Reconstruction and Retirement: Cases New and Old

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Joseph Holt served as judge advocate general of the U.S. Army until 1875, when he retired from the army and as the head of the Bureau of Military Justice. But Abraham Lincoln’s assassination and the conspirators’ trial continued to shadow him, particularly with regard to executed conspirator Mary Surratt and petitions of clemency submitted on her behalf. Holt’s correspondence documents his ongoing communications with and about individuals involved with the conspiracy investigations and trial, and efforts to vindicate his conduct and reputation throughout. The end of the war and the passage of time brought improved relations with family members, however, and retirement allowed him to spend more time in his gardens before his death in 1894.

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