For those of you who have been following the story of Thomas P. Lowry, the National Archives, and accusations of tampering with documents, I have a little exercise for you. For the pardon of Patrick Murphy of the Second California Infantry was not the only pardon Lowry reported that Abraham Lincoln made on April 14, 1865. That same day, according to Lowry, Lincoln pardoned Bradford Hambrick of Alabama.
This one may be more interesting to prove, short of a trip to the National Archives … because Hambrick’s name, unlike Murphy’s, does not pop up in the Basler index (nor in the two volumes that followed the publication of the original series). Yet Bradford Hambrick certainly existed, and in fact was somewhat notorious. According to this source, he was born in 1814, and lived until 1891. He was a rabid Confederate. In 1863, he was captured by Union soldiers (E. M. McCook to William H. Sinclair, August 26, 1863, OR, Series I, volume 30, part 3, page 179). He was tried by a Union military commission on charges related to his use of force and intimidation against loyal Alabama unionists, and according to Edward Steers, he was convicted, sentenced to a year in the penitentiary, and fined $1,000. The Richmond Daily Dispatch mentioned his arrest in its March 21, 1864 edition; in his history of the war and Reconstruction in Alabama, Walter Fleming says (page 107) that he was tried in January 1864, sentenced to a year at hard labor, and that if he didn’t pay the fine on question (which Fleming puts at $2,000), he would serve 1000 more days in jail. However, the orders documenting that result did not appear until October 4, 1864 (General Orders, No. 144, Department of the Cumberland). Hambrick’s name pops up elsewhere, and the whole he seems to have been a nasty customer.
Lowry mentions the case on page 216 of his 1999 book, “Don’t Shoot That Boy!”: Abraham Lincoln and Military Justice — the book that includes the discredited claim about Patrick Murphy’s pardon as having been issued on April 14, 1865. Using the search engines provided through Google and Amazon, I’m guessing that there is an illustration on page 217 that pertains to this case; the file, according to Lowry, is to be found at the National Archives in Record Group 153 (Records of the Judge Advocate General’s Office [Army]), entry 15, file LL 2953.
At this point I turn the exercise over to you, the readers of this blog. What happened? Fill out (and correct) the story. And, of especial interest, did Lincoln pardon Hambrick on April 14, 1865?
Have fun … and keep us informed.