The Lost Museum Archive
Robert Cobb Kennedy
This photographic portrait of Robert Cobb Kennedy, the only person captured and convicted in the 1864 Confederate plot to burn down New York City, was taken on March 23, 1865, two days before his execution. A few hours before he went to the gallows, Kennedy sent copies of the photo, along with locks of his hair, to friends and family in the South. A Louisiana native and Confederate officer, Kennedy escaped from Johnson’s Island Military Prison on October 4, 1864, and made his way to Canada. There, he joined with a small group of Confederate officers who had been dispatched to Canada by Confederate President Jefferson Davis to plan military raids that could be launched at the Union from politically neutral Canadian soil. Kennedy participated in the plot to burn down several public places in New York City. Prior to his execution he claimed that the attempt to set fire to the American Museum was "simply a reckless joke . . . There was no fiendishness about it. The Museum was set on fire by merest accident, after I had been drinking, and just for the fun of a scare." He and his fellow "incendiaries" escaped to Canada after their plan failed, and Kennedy alone was captured when he tried to slip back into the United States at Detroit. He was tried, convicted, and executed on March 25, 1865, at Fort Lafayette in New York harbor.
Source: Nat Brandt, The Man Who Tried to Burn New York http://www.iuniverse.com/bookstore/book_detail.asp?isbn=1583483462