All kids have done it — asked a buddy to back up against them to determine who was taller. Apparently president Abraham Lincoln carried the habit over into adulthood. Webb Garrison opens his book, Civil War Curiosities: Strange Stories, Oddities, Events, and Coincidences, with a short story about Lincoln’s peculiar habit of checking his height against other men.
“Headed for a visit with Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside, Lincoln stopped at Aquia Creek, Virginia, to review troops. Almost as soon as he entered the encampment, the Federal commander in chief spotted a lanky member of the Ninety-third Pennsylvania Regiment. Gesturing, the president let Mahlon Shaaber know that he wanted a word with him. ‘Turn around, young fellow,’ he is alleged to have said, ‘and put your back against mine while I take off my hat.'”
At six foot, six and one-half inches, Shaaber proved to be two-and-one-half inches taller than Honest Abe.