I Held Lincoln

I Held Lincoln

A Union Sailor's Journey Home

Richard E. Quest

224 pages
15 illustrations, 2 maps

Hardcover

May 2018

978-1-61234-949-7

$24.95 Pre-order

About the Book

Lt. Benjamin Loring (1824–1902) lived the life of an everyman Civil War sailor. He commanded no armies and devised no grand strategies. Loring was a sailor who just wanted to return home, where the biggest story of his life awaited him.

Covering almost a year of Loring’s service, I Held Lincoln describes the lieutenant’s command of the gunboat USS Wave, the Battle of Calcasieu Pass, the surrender of his ship, and his capture by the Confederates. He was incarcerated in Camp Groce, a deadly Confederate prison where he endured horrific conditions and abuse. Loring attempted to escape, evading capture for ten days behind enemy lines, only to be recaptured just a few miles from freedom. After an arduous second escape, he finally reached the safety of Union lines and gained his freedom.

On the night of April 14, 1865, Loring attended Ford’s Theater and witnessed one of the single most tragic events in American history: the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. After the shot rang out, Loring climbed into the presidential box and assisted the dying president, helping to carry him across the street to the Peterson House. Using Loring’s recently discovered private journal, Richard E. Quest tells this astonishing lost story, giving insight into a little-known Confederate prison camp during the last days of the Civil War and providing much-deserved recognition to a man whose journey was nearly lost to American history.
 

Author Bio

Richard E. Quest is the founding president and executive director of the charitable nonprofit organization Books in Homes USA, Inc. He is a former history teacher, has held administrative positions in public education, and was a dean and associate vice president of several colleges. Quest is a member of the Loudoun County Civil War Round Table and is a guide at the Ball’s Bluff Battlefield Regional Park in Virginia. He recently relocated to northern Virginia.
 

Praise

“Gleaned from the actual documents of Lt. Benjamin Loring, I Held Lincoln tells the story of a Union sailor’s remarkable odyssey as he twice escapes from a Confederate prison, only to later find himself a player at Ford’s Theater at one of the most crucial events in American history. Richard Quest brings to life this extraordinary, fast-paced, and recently discovered story. I Held Lincoln could be The Conspirator’s prequel.”—Webster Stone, producer of The Conspirator
 

“A compelling account of capture, imprisonment, escape, ordeal, and survival, I Held Lincoln reads like quality fiction. The reader follows with intense interest the efforts of Union Navy Lieutenant Benjamin W. Loring to gain freedom from a Texas prison camp despite an array of daunting obstacles. Richard Quest’s ability to maintain the inherent drama and suspense of the story makes this book hard to put down.”—Edward G. Longacre, author of The Sharpshooters: A History of the Ninth New Jersey Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War
 

“Lt. Benjamin Loring was a naval combat veteran and POW who twice escaped his Confederate captors, enduring enormous hardships as he struggled to return to duty. Ironically, rather than being hailed as a hero, he found himself under attack for having surrendered his ship. Richard Quest’s book will finally correct the historical record, something Loring was not able to fully accomplish during his lifetime.”—Thomas R. Turner, professor of history emeritus at Bridgewater State University and editor of the journal Lincoln Herald

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface: The Loring Project
Acknowledgments
Author’s Note
1. Getting in the Fight
2. The Wave
3. A Seasick Wave
4. No Coal
5. The Enemy Is Close By
6. A Precious Rose
7. Chicken Feed
8. Prison
9. Escape!
10. Through the Wall
11. On the Outside
12. Plantations
13. Dog Ranch
14. De Doe Is Dead?!
15. The Hunter
16. Interrogation
17. A Night Drive
18. A Confederate Bastille
19. Anderson Grimes County Jail
20. The Old Pen Again
21. Deadliest Killer
22. Making the Best of It
23. The Swamp
24. Tied Up
25. The Power of the Pen(cil) 
26. Navigating by the Wind
27. Parched Corn
28. Over the River and through the Woods
29. Bear Swamp
30. Confederate Potatoes
31. Goodbye, Texas
32. Home Guard and Yankee Prisoners
33. Old Friends?
34. Your Passes or Your Life!
35. Where Is My Penknife?
36. The Last Toenail
37. A Burned Bridge
38. Chimneys on the Horizon
39. Lincoln Coffee and a Civilized Bed
40. The Surprise
41. Washington Navy Yard
42. I Held Lincoln
Afterword
Notes
Bibliography

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