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Covering almost a year of Loring’s service, I Held Lincoln describes the lieutenant’s command of the gunboat USS Wave, the Battle of Calcasieu Pass, the surrender of his ship, and his capture by the Confederates. He was incarcerated in Camp Groce, a deadly Confederate prison where he endured horrific conditions and abuse. Loring attempted to escape, evading capture for ten days behind enemy lines, only to be recaptured just a few miles from freedom. After an arduous second escape, he finally reached the safety of Union lines and gained his freedom.
On the night of April 14, 1865, Loring attended Ford’s Theater and witnessed one of the single most tragic events in American history: the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. After the shot rang out, Loring climbed into the presidential box and assisted the dying president, helping to carry him across the street to the Peterson House. Using Loring’s recently discovered private journal, Richard E. Quest tells this astonishing now-recovered story, giving insight into a little-known Confederate prison camp during the last days of the Civil War and providing much-deserved recognition to a man whose journey was nearly lost to American history.
“Gleaned from the actual documents of Lt. Benjamin Loring, I Held Lincoln tells the story of a Union sailor’s remarkable odyssey as he twice escapes from a Confederate prison, only to later find himself a player at Ford’s Theater at one of the most crucial events in American history. Richard Quest brings to life this extraordinary, fast-paced, and recently discovered story. I Held Lincoln could be The Conspirator’s prequel.”—Webster Stone, producer of The Conspirator
“A compelling account of capture, imprisonment, escape, ordeal, and survival, I Held Lincoln reads like quality fiction. The reader follows with intense interest the efforts of Union Navy Lieutenant Benjamin W. Loring to gain freedom from a Texas prison camp despite an array of daunting obstacles. Richard Quest’s ability to maintain the inherent drama and suspense of the story makes this book hard to put down.”—Edward G. Longacre, author of The Sharpshooters: A History of the Ninth New Jersey Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War
“Lt. Benjamin Loring was a naval combat veteran and POW who twice escaped his Confederate captors, enduring enormous hardships as he struggled to return to duty. Ironically, rather than being hailed as a hero, he found himself under attack for having surrendered his ship. Richard Quest’s book will finally correct the historical record, something Loring was not able to fully accomplish during his lifetime.”—Thomas R. Turner, professor of history emeritus at Bridgewater State University and editor of the journal Lincoln Herald