On July 7, 1865 at 13.02 p.m. a terrified Mary
Surratt was led into the courtyard ahead of the 3
other Lincoln conspirators. The 42 years old
brunette wore a long-sleeved black alpaca dress
and a black veil that concealed her face
completely. Her dress fell to the top of her high
black shoes. Mary could barely walkand needed
soldiers and her priest to support her. Walking
over the courtyard to the gallows Mary's dark
eyes firmly fixed to the toes of her shoes.
She tried not to set her eyes on the cheerful
crowd, the especially constructed wooden
gallows, large enough to hang all four
simultaneously or at the four crude coffins,
adapted from gun boxes, that were placed near
the gallows. Above all she avoided to look at the
looped and knotted rope that was waiting for her.
It was an extremely hot day. Mary, heavily
seducted had to sit down on a chair while waiting
on the platform. A parasol was also held over her
head. Finally standing - assisted - on the platform,
her hands, calves and feet bound, she was asked
if she had any last words. Tears slipped down her
pale cheeks as she whispered softly, "Please don't
let me fall".
A white hanging cap was pulled down over her head and
the noose was tightened around her neck. At 1.23 p.m. the
supporting posts was knocked away from underneath the
gallows. The trap doors swung down, dropping her body 5
to 6 feet. As she reached the end of the rope, she jerked
upward like a shudder, then settled into a slow swaying
motion. Mary made no other motion except a nerveous
twiching of her hands.
Mary were allowed to hang for nearly 25 minutes before
she was cut down. At the time the rope was cut, Mary's
head fell forward upon her breast. This made someone
standing by make the heartless remark, "She makes a good
She was placed on on top of the coffin. She was examined
by a doctor and declared dead. Her neck was not broken,
instead she had strangled to death hanging suspended from
the rope. She was laid in the coffin wearing her dress as
well as the hood. Only the rope was removed and sold.
Left: Mary's lifeless body. Her contours of her face is almost visible under the hood, and
clearly her breasts lacked support. Her neck was not broken, but after a few seconds of initial
spasms Mary showed no further signs of life.
In 1865 the press described Mary as:
"Fair, Fat and Forty". However, her hair
was still brown and shiny.