A Spy at the Soldiers' Home

by Erin Carlson Mast

On September 5th, 1862, General McClellan ordered a military guard placed around the Soldiers’ Home to protect Lincoln, but due to a mix-up the troops originally assigned to guard the president wound up at “Soldiers’ Rest.” The next day, the 150th Pennsylvania Volunteers, Company K and D were sent to Soldiers’ Home, and stayed with Lincoln for the rest of his presidency. The Presidential Guard not only protected Lincoln but also the strategically important Soldiers’ Home. During his first week guarding the president, Pvt. William Cutter of Company K, wrote to his mother about apprehending a spy on the Soldiers’ Home grounds:

“We took a spy yesterday. He was passed through to see the president and went on to the top of the soldiers home, took out his spy glays and was looking at our forts….”

The “top” of the Soldiers’ Home refers to the tower on the main building, seen in this 1860s lithograph.

Ms. Erin Mast is the curator at President Lincoln’s Cottage.
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