Civil War Clergy at Mount Auburn Cemetery: Jotham Horton

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By Bill McEvoy

In honor of Memorial Day, local historian Bill McEvoy has compiled histories of some of the Civil War clergy who are buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery. This is part four of 15.

Reverend Jotham Warren Horton was born in Nantucket, Massachusetts, in April 28, 1826. He was a descendant of General Joseph Warren who fell during the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Reverend Horton died August 5th, 1865, in New Orleans, Louisiana, killed, by a mob, praying, on his knees. He was attempting to quell a Pro-Slavery riot. He was carrying a white flag of truce when he was shot in his arm by police. The police shot him four more times, then crushed his skull with brick and a heavy club. He died a week later.

Reverend Horton, graduated from the Newton theological institution in 1859. He was ordained on September 15th, 1859. He was a Pastor at Milford, New Hampshire from 1859 to 1862.

In July 1866, he was the Pastor of the Coliseum Baptist Church in New Orleans. On July 30th, 1866, he had been requested to open the Union Convention with a prayer. 

The following account is from the Lewisburg Chronicle, Friday, November 16, 1866

“Moved by the warmest Christian sympathy for the Freedmen, the young Minister had gone South, with his wife, to give their best energy to their welfare.”

He was a man of sincere piety and a large heart; pure as a child, self-denying where duty concerned, to the extent that often made him suffer, and so peaceable, that though he was repeatedly insulted and even once fired upon, and conscious that was fatally marked, by malignant disloyaltists, he would never go armed.

After taking leave of his wife Mr. Horton preceded in the cars from his residence in Carrollton to the city.

Ever apt to look hopefully on the worst prospects, and he slow to suspect evil of his fellow men, he felt no fears injury for this day beyond perhaps forcible seizure and commitment a parish prison.

When he began is opening, prayer the clock rang out twelve o’clock.

Strongly and fervently his words came up breathing petitions for the peace of his country and the deliverance of the oppressed.

God hurt him but with that prayer his service work ended then as the sounding of the stroke of noon from the city clocks, and the opening of his prayer, the armed police filed out of the stations, 300 strong, and marched to the convention.

Some of them entered the hall during the prayer, a mob in the meantime rapidly collected around the door and hardly had the good men ordered the closing “Amen” when a miscreant fired a bullet at his head.

There was no doubt of the intentions of the officers in the mob. They assailed the windows and rushed at the doors saying kill him, kill him, yelled shoot every cursed Yankee in the house. Just then, all of the bells in the city began to toll at noon. 

It was the preconcerted signal for the slaughter to begin. 

The disloyalists ruffians rushed in with pistols, knives, and clubs and commenced their appointed work of murder.

Some of the convention’s members fell dead and many were mortally wounded in the hall, while a few, who could, fled. The union men saw that they were doomed.

Reverend Horton received five balls in his body and fell. Those balls were fired by policemen. Not satisfied with their work, they seized him battered his head with their billy clubs, stabbed him, then kicked and dragged him over the pavements to the first Police station. The mob followed behind cursing and trampling him with their shoes. Then thrusted him into a cell where he was left mangled and senseless.

Around the convention hall, and in the adjacent streets, hundreds of blacks lay weltering in their blood and the dead carts drove by, loaded with, warm corpses, and bodies of the wounded, still writhing with life all tumbled indiscriminately together.

In one of these carts the mangled body of Reverend Horton. After lying awhile, at the station, and under a stifling load of wounded blacks, his stomach was crushed by a blow from a heavy blank, as he was being taken to the Marine Hospital.

Having not heard from her husband, Mrs. Horton, she feared the worst. After roaming the streets without success, she hurried to the first police station and was told that he had been taken to the Charity Hospital. She stopped there and was told that he was sent to the Marine Hospital as the cart he was on appeared to contain only blacks. So, then she went to the Marine Hospital. 

When she arrived at the gate, she was refused entrance. She caught a glimpse of Doctor Harris, the head surgeon, whom she knew. She called out to him.

Doctor Harris could not give any positive assurance but immediately ordered her to be admitted.

She found her husband and sank inside exhausted on his bosom. He was bruised and a helpless massive flesh, his head was swollen to the size of two heads. His left arm was useless, and his right was shattered and mangled.

Through all this pain he recognized his wife he said wipe my face, Emma.

He gasped as if she had been bending over him ever since he fell.

Worn and brokenhearted the poor woman sat down next to her husband’s side and tried to strengthen herself for the task of soothing and comforting his last hours.

She knew too well that he could not live. She had searched for him 19 hours only to find him as he was.

Few comforts were to be found in that hospital, though the attendants seeing her distress, evidently meant to treat her kindly.  Reverend Horton, was given an operation called “trepanning.” That is the cracking of the skull, with a hammer and die, to relieve pressure.

The next morning, his mind began to wander, and fancied himself in his own pulpit. He began a prayer and asked Emma to finish it.

He lingered until the 6th day of his injury. When the morning of Sunday the 5th of August came, he remembered that he had an appointment to exchange pulpits the black brother in the city and said, Emma, we must send word to brother Milles that I cannot come. I do not feel quite well enough to speak.

On that Sunday, he invoked divine blessings. He gave out to hymn and sung, wounded and suffering as he was, his wife who wept as she thought of the melody of her own find voice, joining him that’s a request, half choked with tears. 

Again, he expressed his wish to close with the Lord Supper and immediately began the beautiful ceremony. 

His wife anxious to gratifying skillfully aided with such meager conveniences as were at hand, to carry out his touching fancy. 

With what seemed to be symbolic wine and bread “we both drink from the same cup.” 

Another hymn, a benediction, and the sufferer began to grow weak as if indeed his work was done. 

He said, I am going now Emma, he said I am going now, Emma. He whispered I’m sorry you cannot come with me. In the fall you’ll come. Then there were no more connected sentences, but incoherent syllables of prayer and whispers of saintly hope, In the veil – home yonder- goodbye, and at 6:00 o’clock, that Sabbath evening the gentle-spirited Reverend Horton fell asleep in Jesus.

Thus, perished a martyr to freedom and equal rights, as sincere and pure a man as God ever welcomed “through the great tribulation” to the immortal pleasures of his presence.”

Find the gravesites of the Civil War Clergy by entering their name here: Bill McEvoy can be reached at

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