Included in this large archive are the images of Captain Blinn and his wife as well as a
detailed journal or diary kept by Captain Blinn while in prison. Also included is an archive of letters written while in
prison to his wife as well as the historic and important letter of his witnessing of the assassination of President
Lincoln. The archive is an extraordinary capsulation of this man’s experiences including two wartime diaries, 37
prisoner of war letters written from the actual prisons and of course the spectacular detailed letter about his
witnessing the Lincoln assassination. The Archive includes a great number of other pieces of ephemera and is truly
unique. No other such comprehensive archive involving both prison life and witness to the assassination is known to
exist to our knowledge.
The Captain Leonard Blinn, Archive
Leonard B Blinn (1837-1924)
Best known in the [Toledo] community as the man who caught Mary Lincoln’s handkerchief the night President
Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theater (from online bio)
At a young age he sailed the Great Lakes. In 1859 he married Caroline Seabert. Four children were born to them.
Leonard, Lucy, Carrie Blinn Stiger and Agnes Blinn Dexter.
A fine small leather-bound Bible is inscribed “presented to L.B. Blinn by his wife Carrie M. Blinn” and
beneath that is another inscription” …” he enlisted in the three months service April 1861, and it was
returned to me in September 1863 after he was taken prisoner of war.”
There are 2 large fine albumin photographs of Capt. Blinn, one with his wife and one with another Capt. Ring.
The Civil War began when Blinn worked for the Erie Railroad. He enlisted with the 21st Ohio Infantry at the first call.
He became lieutenant and eventually re-enlisted with the 100th Ohio infantry becoming captain and given command
of Company A, the 23rd Corps of Army of the Cumberland.
An 1863 diary has scattered bureaucratic notes as to supplies for his company but the 1st 30 days while
camped at Danville Kentucky give detailed accounts. Jan 3, 1863…. Just received the president’s
Emancipation Proclamation with the joyful news that Rosecrans has whipped Bragg…. Jubilee in camp!”
In September of 1863 he was captured at Telford Station, Tennessee and sent to Libby Prison until May 1864. While
being transported to Macon, Georgia he and Captain Hunt sawed out of the boxcar they were in. They were
recaptured and taken to the Macon prison. His account of capture and transport and life in prisons is maintained in
the diary from the day he was captured September 8,1863 sporadically till June 20, 1864. There are also 37 letters
he wrote home from various prisons, most with original envelopes and postal marking.
The POW diary: 6 pages of his escape April 16, 1864, 11pm from cars on train near Columbia, SC; He and
companion were on the lam for 5 days, encountered slaves, were given dinner by Confederate widow, whose
husband in the 25th Alabama was killed in battle. She was unaware that they were escaped Yankees,
questioned by Confederates thinking they were deserters, finding out that Sherman was not yet near Atlanta.
Most people they encountered were very despondent about the war. Blinn and his companion had traveled
close to 50 miles but finally while hiding could hear some Confederates looking for them and heard them say
that their dogs were on the track. “We saw very plainly that we were gone cases for when we raised up the
men saw us and we went directly to them, preferring to be taken by human beings than by dogs…. Their
captors were good to them and “he lodged us in jail and gave us a splendid supper. 22nd slept very well last
night and this morning Mr. Wilder[jailor] gave us ham and eggs for breakfast, and took us out under the
shade trees to wait for the train that is to convey us to our prison…23rd got off the train the same night….25th
Macon prison, Ga…. This is a hard looking place; it is worse than Libby.
From Macon he was transferred to another prison in Charleston. A yellow fever epidemic broke out and the prisoners
were moved to Columbia, South Carolina. He escaped again and was recaptured. He finally reached union lines on
Christmas morning 1864.
Captain Blinn was on hand the night President Lincoln was shot in Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C. The
handkerchief he caught that night was returned to the First Lady.
His stunning 1st hand account of Lincoln’s assassination he conveys in a 3-page letter to his wife the
morning of the death.
“Long before this reaches you will have heard of the nation’s calamity in the assassination of that o good
man and the father of our country, Abraham Lincoln. It has so happened that I was one of the spectators…I
saw the president and his wife enter their private box…
….” I heard the report of the pistol, the shrieks of Mrs. Lincoln, and saw the assassin jump on to the stage
and disappear through the rear of the theatre. His works sic semper tyrannis he spoke very distinctly as he
jumped from the box where he committed the murder” …
Such an excitement followed as I hope I may never witness again. It was found out instantly that the
president was assassinated. Women fainted and the police and military authorities were arresting every
suspicious person. The assassin has not been arrested yet. I will know him if I see him again.
The president expired this morning, the city is draped in mourning, bells are tolling and there is great
indignation against all rebel sympathizers…I am heartsick and cannot write more. Death to all traders is
heard on every corner.
…I saw the president after he was shot, also the pistol that he was shot with….”
In addition to the 2 wartime diaries, the 37 prisoner of war letters, there are a couple of other wartime letters, more
than 125 postwar family letters. Also, pre and post war Blinn family photographs.
Blinn wrote to his congressmen and 1867 telling of the atrocities of the Confederates to prisoners of war in detail. A
copy of that letter is in the archive along with transcriptions of letters and diaries, maps showing his positions during
Photograph of Capt. Blinn with Capt. George Rings also of 100th Ohio Volunteer Infantry and was captured and held
in various prisons together. George Rings went into army with brown hair but came out with white hair due to
deprivations of prison camps for such an extended period.
George Rings enlisted on 8/6/1862, on 9/1/1862 he was commissioned Captain Co C 100th Ohio infantry. Blinn was
captain of company A.
POW 9/8/1863 Limestone Station, TN (Confirmed at Macon, Ga & Columbia, SC)
(Voted in Presidential Election at Camp Sorghum, Columbia, SC)
Monumental archive of POW letters, few comparable. Several Lincoln assassinations letters have sold for $30,000-
$40,000 in past. But no archive of soldier who suffered for over a year and a half in multiple prison of war camps and
such a spectacular 1st hand account of that night at Ford’s theatre exists.
The Perrysburg Blinn family made a lot of history. Clara Blinn is famously remembered as being captured by Indians
in 1868 with her 2-year-old son Will and later found dead by George Custer’s men after battle of Washita. Her
desperate note of capture is another great paper relic. “Clara Blinn Letter” institutionalized in Independence, MO.
• The following is a detailed inventory of the Archive.
Grouping of Photographs, Letters, Diaries, Journal and Memorabilia from Captain Leonard B Blinn
Company A, 100th Ohio Volunteer Infantry, 23rd Army Corps. Army of the Ohio -Captured at the Battle of Telford
Station, Virginia Limestone Station, IN, Sept 8, 1863, by Confederate General Jones.
Includes an eye-witness letter describing the assassination of Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theater.
1) Bible, Copywrite 1859 – Presented to L.B. Blinn by his wife Carrie M. Blinn April 1861. Inscribed, “When he
enlisted in the three-month service, April 1861, and it was returned to me in September 1863 after he was
taken “Prisoner of War”.
2) Diary / Pocket Ledger / Roll Book / Enlistment book from June 8th – November 24, 1863 – for Co. A, 100th
Ohio Infantry -Example Clothes, shoes, etc.
a. Diary is written from Libby Prison – from October 1863 – discuses rations, letter receipts,
Thanksgiving cold weather, General Morgan visit, Confederates holding packages, Union raiders
near, prisoner, Lt Hammond was shot in the head by guard.
3) 1863 Pocket Diary – Starts Jan 1, 1863, at Danville, KY in camp – Jan. 30, 1863, Mentions Emancipation
Proclamation / Rosencrans has whipped Bragg / Captain Blinn very sick and rides in ambulance / bitter cold
March / snowed 15 inches / Court Marshall / mentions several people associated the regiment.
4) Over 125 family post war letters
2 -Large albumen prints of Captain Leonard B. Blinn in uniform and Caroline S. Blinn
Large albumen print of Captain Leonard B. Blinn and Captain Ring in uniform – 1865.
Large albumen print of daughter, Carrie Blinn – Taken in 1866
Large albumen print of L.B. Blinn’s home in Toledo, OH
Care de Visite of Captain Blinn
Carte de Visite of Captain Blinn
2 Post War Bust Portraits of L.B. Blinn
Post war photo of L.B. Blinn’s home
Post war photo of L.B. & Caroline Blinn
Imperial size silver-gelatin print of L.B. Blinn
Caroline Blinn in her later years
War Time Letters
Cover with US Stamp Letter Captain Blinn and another person – Mailed from Frankfort, KY Feb 18, 1863
Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Libby Prison Nov. 18, 1863
Cover & Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Libby Prison Sept. 14, 1863 - Gives names of others from the
100th Ohio that were captured and their status.
Cover & Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Libby Prison Nov. 1, 1863
Update letter - discusses needed food and supplies with instructions on how to send.
Cover & Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Libby Prison Nov. 13, 1863
-List food items needed. Hope of an exchange.
Cover w stamp & Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Libby Prison Dec 9, 1863
-3 months since capture - discouraging news of exchange - more instructions on needed food and clothing –
Some insight in his daily life.
Cover & Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Libby Prison Dec. 10, 1863
-Ask wife to write more. Do not send any packages, rainy weather, and thirteen weeks since capture.
Cover & Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Libby Prison Dec. 20, 1863
-Mentions receipt of wife's letter. No prospect of exchange. Hoping for moderate winter. Four months since
Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Libby Prison Jan. 1, 1864
-Tells of Christmas & New Years with Captain Hunt. Celebrated by cooking a chicken pie and oysters. Ask
wife for more provisions.
Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Libby Prison Jan. 20, 1864
-Received four letters from wife. Asked for overcoat. Still hopes of exchange. He describes himself as a ragged
"lousy" (body Lise [sic] looking fellow.
Cover & Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Libby Prison Jan. 24, 1864
-Sunday. Mentions the reading the Bible, bright weather and he would enjoy a long walk. Four men have
died. References them by name.
Cover & Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Libby Prison Feb. 1, 1864
-Receipt of wife's letter. Rebel authorities have issued an order allowing only one letter with six lines.
Cover & Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Libby Prison Feb. 8, 1864
-Lt Ballou of the regiment died in prison. Misses his daughter. Write often.
Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Libby Prison Feb. 14, 1864
-Receipt of two letters. He has eaten all the corn bread. Ask not to send boxes of provisions because they
are not arriving.
Cover & Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Libby Prison Feb. 22, 1864
-Ask about property at home to buy. Ask wife's father to be on the lookout.
Cover & Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Libby Prison March 6, 1864
-Six months since taken prisoner. No hopes of release. Received several letters from wife.
Cover & Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Libby Prison March 13, 1864
-Haven't received boxes from home. Disappointed that an exchange has not occurred. "I'm as lean as a
Cover & Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Libby Prison March 21, 1864
-Some officers have been exchanged. Hope he can get home soon.
Cover (U.S. Ship 3 cent) Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Libby Prison .. March 28, 1864
-Many happy recipients from the contents of boxes of provisions. Seven months since confinement.
Enlistment going well at home.
Cover & Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Libby Prison April 4, 1864
-Glorious news of exchange. Suppose to occur in less than a month. Hope for a furlough once released.
Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Libby Prison April 11, 1864
-Exchange news is discouraging. No letters from home. High water and flooding in the prison basement.
Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Libby Prison April 20, 1864
-Hope wife has paid all bills and mortgage on the house. Lt Duncan Forsyth shot dead two weeks ago by an
accidental discharge of a gun in the hands of a rebel guard. His remains were sent to Toledo. Poor fellow had no
warning. I stood but a few feet from him. The ball entered in the left eye and came out at the back of his head. His
brains and skull were scattered all over his chair and the floor. It killed him instantly. He hardly uttered a groan. It was
the most humble thing I ever witnessed.
Cover & Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Libby Prison May 2, 1864
-Eight months since capture. Hoped to be out by now. Growing old very fast. Talks about having the blues
throughout the day.
Cover (Old Comfort, VA post mark) & Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Danville Prison No. 3 May 9, 1864
-Removal from Richmond. Quarters are miserable. Expect to be sent to Georgia. Doesn't know how to direct
wife's letters. Instructs wife to write often and direct through Richmond.
Cover (Old Comfort, VA post mark) & Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Camp Macon, GA
- May 29, 1864
Left Danville on the 11th for this place. Captain Hunt and Blinn escaped on the train ride by getting
out of a hole cut in the cars . We got out when the train was running. We were out five days when we were
recaptured. We suffered a great deal for want of water and eatables. They caught us by putting the dogs on our
tracks and running us down: If it had not been for the hounds, we would have been home in the middle of June. Asa
got out the same night and he was recaptured. Many officers are sick, and this prison is worse than Libby.
Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at Prison Yard, Charleston, S.C. Aug. 2, 1864
-Arrived on the 29th of July with 600 officers. Quarters are in the jail. Some officers have been exchanged.
The Confederate officers are courteous and the guard around us are kind set of men.
Hopes for an exchange. Not sure he can survive for much longer.
Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at C.S. Military Prison, Charleston, S.C. Aug. 13, 1864
-Permitted to write. Three months since receipt of wife's letters. Asked for money to be deposited in City
Bank so he can draw a draft against it. Health improving.
Cover & Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at C.S. Military Prison, Charleston, S.C. Aug. 28, 1864
-Four months since receipt of a letter. Health not good. Asked for a $10 gold piece and a $20 green-back.
No boxes allowed.
Cover (Port Royal, SC post mark) Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at C.S. Military Prison, Charleston, S.C.
Sept. 4, 1864
-Still haven't received a letter over four months from his wife. Received letter from Capt. Hunt. Capt.
McWilliams exchanged. Four days shy of his one year anniversary of captivity. Sends love to his wife and daughter.
Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at C.S. Military Prison, Charleston, S.C. Sept. 13, 1864
-Finally received letters from wife. No prospect of getting released. Gave instructions to his wife for specific
clothing and pain killer, soap paper and envelopes. Haven't received any money yet.
Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at C.S. Military Prison, Charleston, S.C. Sept. 17, 1864
-Gave an update on officers from home. Asked father for $25 or more. More instructions on how to send
Cover (Port Royal, SC post mark) & Letter to father from Captain Blinn while at C.S. Military Prison, Charleston, S.C.
Sept. 17, 1864
-Asked father for money and he gave the same list of needed clothing, etc. Health okay considering.
Cover (Port Royal, SC post mark) & Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at C.S. Military Prison, Charleston, S.C.
Sept. 28, 1864
-Wrote for clothing and money but none has arrived. $10 gold piece from father made it to him. Two other
offers exchanged but no prospect for Blinn. Sends love to wife and daughter.
Cover (Port Royal, SC post mark) & Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at C.S. Military Prison, Columbia, S.C.
Oct. 16, 1864
-Moved to Charleston. Wrote for clothing and in need. Almost naked. Asked for beans and onions. Officer
Asa died yesterday. Very sad news. Hoping to be released soon.
Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while at C.S. Military Prison, near Columbia, S.C. Nov. 18, 1864
-Hoping wife is able to draw his pay. No money has been received. Asked for a specific box of food items
since packages are no allowed. Also, in need of clothing. Asked for his wife and daughter's photographs.
Cover w 3 cent stamp & Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while in Washington, DC April 12, 1864
-The war department will not pass any person from any southern ports. Blinn hopes he will be returning
home soon. In less than a week or two. Could not get passage.
Letter to wife from Captain Blinn while in Washington, DC April 15, 1864
-Captain Blinn personally describes in great detail the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and the
aftermath as the police and military authorities searched for the killer.
Post War letter dated Oct 21, 1867 to Wm. Munger, Findley, OH
- Captain Blinn letter overviewing the treatment while a Confederate prisoner. A very good recap detailing the
treatment, conditions, etc.
Reunion handkerchief - 10th annual reunion of the 100th Ohio - Sept. 2, 1885, Reunion Ribbon - Blue- 100th Ohio
Post war newspaper clippings
Dry goods receipt Perrysburg, OH 1863
Dry goods receipt Miller & Co. Oct 18, 1865
Merchant Insurance Co. of Hartford receipt August 1863
American Express receipt Sept. 11, 1865
Church Board of Trustees letter
Indenture - Pre-printed April 1862
1860 - Handwritten dry goods receipt
Marriage certificate 1882
1865 - Treasury office Wood Co. Ohio
12+ letters written by or on Erie railroad letterhead letter Five Wartime envelopes
Blueprint of Blinn Farm