former Postmaster General in Lincoln's Cabinet. She too was denied a hearing. The President, from the first adverse to interference, continued inflexible in his purpose not to stay the execution. It was, therefore, not surprising that Mrs. Gittings was not exempted from his pre-announced determination to turn away all such interceders. Furthermore, Mr. Lincoln had not long since subordinated the demands of public duty to the discharge of a personal obligation in the case of Embert, Lyon, and Hearn, for which he had expressed due appreciation. Having fully liquidated that debt, the President was free to ignore Mrs. Gittings's present visit. Before the lapse of many weeks Lincoln had forever passed beyond the reach of pardon seekers.
There is reason for believing that the President's instruction for commuting the sentence was intentionally neglected, the fact being that on the designated morning for the execution the prisoners were marched to the gallows and show the boxes intended for their interment before their reprieve was read to them.
It was expected in the outset that the author would write also in regard to the execution of J. Yates Beall, but that mystery may never be solved.