by R. Michael Mershon
This is not 1865, nor is the plotter John Wilkes Booth. The year is 1861, and there is a
plot to kill the President-Elect on his way to Washington D.C. As was the case in those times,
railroads had competing lines and station points, even in the same cities. Most notable in this
case was the city of Baltimore, Maryland. In the case of Lincoln’s trip to Washington, he had to
leave one train, travel several blocks, and enter another train to complete the trip.
In Baltimore, there were several anti-Northern militias. Their plan was to kill Lincoln as
he transferred from one train to another. The schedule was well-known, as it was published in
all the papers. The plan was to create a disturbance in another part of town, thus drawing the
attention of the police away from the President-Elect’s movements, making it easier for the
other militias to move in and kill Lincoln.
As it turned out, Northern spies had infiltrated the “sesesh” militias, and knew of their
plans. The plans were altered, with the help of the presidents of the railroads, to make the train
switch in the middle of the night. This meant that, by the time the militias were to assemble
and carry out their plot, the train with the President-Elect would already be on its way from
Baltimore to Washington.
To foil the plot, Kate Warne would enter the train with Lincoln posing as her invalid
brother, along with two men to assure the trip would go according to plan. The two men were
Ward Hill Lamon and Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, the
person who had planned the entire diversion. Kate Warne was the first woman detective hired
by Pinkerton and later became an instructor for detectives in the company.
The plan was not discovered, and the plotters were arrested, except for the “brains” of
the plot, a man by the name of Cypriano Ferrandini. This person had an office in the basement
of Barnum’s Hotel in Baltimore. He was the barber in the hotel. Having failed in the plot, he
continued his barber shop, always advertising for assistants (only whites). He died in
December, 1910. Had this plot succeeded, the entire history of the nation would have been