Friday, April 27, 2007

April 26, 1865:

John Wilkes Booth Dies

Lincoln's assassin escaped the night he murdered the president, but his days were numbered. Booth, along with another conspirator, David Herold, made it as far as a tobacco barn near the Rappahannock River in Virginia in late April. But they could elude the intense manhunt no longer.

Eyewitness to has this to say about the event: "After riding and searching continuously for over 24 hours, the men of the 16th New York Cavalry arrive at the Garrett farm at 2 o'clock on the morning of April 26 and quickly discover Herold and Booth hiding in the barn. Ordered to give up, Herold flees the barn proclaiming his innocence. Booth defiantly remains inside, ignoring the threat to burn the barn if he does not surrender. As the officer in charge of the cavalry tries to negotiate with Booth, someone at the back of the barn lights some straw and fire spreads throughout the structure. Booth at first moves towards the fire, then turns and hops towards the door. A shot rings out fired by Sergeant Boston Corbett. Booth falls, paralyzed. Carried to the porch of the farmhouse, Lincoln's assassin lingers between life and death finally succumbing around seven in the morning.

"Booth's body is carried up the Potomac and buried beneath the floor of the penitentiary in Washington, DC... David Herold stands trial with three other conspirators. All four are found guilty and all including Mrs. Surratt, owner of the tavern where Booth stopped, are hanged on July 7, 1865." The entire article is here.

Thomas "Boston" Corbett had disobeyed orders by plugging Booth, since Secretary of War Stanton wanted him alive, but Corbett nevertheless got a share of the reward money promised for the taking of Booth, more than $1,650 (roughly $22,000 in current purchasing power). Corbett's ultimate fate is lost to history, though he did spend time in the 1880s in a Kansas insane asylum.

No comments: