Lincoln student recalls a “cross-eyed” gun: Newspaper Article

William O. Stoddard. Picture from

William O. Stoddard. Picture from

Looking in an old book in my library I discovered the following article folded inside it’s pages. It’s a newspaper clipping from The Detroit Free Press dated February 12, 1949:
                                        LINCOLN STUDENT RECALLS A “CROSS-EYED” GUN
                                                                     By Calvin Mayne
Abraham Lincoln once received help from the Angel Gabriel in running the Government.
And he once turned down a “cross-eyed gun” which had been offered to the Union Army to help win the Civil War. The gun had two barrels, pointing right and left. It was to be fired by cross-eyed men on gunboats which would capture both sides of the Mississippi River at the same time.
These were among the letters to Lincoln-whose 140th birthday is celebrated Saturday-opened by his personal secretary, William O. Stoddard.
Stoddard’s son, William Jr., of 140 Webb, still is active in the textile business at 75. He is also the author of several magazine articles on Lincoln.
He is using notes and stories left by his father to write the Lincoln secretary’s memoirs.
The elder Stoddard died in 1925 at the age of 90. He won Lincoln’s friendship as the first newspaper editor in the country to write an editorial urging Lincoln’s nomination.
Stoddard said that his father acted as Lincoln’s companion and sole bodyguard on the President’s trip to the theater or the offices of generals and statesmen. Stoddard’s father could recall nights when Lincoln would pace up and down his office until dawn while pondering Civil War decisions.
He said that Lincoln once remarked that without any occasional cause for laughter he would die. After the war, the elder Stoddard was appointed Federal marshal of Arkansas by Lincoln. He recalled the mourning in the South at the death of Lincoln. And once Stoddard’s father sat as his White House desk and observed a tearful old lady dressed in black.
“They told me he was homely.” she sobbed. “I think he has the most beautiful face I ever saw.”
The benevolent President had just pardoned her son, a soldier who had been condemned to death for sleeping at his post.
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