Hartranft, John F.


Led charge at Burnside’s Bridge at Antietam, defeated Lee’s last offensive, awarded Medal of Honor, read execution order for Lincoln assassination conspirators


Type: Document
Description: (1830 –1889) US Army officer, read death warrant to individuals executed on July 7, 1865 for conspiring to assassinate President Lincoln. Civil War Brigadier General and brevet Major General, awarded Medal of Honor for actions in 1st Battle of Bull Run (1st Manassas) in 1886. 17th Pennsylvania Governor 1873-79.

Son of ethnic German Americans, admitted to bar 1860. In April 1861, raised Montgomery County regiment of 90-day volunteers in Norristown, served as colonel, 4th Penna. Vol. Infantry.  When term of enlistment was up, regiment returned home on eve of 1st Manassas when firing had already begun. Hartranft, humiliated by his men’s decision to go home, stayed to fight on July 21, 1861 which earned him the Medal of Honor on August 21, 1886, for volunteering services to fellow Pennsylvanian, Col. Wm. B. Franklin.

He raised 3-year regiment, 51st Penna. Infantry, becoming its colonel. They served on No. Carolina coast in Burnside Expedition, then led them at Roanoke Island and New Bern July 1862, then went to Newport News, Va. to be part of Burnside’s IX Corps with whom they fought at 2nd Battle of Bull Run and at South Mountain. At Antietam, Hartranft led famous charge across Burnside’s Bridge, suffering 120 casualties. They also fought in Battle of Fredericksburg. The 51st was transferred to Western Theater where they saw action at Vicksburg, Campbell’s Station, and Knoxville; in latter 2 actions, served as commander of 2nd Division, IX Corps while still a colonel. Led 1st Brig., 3rd Div., IX Corps in 1864 Overland Campaign in fighting at The Wilderness and Spotsylvania, promoted to Brig. General from May 12 1864. Continued in operations against Richmond and Petersburg, his brigade distinguished in Battle of Peebles’ Farm. When IX Corps was reorganized, Hartranft was given command of new 3rd Div., consisting of newly raised Penna. regiments. Brevetted Major General by Grant for defeating Lee’s last offensive at Battle of Fort Stedman, bringing untested division from reserve position and counterattacking to recover captured fort.

In aftermath of Lincoln’s assassination, Hartranft was appointed both CO of Old Capitol Prison in Washington and as special provost marshal during trial of those accused in Lincoln’s assassination: George Atzerodt, David Herold, Lewis Paine (a/k/a/ Lewis Powell) , and Mary Surratt. The trial lasted May 9, 1865 until their conviction in late June. At 1:15 p.m. on July 7, 1865, Hartranft led the 4 to the gallows in what is now Fort Lesley McNair. When asked if the convicted had final statements, spiritual advisors of Atzerodt and Payne stated that both wished to thank him and officers and soldiers under him for kindness displayed during their incarceration. Following prayers for each prisoner, Gen. Hartranft read War Dept. order for the execution. The prisoners were then simultaneously executed by hanging.

Post-war, Hartranft became a Republican, appointed to serve in former general Gov. John W. Geary’s administration as Auditor General 1866-72. Elected governor 1872 as strong advocate of education, municipal reform, regulation of banking, improved industry and commerce, and reorganization of National Guard. Supported suffrage for African Americans, fought corrupt Simon Cameron  political machine, championed rights of workingmen. During his administration, revision of state constitution completed and ratified as Constitution of 1873. 5th commander-in-chief, Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) 1875-77, member of  Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States. During his 2nd term, economic depression, low wages and unemployment following industrial boom of early 1870s, resulted in national labor unrest and strikes culminating in the Great Railroad Strike of 1877. Serious civil disturbances incl. riots associated with railroad and general strikes of 1877 in cities incl. Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Reading & Scranton, and other incidents with “Molly Maguires” in anthracite coal regions. Hartranft called out state militia then Regular Army troops to maintain order. He later proposed recognition of labor unions and arbitration of claims.

After his term, he returned home to Montgomery County and became US Postmaster, then Philadelphia Port Collector 1881-85. Reappointed to command Pennsylvania National Guard which he had helped develop. An equestrian statue installed next to Pennsylvania Capitol Building in Harrisburg honors Hartranft, as are streets in Norristown, Montgomery County and elsewhere in the state.

Partly-printed DS J. F. Hartranft as Pennsylvania Auditor General, to State Treasurer, approving

payment of $20.61 to Mary Kinkle, mother of Peter Kinkle, deceased, for his services as private in

E Co., 1st Regt., Penna. Vols.  under Act of April 16, 1862; endorsements on verso.


Condition: Very good, some cancellation slashes withoput paper loss

Product Search

Product categories

Quick Links