Voice from the Past on Lincoln Anniversary

Julius Howell in his Confederate uniform.

Julius Howell in his Confederate uniform. James Howell hide caption

itoggle caption James Howell
Julius Howell at the age of 19.

Julius Howell at the age of 19. James Howell hide caption

itoggle caption James Howell

Civil War veteran Julius Howell of Bristol, Va. was 101 years old when he was recorded at the Library of Congress in June, 1947. He spoke of how he learned of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, 140 years ago this morning.

Courtesy Sound Portraits/Library of Congress

Howell was one of the last surviving veterans of the Civil war, having joined the Confederate Army's Company "K" at 16. He spent the last two months of the war as a prisoner in Point Lookout, Md.

It was at the camp that Howell noticed flags being raised to half-mast one morning. He told his fellow prisoners, "I says boys, there must be some big Yankee dead, I wonder who it can be. [Of] course, we had no means of knowing."

After gaining his freedom, Howell began an academic career, attending the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard before eventually becoming president of Virginia Intermont College.

This story was produced by Sound Portraits in New York, with special thanks to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

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