capt. Christian Rath


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Aug 7, 2008
Southern Michigan
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I did some research on the property about 2 miles from my home that was owned by this civil war captain Christian Rath in the mid to late 1800's. He was the executioner of all the lincoln asassanation conspirators including Mary Surratt, who was the first woman ever executed in the country. He lived here in Jackson and worked for the post office here after the executions. I found a newspaper article stating he had lost his mind and was found in a mail car "bereft of reason", apparently he was plagued with bad dreams of the execution.
CAPTAIN CHRISTIAN RATH (EXECUTIONER) - Captain Rath of the Seventeenth Michigan Infantry, First Division, Ninth Corps was assigned the duty of executioner by General Hartranft. Rath spent the night before the executions making the nooses that he would use the next day. After preparing the first three for the male prisoners, using a standard 7-8 turns, he became tired and only prepared Mary Surratt’s noose using 5 turns. He believed this would be adequate to do the job.

this link has more photos and tells the story in great detail

In the morning, he orchestrated the completion of the scaffold, drilled the soldiers assigned to spring the traps and repeatedly tested the scaffold traps, ropes and men to ensure all would work well together without fail.


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