Pursuit and Death of John Wilkes Booth.
by Prentiss Ingraham
Originally published in The Century, January, 1890
JOHN WILKES BOOTH was my schoolmate in Maryland, many years ago; and by a strange coincidence three of my particular friends were concerned, in one way or another, with his pursuit and death. Two of them were Confederate officers—Major M. B. Ruggles, son of General Daniel Ruggles of the old army, and Lieutenant A. R. Bainbridge, both of whom, with Captain Jett, also of Mosby’s command, met Booth and Herold in their flight and aided them to cross the Rappahannock. The other friend is Captain E. P. Doherty, who commanded the detachment of the 16th New York Cavalry that captured the fugitives. From the lips of all three I have heard accounts of the incidents that they witnessed, and the narratives that follow are given in the words of Major Ruggles and Captain Doherty. [i]
Major Ruggles’s Narrative.
AT the close of the civil war, Colonel Mosby, to whose command I belonged, surrendered to General Hancock, at Millwood, Virginia. In company with two comrades, A. R. Bainbridge, now in business in New York, and William Jett, now dead, I started for my home in King George County, Virginia. We had heard from United States officers of the assassination of Mr. Lincoln, and that the assassin had been captured in Washington, and little dreamed, when we rode up to the bank of the Rappahannock River, that we were there to come face to face with John Wilkes Booth.
Port Conway is on the King George side of the river, there about three hundred yards wide, and opposite Port Royal. The ferry was owned by a man named Rollins, but the scow was run—that is, poled across—by Peyton Washington, a negro. The scow was on the other side of the river when we rode up, and I observed there a wagon, drawn by two very wretched-looking horses. In the wagon were two men. On seeing us approach, one of them came towards us, and, finding that we were Confederate soldiers, said that his name was Boyd, and that his brother had been wounded severely in the leg while escaping from prison, where they had been for some time. He furthermore said that their negro driver, Lucas, refused to take them any farther, and that they were anxious to get on their way, and asked our aid. I at once said we would help them; and while discussing the speedy coming of the scow, the other got out of the wagon, and walking with evident pain, with the aid of a rude crutch, came towards us. He apparently mistrusted his companion, for as he came forward he said, ‘I suppose you have been told who I am?’ Thinking he meant that Herold had told us they were Confederate soldiers, escaped from prison, I answered in the affirmative. Instantly he dropped his weight back upon his crutch, and drawing a revolver said sternly, with the utmost coolness, ‘Yes, I am John Wilkes Booth, the slayer of Abraham Lincoln, and I am worth just $175,000 to the man who captures me.’[ii] We were greatly surprised, and yet the coolness of the man won our admiration; for we saw that he was wounded, desperate, and at bay. His face was haggard, pinched with suffering, his dark eyes sunken, but strangely bright, and though he had shaved off his mustache, upon his lip and face was a beard of some ten days’ growth.
In response to his defiant words I said that we had been told that Lincoln’s slayer had been captured; but that, though we did not sanction his act as an assassin, we were not men to take ‘blood money’; and that having promised his friend, who proved to he Herold, to take them across the river to a place of safety, we would do so. Though it is contrary to the general belief of the people of the North, I believe that had the war then been going on, Booth, instead of finding an asylum in the South, would have been taken and surrendered to the United States by the Confederate Government.
Booth replaced his weapon at my words, and, thanking us, said he was utterly unable to walk. I dismounted, and we lifted him upon my horse—a fact that seemed to give the saddle and bridle a great pecuniary value, as I learned through correspondence with Mr. Barnum; though they were never exhibited as relics, and are now at my brother’s home in Virginia, there kept as souvenirs of my ‘days with Mosby.’
Booth and Herold both seemed to be the worse for their exposure and hardships of the past few days. Booth wore a black soft hat, dark clothes, one cavalry boot,— the one on his wounded leg having been cut off,—and his weapons were a carbine, two revolvers, and a knife, the blade of the latter bearing the stain of blood, for with it he had wounded Major Rathbone. I noticed that his wounded leg was greatly swollen, inflamed, and dark, as from bruised blood, while it seemed to have been wretchedly dressed, the splints being simply pasteboard rudely tied about it. That he suffered intense pain all the time there was no doubt, though he tried to conceal his agony, both physical and mental.
When the scow arrived Peyton Washington ferried us across the river. After a ride of three miles we came to the Garrett farm, where we asked for shelter for the fugitives, which was granted. We also remained all night near Garrett’s, sleeping in the woods, and the next day Herold went with us to Bowling Green, where we left Jett.[iii]
The next day, Herold having decided upon the best course to pursue in his flight, Bainbridge and myself accompanied him back to Garrett’s. We found Booth lying on the grass, in front of the house, and sitting by his side I heard from his lips his version of the tragic conspiracy, his fatal shot, his motives, escape, and flight up to his coming to the Garretts’. In answer to my questions he spoke quietly, repressing now and then a groan of pain, and showing emotion and stern defiance at times. He said, in substance, that the plot had been to capture Mr. Lincoln and carry him a prisoner into the Confederacy, for he believed that by such an act the war could be brought to an end, as the South could dictate terms with such a hostage. Failing in this, he decided at the last moment, as it were, to strike deadly blows at Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Seward, and General Grant. In the plot to kill, Payne[iv] alone was implicated with him, not even Her-old knowing what was to be done. Atzerodt knew nothing of the intended assassination, nor did, according to Booth’s statement to me, any other, excepting Payne. The name of Mrs. Surratt was not mentioned by him. He said that Payne was to strike a death blow at Secretary Seward, and he, favored by the fact that President Lincoln and General Grant were to attend the theater together, was to kill both of them. General Grant’s having been called away alone saved his life, for, said Booth, ‘I would have made no failure with either, as I had laid my plans for success only.’ That Andrew Johnson might appear to be implicated in the plot of assassination, Booth said that he had left that morning a note at the hotel where the Vice-President lived, to compromise him. He had no idea, he said, from the information received about Washington, that the war had really ended; for had he not believed that it would have been kept up by the South, he would not have struck the blow as he did. After getting safely out of Washington his intention was to cross the line, as quickly as possible, into the Confederacy. Joining Herold at a rendezvous, they had ridden hard through the night to gain a place of safety; but having a broken leg, and learning after several days, through the papers, that the war was really at an end, he determined to make his way to the silver mines of Mexico, feeling that the South would be no place of refuge for him. It has been said that Booth had plenty of money with him; but he showed me three five-dollar bills, all that he had, excepting a bill of exchange; while Herold had not as much. I asked him why he did not attempt to get to Europe, and his answer was that there was no asylum for such as he where monarchs ruled, as they feared their own lives might be in danger from the example he had set.
It is generally believed that Herold shot his own and Booth’s horse; but Booth told me that after weighting them down they led them into the Potomac the night they embarked in the boat to cross, and drawing their heads over the gunwale cut their throats and saw them sink from sight. This would account for the fact that their bodies were never found.[v]
Booth seemed to feel that he had been spurred on to the deed through a duty he owed the country to bring the war to an end, and he said that he would never be taken alive. If he had not broken his leg he could readily have distanced all pursuit. He was without doubt disappointed at the reception he met in Virginia, and said that he was prepared to meet any fate. The calm courage of the man in the midst of his great peril, and while racked by suffering, impressed me in spite of myself, for there was no braggadocio about him ; simply a determination to submit to the inevitable, parleying when it should become necessary to do so. The few extracts he read me from his diary showed this.
From the examination I made of his broken leg, aided by some experience I had had with wounds, I feel confident that amputation would have been necessary to save his life, and perhaps that would not have prevented a speedy death.
Soon after my long conversation with Booth, Bainbridge and myself bade him and Herold good-by and went on our way, remaining that night in the pines, and next day going to Robb’s, where we learned that a company of United States cavalry were scouring the country and had captured the fugitives in Garrett’s barn. Knowing the barn well, and judging from all the circumstances connected with the burning of it, I feel convinced that Sergeant Boston Corbett has a reputation undeserved as the slayer of Mr. Lincoln’s assassin. From the spot where Sergeant Corbett was he could not have seen Booth where he stood, and certainly could not have been able to shoot him in the hack of the head. Having asked Captain Doherty to fall back fifty paces with his men and give him a chance to come out, and very properly and naturally being refused his request by that gallant officer, deserted by Herold, the barn on fire, and seeing that he must perish in the flames or be taken to Washington and hanged, Booth, hopeless, alone, and at bay, placed his pistol to the back of his head, and took his own life. No one saw Corbett fire, and one chamber of Booth’s revolver held in his hand was empty, and I am by no means alone in the belief that he killed himself.
Learning that Jett was a prisoner, and that we were to be arrested, tried, and hanged, as aiders and abetters, Bainbridge and myself stood not on the order of going, but went at once. Making our way into Essex County and crossing to Westmoreland, we went to our home up in King George County. Some ten days after, I was arrested at night by a squad of United States cavalry. Bainbridge was also captured. We were taken to Washington and placed in the Old Capitol Prison. We were not alone in our misery, however, for Dr. Stewart, at whose house Booth had stopped, William Lucas, the negro who had driven him to the ferry, and a number of others, were there, among them being Jett, who had escaped from Captain Doherty, and had been recaptured at his home in Westmoreland County.
From Booth’s own words to me as he lay on the grass in front of Garrett’s house, I feel assured that in the excitement of the times there were some innocent ones who a were punished for the crimes of Booth and Payne.
After the trial, by a strange mistake I was sent to Johnson’s Island, where as a Confederate prisoner I had passed half a year; but after a few days spent there I was returned to Washington, and after taking the oath of allegiance I was released.
M. B. Ruggles.
Captain Doherty's Narrative.
ABOUT the hour 014 P.M. April 24,1865, when Booth and Herold were taken by their newly made Confederate friends to the Garrett farm, where Booth was killed and Herold captured, I was seated, with another officer of the 16th New York Cavalry, on a bench in the park opposite the White House. There I received the following orders from a messenger :
HEADQUARTERS, DEPARTMENT or WASHINGTON, April 24, 1865.
Commanding Officer 16th New York Cavalry. Sir: You will at once detail a reliable and discreet commission officer with twenty-five men, well mounted, with three days' rations and forage, to report at once to Colonel L. C. Baker, Agent of the War Department, at 211 Pennsylvania Ave. Command of General C. C. Augur.—J. C. SEWELL, A. A. A. Gen'l.
In accordance with the foregoing order First Lieutenant E. P. Doherty[vi]. is hereby detailed for the duty, and will report at once to Colonel Baker, 211 Pennsylvania Ave. —N. B. SWITZER, Colonel 16th New York Cavalry, Bvt. Brig. Gen'l, U. S. A.
I proceeded to the barracks, had ‘boots and saddles’ sounded, and in less than half an hour had reported to Colonel Baker. I took the first twenty-five men in the saddle, Sergeant Boston Corbett being the only member of my own company. Colonel Baker handed me photographs of the assassins of President Lincoln. He told me no troops had yet been in Fredericksburg, but that I must reach that vicinity with all dispatch. He introduced me to E. J. Conger and L. B. Baker, of the detective force, and said they would accompany me. I proceeded down to the Sixth street wharf, where I found the steamer John S. Ide, and directed Captain Wilson to move down to Aquia Creek and to Belle Plain. After the detachment had landed I directed the captain of the boat to move off to a place of safe anchorage and await my return. Should Inot return before 6 p.m. on the 26th he was to go back to Washington and report to Captain Allen, assistant quartermaster. I proceeded directly south until I struck the main road to Fredericksburg. Here I halted at 4 a.m. A negro informed me that a regiment of cavalry had passed to Fredericksburg the previous evening, going along on the north side of the Rappahannock River. I then determined to push down and go up on the south side, where no troops had been.
The detectives asked for a detail of four men and a sergeant to scour the country, while I with the rest of the men continued on towards the Rappahannock. The detectives returned about 3 p.m. without any clue to the whereabouts of the assassins. I went to the ferry at Port Conway and saw Mrs. Rollins, the ferry-man's wife, and another woman sitting on the steps of the ferry-house. Drawing Booth's picture from my pocket I showed it to them, and inferred from their looks that Booth was not far distant. One of them said that Booth and Herold had been brought there in a wagon the evening before by a negro named Lucas, who would carry them no farther. While they were bargaining with her husband to take them to Orange Court House, three Confederate soldiers, Ruggles, Bainbridge, and Jett, rode up and they entered into conversation. By and by they were all taken over the ferry. Booth was put on Ruggles's horse and they proceeded towards Bowling Green.
I at once sent the bugler to Sergeant Corbett, telling him to mount the detachment, which I had left a mile behind, feeding, and move down as quickly as possible. Mrs. Rollins went for her husband, who was fishing, and I sent him for the scow, which was on the other side of the river. During his absence the command arrived at the ferry and we were soon over the river. I arrested Rollins the ferryman, and took him as guide to Bowling Green. At dark we passed the Garrett farm, not then dreaming that the assassins were concealed there. Arriving at Bowling Green, I surrounded Goldman's Hotel. After some hesitation the door was opened by Mrs. Goldman. I inquired of her who were the male inmates of the house. She replied that there was only her wounded son, and I directed her to show me his room, telling her that if my men were fired on I should burn the building and take the inmates prisoners to Washington. She took me up one flight of stairs to her son's room, and as I entered Captain Jett sprang from his bed, half-dressed. Her son lay on another bed, wounded. Jett admitted his identity, and drawing Mr. Stanton's proclamation from my pocket I read it to him, and then said, ‘I have known your movements for the past two or three days, and if you do not tell me the truth I will hang you; but if you give me the information I want, I will protect you.’ He was greatly excited, and told me that he had left Booth at Garrett's house, three miles from Port Conway, the evening before, and that Herold had come to Bowling Green with him, and returned that morning. I had Jett's horse taken from the stable, and, placing a guard over him, we retraced our steps towards Garrett's. It was now about midnight, and my men, having been out since the 24th without sleep and with very little food, were exhausted; those who had been left on the edge of the town had fallen asleep. I had some difficulty in arousing them, but when they learned that we were on Booth's track new life seemed to be infused into them. I placed Corbett in the rear with orders to allow no man to fall out of line. Upon reaching Garrett's orchard fence I halted, and in company with Rollins and the detectives took a survey of the premises. I had the fence taken down. I told off six men, gave out the countersign of ‘Boston,’ and sent the six men as a patrol in rear of the out-buildings, with instructions to allow no one to pass through the field or to approach them without the countersign. The gates in front of Garrett's house were quietly opened, and in a minute the whole premises were surrounded. I dismounted, and knocked loudly at the front door. Old Mr. Garrett came out. I seized him, and asked him where the men were who were there yesterday. He replied that they had gone to the woods when the cavalry passed the previous afternoon. While I was speaking with him some of the men had entered the house to search it. Soon one of the soldiers sang out. ‘O Lieutenant! I have a man here I found in the corn-crib.’ It was young Garrett, and I demanded the whereabouts of the fugitives. He replied, ‘In the barn.’ Leaving a few men around the house, we proceeded in the direction of the barn, which we surrounded. I kicked on the door of the barn several times without receiving a reply. Meantime another son of Garrett's had been captured. The barn was secured with a pad-lock, and young Garrett carried the key. I unlocked the door, and again summoned the inmates of the building to surrender. After some delay Booth said, ‘For whom do you take me?’ I replied, ‘It doesn't make any difference. Come out.’ He said, ‘I am a cripple and alone.’ I said, ‘I know who is with you, and you had better surrender.’ He replied, ‘I may be taken by my friends, but not by my foes.’ I said, ‘ if you don’t come out, I’ll burn the building.’ I directed a corporal to pile up some hay in a crack in the wall of the barn, and set the building on fire. As the corporal was picking up the hay and brush Booth said, ‘If you come back here I will put a bullet through you.’ I then motioned to the corporal to desist, and decided to wait for daylight and then to enter the barn by both doors and overpower the assassins. Booth then said, in a drawling voice, ‘O Captain! there is a man in here who wants to surrender awful bad.’ I replied, ‘You had better follow his example and come out.’ His answer was, ‘No, I have not made up my mind; but draw your men up fifty paces off and give me a chance for my life.’ I told him I had not come to fight; that I had fifty men, and could take him. Then he said, ‘Well, my brave boys, prepare me a stretcher, and place another stain on our glorious banner.’
At this moment Herold reached the door. I asked him to hand out his arms; he replied that he had none. I told him I knew exactly what weapons he had. Booth replied, ‘I own all the arms, and may have to use them on you, gentlemen.’ I then said to Herold, ‘Let me see your hands.’ He put them through the partly opened door and I seized him by the wrists. I handed him over to a non-commissioned officer. Just at this moment I heard a shot, and thought Booth had shot himself. Throwing open the door, I saw that the straw and hay behind Booth were on fire. He was half-turning towards it.
He had a crutch, and he held a carbine in his hand. I rushed into the burning barn, followed by my men, and as he was falling caught him under the arms and pulled him out of the barn. The burning building becoming too hot, I had him carried to the veranda of Garrett's house.
Booth received his death-shot in this manner. While I was taking Herold out of the barn one of the detectives went to the rear, and pulling out some protruding straw set fire to it. I had placed Sergeant Boston Corbett at a large crack in the side of the barn, and he, seeing by the igniting hay that Booth was leveling his carbine at either Herold or myself, fired, to disable him in the arm; but Booth making a sudden move, the aim erred, and the bullet struck Booth in the back of the head, about an inch below the spot where his shot had entered the head of Mr. Lincoln. Booth asked me by signs to raise his hands. I lifted them up and he gasped, ‘Useless, use-less!’ We gave him brandy and water, but he could not swallow it. I sent to Port Royal for a physician, who could do nothing when he came, and at seven o'clock Booth breathed his last. He had on his person a diary, a large bowie knife, two pistols, a compass, and a draft on Canada for £60.
I took a saddle blanket off my horse, and, borrowing a darning needle from Miss Garrett, sewed his body in it. The men found an old wagon, and impressed it, with the negro driver. The body was placed upon it, and two hours after Booth's death I was on the way back to Belle Plain, where I had left the steamboat.
I had released Rollins and sent him ahead to have his ferry-boat ready to take us across the river. About 6 p. m. I reached the boat, and found the captain preparing to return to Washington. We reached Washington at 2 a.m., April 27. I placed the body of Booth and the prisoner Herold on board the monitor Montauk, after which I marched my worn-out command up through the navy yard to their quarters.
The next morning an autopsy was held, and measures were taken to identify the body of Booth. The portion of the neck and head through which the bullet had passed was cut out, and is to-day preserved in the National Museum of Anatomy at Washington. The body was buried in a cell in the Penitentiary, where it remained nearly four years, with the bodies of the other assassins. It was then given to his friends, and now lies in a cemetery in Baltimore.
Edward P. Doherty.
[i] The proofs of this article have been read and corrected (Nov., 1889) by Colonel Ingraham, Major Ruggles, Lieutenant Bainbridge, and Captain Doherty.—EDITOR.
[ii] The reward as offered was $100,000 by the U. S. Government, and $25,000 each by three of the States.
[iii] Colonel John J. Garnett, who at the close of the war was with General Joseph E. Johnston as Chief of Artillery, received from Lieutenant Bainbridge, whom he has known for many years, the following additional particulars of the intercourse of the three Confederate officers with Booth and Herold: ‘Captain Jett was well acquainted in Caroline County, on the opposite side of the river, and he told Booth, with our approval, that he would find a place of safety for him. ‘God bless you, sir!’ said Booth, his face wincing with the pain of his disabled leg. When Booth realized that we were kindly disposed, he threw off all reserve and became quite communicative. Booth was dressed in a dark suit of clothes that looked seamed and ravelly, as if from rough contact with thorny undergrowth. On his head was a seedy looking black slouch hat, which he kept well pulled down over his forehead. The lame foot was entirely free from all covering, save a black stocking. The shoe which was on it was entirely cut away at the top, the heel only being covered with leather. The foot was much swollen, and seemed to trouble him greatly. The crutch he carried was rough-hewn and ungainly. His long dark mustache swept over his mouth in a straggling, unkempt manner, although it was evident that he had tried to preserve its shape by frequent handling. Indeed, during all the time he sat with us he was constantly pulling it into shape. His beard, of a coal-black hue, was of about two weeks’ growth and gave his face an unclean appearance. Over his shoulders drooped a long gray shawl, which he said had served him well in covering the telltale initials ‘J.W.B.’ done in Indian ink on his right hand. These letters he showed to us to establish his identity. Strung over his shoulders by a long strap were a pair of large field glasses, which he said had not been of much use to him, because he had ‘been forced to keep under cover too much.’ . The wind lulled after we had waited a long time, and the ferryman came over for us. Captain Ruggles helped Booth to mount his horse, and together we went over to Port Royal, a village opposite Port Conway. The ferryman eyed us all very closely and we said but very little. Booth sat squarely on his horse, looking expectantly towards the opposite shore, and when the boat struck the wharf he lost no time in landing. I could see that his spirits were improving, and he laughed heartily when we surrounded him in a group. ‘I ‘m safe in glorious old Virginia, thank God! ‘ he exclaimed. ‘Now, boys,’ said Jett, ‘I propose to take our friend Booth up to Garrett’s house. I think they’ll give him shelter there and treat him kindly.’ ‘Whatever you deem best to do with me, my friends,’ replied Booth, ‘I ‘11 agree to be satisfied.’ ‘Jett understands this country,’ said Captain Ruggles, ‘and I think that it will be well to act as he directs.’ ‘I ‘m in your hands,’ said Booth;’ do with me, boys, as you think best.’ ‘Well,’ said Jett, ‘I want to do the best I can for you ; and I think our plan is to escort Mr. Booth up to Garrett’s, tell the family who he is, and trust to their hospitality to see him kindly cared for until such time as he sees fit to seek other quarters.’ After a few minutes’ further conversation we left the wharf and started through Port Royal on the road to Garrett’s farm. His house was some distance from the main road, and when we reached the gate leading into the farm Herold, who said that he wanted to go with us as far as Bowling Green to buy a pair of shoes, remained with me, while Jett and Ruggles accompanied Booth to the house. Garrett’s residence was in the style at that time in vogue among Southern planters. It was a large, wooden framed building, with broad porches on every side. It stood on a hill, from which sloped in every direction broad rolling fields, fair in their verdure as ever greeted the eye of man. When Booth was a few rods distant in the lane from where Herold and I were standing, he suddenly wheeled his horse about, and lifting his slouch hat from his head waved it towards us and shouted hack : ‘Good-by, old fellow. Good-by, Lieutenant; come and see me again. I shall always be pleased to see you both. ‘I’ll be with you soon, John,’ returned Herold; ‘keep in good spirits.’ ‘Have no fear about me, Herold,’ Booth replied; ‘I am among friends now’; with which he turned his horse, and followed at a gallop after Jett and Ruggles, who were far in advance of him. Booth impressed me at that moment as the most reckless man I had ever met. Without a parole as I was, and in my own country, amid scenes with which I had been familiar since childhood, I did not feel that I was perfectly safe. If he felt any premonitions of danger, as I certainly felt that in his position he should, he gave no signs of them. He seemed as light-hearted and careless as a schoolboy just released from his studies. Herald and I went on to Bowling Green, where we remained all night, stopping at the house of a Mr. Clark. Jett and Ruggles, after escorting Booth up to Garrett’s house and seeing him well disposed, went on to Bowling Green, where they stopped with Mr. Goldman, for whose daughter Jett had tender feelings. On the following day I learned of Johnston’s surrender, and decided to go back to my home in King George County and settle down to the life of a peaceful citizen. I met Jett and Ruggles and told them of my intention, and they concluded to do likewise. I inquired for Booth, and in what shape they had left him, and Willie Jett told me that he did not think under the existing state of affairs the Garretts liked to harbor Booth in their house. ‘And yet,’ said Jett, ‘they did not like to turn him away.’ After a little persuasion Mr. Garrett agreed to allow him to remain on his place, although he felt that he would be running a big risk in doing so. ‘He’11 be well taken care of, never fear,’ said Jett, who decided to remain at Goldman’s house for a few days. Captain Ruggles and I went on the next morning towards Port Royal together, Herold accompanying us as far as Garrett’s gate, where we left him. He told us that he was going right up to join Booth, and that he would stick by him to the death. Just before reaching Port Royal I met a soldier of my command, who told me that if we had not got our paroles, and did not want to be captured, to turn back. ‘For,’ said he, ‘the town is full of Yankees in search of Booth, who, they say, crossed the river yesterday.’ We turned immediately and rode back to Garrett’s. As we approached the front gate Booth was lying on the lawn in front of the house. As soon as he recognized us he arose, and hobbling towards us said, ‘Well, boys, what’s in the wind now?’ We told him the enemy was upon his trail, and advised him to seek shelter in the woods. I remember pointing to a thick piece of woodland some distance from the house, and saying: ‘Booth, get over there at once, and hide yourself. In those wooded ravines you will never be found.’ ‘Yes,’ said Ruggles, ‘get there as quickly as you can, and lose no time about starting.’ Booth turned around to look for Herold, but he was nowhere in sight, as indeed was no one else. He then straightened himself up to his full height, and replied: I’ll do as you say, boys, right off. Ride on! Good-by! It will never do for you to be found in my company.’ Then biting his lips, as if he had conceived a desperate resolve, he said, ‘Rest assured of one thing, good friend, Wilkes Booth will never he taken alive.’ The ferryman at Port Conway had recognized Jett, and when Lieutenant Doherty arrived there with his troops, and described the men they were pursuing, he knew at once that he had assisted them across the river the day before. He told the officers that he had taken five men across, three of whom were Confederate soldiers, one of whom he knew to be Captain Jett, as he had often taken him across. If he had only stopped there all might have been well so far as Booth was concerned, for some time. But the ferryman was frightened. He thought if he did not tell all he knew he would be arrested as an accomplice in the assassination of Lincoln, so he volunteered the information that Captain Jett had a sweetheart at Bowling Green, and that in all probability he would be found there. The people of the South conceived the idea that Captain Jett deliberately betrayed Booth. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Had they been in his place, I make bold to say they would have acted as he did. It was his life or Booth’s. The latter had no hopes; but Jett, with a parole in his possession, had, so far as he knew, a long life of happiness before him. Lieutenant Doherty and his troops were hot upon the assassin’s trail, and were not to he denied their prey. Poor Jett had only one alternative, and that was to become their guide, and I am sure he did so unwillingly. He has been dead many years, and I know that he was loyal to the cause he espoused, and fought gallantly for it to the end. He guided the troops hack to Garrett’s, and he afterward told me that he had hopes that Booth might have been warned in time to escape, as indeed he had been by us.’— EDITOR.
[iv] Payne was a deserter from a Confederate Florida regiment.
[v] Lieutenant Bainbridge is positive that he heard Booth say: ‘After we had been three days in the pines, I deemed it advisable to act on Jones’s advice and kill our horses. I could hear in the distance the neighing of the horses of the Federal cavalry as they went scouting through the country, and I was afraid that ours might answer them and betray our whereabouts, so I asked Herold to shoot them, which he did.’—EDITOR.
[vi] The following is taken from the report of Generals Joseph Holt, Judge Advocate, and E. D. Townsend, Adjutant-General, U. S. A., to the Secretary of War, Mr. Stanton, on the subject of the arrest of those engaged in the assassination of President Lincoln, which was transmitted to Congress: "The parties who made the arrest of Booth and Herold were a detachment of the 16th New York Cavalry (consisting of Lieutenant E. P. Doherty, commanding, and two sergeants, seven corporals, and seventeen privates), accompanied by E. J. Conger and L. B. Baker, two employees in the detective service of Colonel L. C. Baker, Provost-Marshal, etc., the officer who originated and directed the expedition, though not personally accompanying it. . . . The military element of the expedition for the arrest of these criminals Booth and Herold is therefore believed to have been that which was essential to its success, and without which its results could not have been attained. As the commander of the detachment employed upon this important duty, Lieutenant Doherty was solely responsible for its discipline and efficiency. He is found to have been active and energetic, and it is believed to be established by the weight of testimony that it was he who personally made the actual seizure of Herold. It was he, too (in conjunction with Mr. Baker), who obtained the first reliable information which rendered the capture of the criminals almost certain; and though, in the direction of the investigation, the initiative would seem more frequently to have been taken by Conger, yet Lieutenant Doherty is shown to have acted and been recognized as the commander of the expedition in the only written instructions which appear to have been issued during the march, to wit, those given by him to the master of the steamer which conveyed the party to and from Belle Plain. Upon the whole, therefore, it is concluded that as such commander he may properly be awarded the one-tenth portion of the whole amount which is payable by law to the commanding officer of a vessel immediately engaged in the capture of a prize, and his share will there-fore be $7500. The services of Messrs. Conger and Baker upon this expedition were, no doubt, of great value; and, inasmuch as these parties immediately rep-resented the views and intentions of Colonel Baker, their part in carrying out the original plan was particularly important. It is understood that their expenses incurred upon this duty have been reimbursed, and that they have also been paid, or are entitled to be paid, for their general services, as detectives at this period, at the rate of $15 per month. They should, however, both be liberally, and, as it is thought, equally compensated; and it is concluded that of the amount offered as reward there may properly be paid to each the sum of $4090."
Sergeants Corbett and Wendell each received $2545.68; each of the seven corporals received $2291.09; and each of the seventeen privates $2039.53. Of the $75,000 thus distributed as a reward for the arrest of Booth and Herold, Colonel L. C. Baker received the share that "would be payable to the commander of a squadron, by a separate ship of which a prize had been taken," that is, one-twentieth, or $3750.—EDITOR.
Surnames in this article:
Allen, Atzerodt, Augur, Bainbridge, Baker, Booth, Boyd, Conger, Corbett, Doherty, Garrett, Goldman, Grant, Hancock, Herold, Ingraham, Jett, Johnston, Lincoln, Lucas, Mosby, Payne, Rathbone, Robb, Rollins, Ruggles, Seward, Sewell, Stanton, Stewart, Surratt, Switzer, Washington, Wilson
© 2005 Michael Goad All rights