ARGUMENT OF JOHN A. BINGHAM, Special Judge Advocate.
IN REPLY TO THE SEVERAL ARGUMENTS IN DEFENSE OF MARY E. SURRATT AND OTHERS, CHARGED WITH CONSPIRACY AND THE MURDER OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN, LATE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, ETC.
"May it please the Court: The conspiracy here charged and specified and the acts alleged to have been committed in pursuance thereof, and with the intent laid, constitute a crime, the atrocity of which has sent a shudder through the civilized world. All that was agreed upon and attempted by the alleged inciters and instigators of this crime constitutes a combination of atrocities with scarcely a parallel in the annals of the human race. Whether the prisoners at your bar are guilty of the conspiracy and the acts alleged to have been done . . . as set forth in the charge and specification, is a question, the determination of which rests solely with this honorable court, and in passing upon which, this court are the sole judges of the law and the fact.
"In presenting my views upon the questions of law raised by the several counsel for the defense, and also on the testimony adduced for and against the accused, I desire to be just to them, just to you, just to my country, and just to my own convictions. The issue joined involves the highest interests of the accused, and, in my judgment, the highest interests of the whole people of the United States . . . . A wrongful and illegal conviction, or a wrongful and illegal acquittal upon this dread issue, would impair somewhat the security of every man's life, and shake the stability of the Republic.
"The crime charged and specified upon your record is not simply the crime of murdering a human being, but it is a crime of killing and murdering on the 14th day of April, A. D. 1865, within the Military Department of Washington and the entrenched lines thereof, Abraham Lincoln, then President of the United States, and Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy there; and then and there assaulting with intent to kill and murder, Wm. H. Seward, then Secretary of State of the United States; and then and there lying in wait to kill and murder Andrew Johnson, the Vice President of the United States, and Ulysses S. Grant, then Lieutenant General and in Command of the Army of the United States, in pursuance of a treasonable conspiracy entered into by the accused with one John Wilkes Booth, and John H. Surratt, upon the instigation of Jefferson Davis, Jacob Thompson, Clement C. Clay, George N. Sanders and others, with intent thereby to aid the existing Rebellion and subvert the Constitution and laws of the United States.
"The Government in preferring this charge, does not indict the whole people of any State or section, but only the alleged parties to this unnatural and atrocious crime. The President of the United States in the discharge of his duty as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and by virtue of the power invested in him by the Constitution and laws of the United States, has constituted you a military court, to hear and determine the issue joined against the accused, and has constituted you a court for no other purpose whatever. To this charge and specification the defendants have pleaded first, that this court has no jurisdiction in the premises; and, secondly, not guilty."
After a careful covering of every point raised by the defense, embellished with numerous citations of legal authorities and court decisions as to both of the points raised by the defense, the Judge Advocate continues:
"It only remains for me to sum up the evidence and present my views of the law arising upon the facts in the case on trial. The questions of fact involved in the issue are:
"First, did the accused, or any two of them, confederate and conspire together as charged?—and
"Second, did the accused, or any of them, in pursuance of such conspiracy, and with the intent alleged, commit either or all of the several acts specified?
"If the conspiracy be established, as laid, it results that whatever was said or done by either of the parties in the furtherance or execution of the common design in the declaration or act of all the other parties of the conspiracy; and this whether the other parties, at the time such words were uttered, or such acts done by their confederates, were present or absent—here, within the entrenched lines of your Capitol, or crouching behind the entrenched lines of Richmond, or awaiting the results of their murderous plot against their country, in Canada . . . . The same rule obtains in cases of treason. A conspiracy is rarely if ever proved by positive testimony. When a crime of high magnitude is about to be perpetrated by a combination of individuals, they do not act openly, but covertly and secretly. The purpose formed is known only to those who enter into it . . . . Unless one of the original conspirators betray his companions and give evidence against them, their guilt can be proved only by circumstantial evidence."
During the course of Judge Advocate Bingham's address the influence of the Jesuit theology showed up in his reference to Jacob Thompson, one of the conspirators referred to, who was a leader in the group of Confederates of Montreal. when he said:
"In speaking of this assassination of the President and others, Jacob Thompson said that it was only removing them from office, that the killing of a tyrant was no murder."
Emanuel Sa, a Jesuit authority, said, "The tyrant is illegitimate; and any man whatever of the people has a right to kill him. (Uniquis-que de populo potest ocoidere.)" But note this bit of evidence referred to by the distinguished lawyer:
"Dr. Merritt testified further that after this meeting in Montreal he had a conversation with Clement Clay in Toronto about the letter from Jefferson Davis which Sanders had exhibited and in which conversation Clay gave the witness to understand that he knew the nature of the letter perfectly and remarked that he thought, 'The end would justify the means.' The witness also testified to the presence of Booth with Sanders in Montreal last fall and of Surratt in Toronto in February last."
The above is certainly proof positive of Jesuit influence. Continuing below record shows:
"John Wilkes Booth having entered into this conspiracy in Canada, as has been shown, as early as October, he is next found in the City of New York on the 11th day, as I claim of November, in disguise, in conversation with another, the conversation disclosing to the witness, Mrs. Hudspeth, that they had some matter of personal interest between them; that up on one of them the lot had fallen to go to Washington . . . upon the other to go to Newbern. This witness upon being shown the photograph of Booth swears that "the face is the same" that of one of the men, who, she says, was a young man of education and culture, as appeared by his conversation, and who had a scar like a bite near the jawbone. It is a fact proved here by the Surgeon General that Booth had such a scar on the side of his neck."
It was this witness that found the letter on the floor of the car which Booth dropped and which was transmitted from her to the War Department on November 17th, 1864. The letter was delivered to President Lincoln, who after having read it wrote the word Assassination across it, and filed it in his office where it was found after his death and was placed in evidence as a court exhibit. The letter reads as follows:
The time has come at last that we have all so wished for, and upon you everything depends. As it was decided, before you left, we were to cast lots, we accordingly did so, and you are to be the Charlotte Corday of the Nineteenth Century. When you remember the fearful solemn vow that was taken by us, you will feel there is no drawback. Abe must die, and now. You can choose your weapons, the cup, the knife, the bullet. The cup failed us once and might again. Johnson who will give this has been like an enraged demon since the meeting, because it has not fallen to him to rid the world of a monster . . . . You know where to find your friends. Your disguises are so perfect and complete that without one knew your face no police telegraphic dispatch would catch you. The English gentleman, Harcourt, must not act hastily. Remember, he has ten days. Strike for your home: strike for your country; bide your time, but strike sure. Get introduced; congratulate him; listen to his stories (not many more will the brute tell to earthly friends;) do anything but fail, and meet us at the appointed place within the fortnight. You will probably hear from me in Washington. Sanders is doing us no good in Canada.
And we quote again from Judge Bingham:
"Although this letter would imply that the assassination spoken of was to take place speedily, yet the party was to bide his time . . . . This letter declares that Abraham Lincoln must die and now, meaning as soon as the agents can be employed and the work done. 'To that end you will bide your time.'
"Even Booth's co-conspirator, Payne, now on his trial . . . says Booth had just been to Canada. 'Was filled with a mighty scheme and was lying in wait for agents.' Booth asked the co-operation of the prisoner and said, 'I will give you as much money as you want; but you must swear to stick to me. It is in the oil business.' This you are told by the accused was early in March last . . . . In the latter part of November, 1864, Booth visits Charles county, Maryland, and is in company with one of the prisoners, Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, with whom he lodged over night, and through whom he procures of Gardner one of the several horses which were at his disposal and used by him and his co-conspirator in Washington on the night of the assassination.
"Some time during December last it is in the testimony that the prisoner Mudd introduced Booth to John H. Surratt and the witness Weichmann; that Booth invited them to the National Hotel; that when there in the room to which Booth took them, Mudd went out into the passage, called Booth out and had a private conversation with him, leaving the witness and Surratt in the room. Upon their return to the room, Booth went out with Surratt and upon their coming in all three—Booth, Surratt and Samuel A. Mudd went out together and had a conversation in the passage, leaving Weichmann alone. Up to the time of this interview it seems that neither the witness or Surratt had any knowledge of Booth as they were then introduced to him by Dr. Mudd. Whether Surratt had previously known Booth it is not important to inquire. Mudd deemed it necessary, perhaps a wise precaution, to introduce Surratt to Booth; he also deemed it necessary to have a private conversation with Booth shortly afterwards. Had this conversation, no part of which was heard by Weichmann, been perfectly innocent, it is not to be presumed that Dr. Mudd, who was an entire stranger to the witness, would have deemed it necessary to hold the conversation secretly, nor to have volunteered to tell the witness, or rather pretend to tell him what the conversation was . . . . And if it was necessary to withdraw and talk by themselves secretly, about the sale of a farm, why should they disclose the fact to the very man from whom they had concealed it?"
As a matter of fact, the above conversation about the purchase of Mudd's farm by Booth was merely a ruse to deceive Weichmann: The whole conversation was talking over the shortest and safest route for flight from the Capitol by which to reach their friends south of Washington.
A number of Dr. Mudd's slaves testified that he was absent from his home at this time which corroborated Weichmann's testimony.
We quote from the summing up of the evidence at the trials by Judge Advocate Bingham referring to O'Laughlin as follows:
"Michael O'Laughlin had come to Washington on the 13th of April, 1865, the day preceding the assassination; had sought out his victim, General Grant, at the house of the Secretary of War, that he might be able with certainty to identify him, and that at the very hour when these preparations were going on, was lying in wait at Rullman's on the Avenue, keeping watch, and declaring as he did, at about ten o'clock P.M. when told that that fatal blow had been struck by Booth. 'I don't believe Booth did it.' During the day and night before he had been visiting Booth, and doubtless encouraging him, and at the very hour was in position, at a convenient distance to aid and protect him in his flight, as well as to execute his own part of this conspiracy, by inflicting death on General Grant who happily, was not at the theatre, nor in the city, having left the city that day.
"Who doubts that Booth ascertained in the course of the day that General Grant would not be present at the theatre. O'Laughlin who was to murder General Grant, instead of entering the box with Booth, was detailed to lie in wait, and watch and support him.
"His declarations of his reasons for his changing his lodgings here and in Baltimore, so ably, and so ingeniously presented in the arguments of his learned counsel (Mr. Cox), avail nothing before the blasting fact, that he did change his lodgings and declared: 'He knew nothing of the affair whatever.'
"O'Laughlin who said he was in the 'oil business' which Booth, Surratt, Payne and Arnold, have all declared meant this conspiracy, says he 'knew nothing of the affair.' O'Laughlin, to whom Booth sent the dispatches of the 13th and 27th of March,—O'Laughlin who is named in Arnold's letter as one of the conspirators, and who searched for General Grant on Thursday night, laid in wait for him on Friday, was defeated by that Providence 'which shapes our ends,' and laid in wait to aid Booth and Payne, declares, he 'knows nothing about the matter.' Such a denial is as false and inexcusable as Peter's denial of our Lord."
While these preparations were going on, Mudd was awaiting the execution of the plot, ready to faithfully perform his part in securing the safe escape of the murderers. Arnold was at his post at Fortress Monroe, awaiting the meeting referred to in his letter of March 27th, wherein he says they were not to 'Meet for a month or so,' which month had more than expired on the day of the murder, for his letter and testimony disclose that this month of suspensions began to run from about the first week of March. He stood ready with the arms with which Booth had furnished him, to aid the escape of the murderers by that route, and secure their communication with their employers. He had given the assurance in that letter to Booth that although the Government "suspicioned" them, and the undertaking was becoming "complicated" yet a time "more propitious would arrive," for the consummation of this conspiracy in which he "was one" with Booth and when he "would be better prepared to again be with him."
It was upon the above evidence for which O'Laughlin and Arnold were convicted and sentenced to the Dry Tortugas.
And now I will quote from the same document the summing up of the evidence against Mary E. Surratt, for as a matter of facts tersely stated nothing could surpass that of the Judge Advocate, John A. Bingham.
"That Mary E. Surratt is as guilty as her son, as having thus conspired and combined and confederated, to do this murder, in aid of this rebellion, is clear. First, her house was the headquarters of Booth, John Surratt, Atzerodt, Payne and Herold; she is inquired for by Payne, and she is visited by Booth, and holds private conversations with him. His picture together with the chief conspirator, Jefferson Davis, is found in her house. She sends to Booth for a carriage to take her on the 11th of April to Surrattville, for the purpose of perfecting the arrangement deemed necessary to the successful execution of the conspiracy, and especially to facilitate and protect the conspirators in their escape from justice. On that occasion, Booth, having disposed of his carriage, gives to the agent she employed (Weichmann) ten dollars with which to hire a conveyance for that purpose. And yet the pretense is made that Mrs. Surratt went on the 11th of April to Surrattville on exclusively her own private and lawful business. Can any one tell, if that be so, how it comes that she should apply to Booth for a conveyance? And how it comes that he, of his own accord, having no conveyance to furnish her, should send her ten dollars with which to procure it?
"There is not the slightest indication that Booth was under the slightest obligation to her, or that she had any claim upon him, either for a conveyance, or for the means with which to procure one except that he was bound to contribute, being the agent of the conspirators in Canada and Richmond, whatever money might be necessary to the consummation of this infernal plot. On that day, the 11th of April, John H. Surratt had not returned from Canada with the funds furnished him by Thompson.
"Upon that journey of the 11th, the accused. Mary E. Surratt, met with the witness, John M. Lloyd, at Uniontown (her tenant at Surrattville). She called him; he got out of his carriage and came to her; she whispered to him in so low a tone that her attendant could not hear her words, though Lloyd to whom they were spoken, did distinctly hear them, and testifies that she told him he should have those 'shooting irons' ready, meaning the carbines, which her son, and Herold and Atzerodt had deposited with him, and added the reason, 'for they would soon be called for.' On the day of the assassination, she again sent for Booth, had an interview with him in her own house, and immediately again went to Surrattville, and then, about six o'clock in the afternoon, she delivered to Lloyd a field glass and told him to 'Have two bottles of whiskey and the carbines ready, as they would be called for that night.' Having thus perfected the arrangement, she returned to Washington to her own house at about half past eight o'clock, to await the final result. How could this woman anticipate on Friday afternoon at six o'clock, that these arms would be called for, and would be needed that night, unless she was in the conspiracy and knew the blow was to be struck, and the flight of the assassins attempted and by that route.
"Was not the private conversation with Booth held with her in her parlor on the afternoon of the 14th of April, just before she left on this business in relation to the orders she should give to have the shooting arms ready?
"An endeavor is made to impeach Lloyd. But the Court will observe that no witness has been called who contradicts Lloyd's statement in any material matter; neither has his general character for truth been assailed. How, then, is he impeached? Is it claimed that his testimony shows that he was a party to the conspiracy? Then, it is conceded by those who set up any such a pretense that there was a conspiracy. A conspiracy between whom? There can be no conspiracy without the co-operation, or agreement, between two or more persons. Who were the other parties to it? Was it Mary E. Surratt? Was it John H. Surratt? Was it George Atzerodt, David Herold? Those are the only persons so far as his own testimony, or the testimony of any other witnesses discloses, with whom he had any communication whatever on any subject immediately or remotely touching this conspiracy before the assassination. His receipt and concealment of the arms, are unexplained evidence that he was in the conspiracy.
"The explanation is, that he depended on Mary E. Surratt; was her tenant, and his declaration, given in evidence by the accused, himself, is that: 'She had ruined him and brought this trouble upon him.' But because he was weak enough, or wicked enough, to become the guilty depository of these arms, and to deliver them on the order of Mary E. Surratt, to the assassins, it does not follow, that he is not to be believed on oath. It is said, that he concealed the fact that the arms had been left and called for. He so testifies himself, but he gives the reason, that he did it only from apprehension of danger to his life. If he were in the conspiracy, his general credit being unchallenged, his testimony being uncontradicted in any material matter, he is to be believed, and cannot be disbelieved if his testimony is substantially corroborated by other reliable witnesses.
"Is he not corroborated touching the deposit of arms by the fact that the arms are produced in court, one of which was found upon the person of Booth at the time he was overtaken and slain, and which is identified as the same which had been left with Lloyd, by Herold, Surratt and Atzerodt? Is he not corroborated in the fact of the first interview with Mrs. Surratt by the joint testimony of Mrs. Offut (his sister-in-law), and Louis J. Weichmann, each of whom testified, (and they are contradicted by no one) that, on Tuesday, the 11th of April, at Uniontown, Mrs. Surratt called Mr. Lloyd to come to her, which he did, and she held a secret conversation with him? Is he not corroborated as to the last conversation on the 14th of April by the testimony of Mrs. Offut, who swears that upon the evening, April 14, she saw the prisoner, Mary E. Surratt, at Lloyd's house approach and hold conversation with him? Is he not corroborated in the fact, to which he swears that Mrs. Surratt delivered to him at that time, the field glass wrapped in paper, by the sworn statement of Weichmann, that Mrs. Surratt took with her on that occasion two packages, both of which were wrapped in paper, and one of which he describes as a small package, about six inches in diameter? The attempt was made, by calling Mrs. Offut, to prove that no such package was delivered, but it failed; she merely states, that Mrs. Surratt delivered a package wrapped in paper to her, after her arrival there, and before Lloyd came in, which was laid down in the room. But whether it is the package about which Lloyd testifies, or the other package, of the two about which Weichmann testifies, as having been carried there that day by Mrs. Surratt, does not appear. Neither does this witness pretend to say that Mrs. Surratt, after she had delivered it to her, and the witness had laid it down in the room, did not again take it up, if it were the same, and put it into the hands of Lloyd. She only knows that she did not see that done; but she did see Lloyd with a package like the one she received in the room before Mrs. Surratt left. How it came in his possession she is not able to state; nor that the package was that Mrs. Surratt first handed her; nor which of the packages she afterwards saw in the hands of Lloyd.
"But there is one other fact in this case that puts forever at rest the question of the guilty participation of the prisoner, Mrs. Surratt, in this conspiracy and murder; and that is, that Payne who had lodged four days in her house—who, during all of that time had sat at her table, and who had often conversed with her—when the guilt of his great crime was upon him, and he knew not where else he could go so safely, to find a co-conspirator, and that he could trust none, that was not like himself, guilty, with even the knowledge of his presence, under the cover of darkness, after wandering for three days and nights, skulking before the pursuing officers, at the hour of midnight found his way to the door of Mrs. Surratt, rang the bell, was admitted, and upon being asked, 'Whom do you want to see?' Replied, 'Mrs. Surratt.' He was then asked by the officer Morgan, what he came at that time of night for, to which he replied, 'To dig a gutter in the morning,' that Mrs. Surratt had sent for him. Afterwards he said that Mrs. Surratt knew he was a poor man and came to him. Being asked where he last worked, he replied: 'Sometimes on I street;' and where he boarded, he replied, that he had no boarding house but was a poor man who got his living with the pick, which he bore upon his shoulder, having stolen it from the entrenchments of the Capital. Upon being pressed why he came there at that time of night to go to work, he answered that he simply called to see what time he should go to work in the morning. Upon being told by the officer who fortunately had preceded him to this house, that he would have to go to the Provost-Marshal's office, he moved and did not answer, whereupon Mrs. Surratt was asked to step into the hall and state whether she knew this man. Raising her right hand, she exclaimed: 'Before God, sir, I have not seen that man before; I have not hired him: I do not know anything about him.' The hall was brilliantly lighted.
"If not one word had been said, the mere act of Payne in flying to her house for shelter, would have borne witness against her, strong as proofs from Holy Writ. But, when she denies, after hearing his declarations that she had sent for him, or that she had never seen him, and knew nothing of him, when, in point of fact, she had seen him four consecutive days, in her own house (that same house) in the same clothing which he wore, who can resist for a moment, the conclusion that these parties, were alike, guilty?"
And this is the woman whom the Roman hierarchy in this country is trying to make a martyr of. Contemplate this female Jesuit, this Leopoldine, without being asked to swear to her denial, volunteered to lift her hand and in the name of her God, perjure herself in the presence of those witnesses! Do you doubt that she was a lay Jesuit? Listen. Let me quote the "Doctrine of the Jesuits" upon this point:
Under Of Lying and False Swearing in JUDICIO TEOLOGICA, Basnedi, Jesuit authority, page 278, we find:
"If you believe in an inconvertible manner, that you are commanded to lie, then lie."
Again, we quote from the Jesuit Father Stoz in Of the Tribunal of the Penitent:
"When a crime is secret, the culpability of the crime may be denied; it being understood publicly."
Continuing, Judge Bingham said:
"Mrs. Surratt had arrived at home from the completion of her part in the plot, about half past eight in the evening. A few minutes afterwards she was called to the parlor, and there had a private interview with someone unseen, but whose retreating footsteps were heard by the witness, Weichmann. This was doubtless the secret, and last visit of John H. Surratt to his mother, who had instigated and encouraged him to strike this traitorous and murderous blow at his country.
"Booth proceeded to the theatre about nine o'clock in the evening, at the same time that Atzerodt and Payne and Herold were riding the streets, while Surratt, having parted with his mother at the brief interview in his parlor, from which his retreating steps were heard, was walking the Avenue (Pennsylvania) booted and spurred, and doubtless consulting with O'Laughlin. When Booth reached the rear of the theatre, he called Spangler to him and received from Spangler his pledge to help him all he could, when, with Booth, he entered the theatre by the stage door, doubtless to see that the way was clear from the box to the rear door of the theatre, and to look upon their victim, whose erect position they could study from the stage. After this view Booth passes to the street in front of the theatre, where on the pavement, with other conspirators, yet unknown, among them one described as a low-browed villain, he awaits the appointed moment . . . . Presently, as the hour of ten o'clock approached, one of his guilty associates calls the time; they wait; again, as the appointed time draws nigh, he calls the time; and finally when the fatal moment arrives, he repeats in a louder tone 'Ten minutes past ten o'clock, ten minutes past ten o'clock' . . . . The hour has come when the red right hand of these murderous conspirators should strike, and the dreadful deed of assassination be done.
"Booth at the appointed moment entered the theatre, ascended to the dress circle, passed to the right, paused a moment looking down, doubtless to see if Spangler was at his post, and approached the outer door of the closed passage leading to the box, occupied by the President, pressed it open, passed in, and closed the passage door behind him. Spangler's bar was in its place and was readily adjusted by Booth in the mortise, and pressed against the inner side of the door, so that he was secure from interruption from without. He passed on to the next door, immediately behind the President, and stopping, looks through the aperture in the door into the President's box, and deliberately observes the precise position of his victim seated in the chair, which had been prepared by the conspirators, as the altar for the sacrifice, looking calmly and quietly down upon the glad and grateful people, whom by his fidelity he had saved from the peril which had threatened the destruction of their government, and all they held dear, this side of the grave, and whom he had come, upon invitation, to greet with his presence, with the words still lingering upon his lips, which he had uttered with uncovered head and uplifted hand, before God, and his country, when on the fourth of last March, he took again the oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, declaring that he entered upon the duties of his great office 'With malice toward none and charity for all.'
"In a moment more, strengthened by the knowledge that his conspirators were all at their posts, seven at least of them present in the city, two of them, Mudd and Arnold, at their appointed places, watching for his coming, this hired assassin moves stealthily through the door, the fastening of which had been removed to facilitate his entrance, fires upon his victim, and the martyred spirit of Abraham Lincoln ascends to God."
"Treason has done his worst; nor steel nor poison;
Malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing
Can touch him further."
Now, I will let Judge Bingham pick up the thread of evidence by which Booth and Herold were left at the home of Dr Mudd:
". . . . They arrived early in the morning before day, and no man knows at what hour they left. Herold rode towards Bryantown with Mudd, about three o'clock that afternoon, in the vicinity of which place he parted with him, remaining in the swamp, and was afterwards seen returning the same afternoon in the direction of Mudd's house, a little before sundown, about which time Mudd returned from Bryantown towards his home. This village, at the time Mudd was in it, was thronged with soldiers in pursuit of the murderers of the President, and although great care had been taken by the defense to deny that anyone said in the presence of Dr. Mudd, either there or elsewhere on that day, who had committed this crime, yet it is in evidence by two witnesses, whose truthfulness no man questions, that upon Mudd's return to his own house that afternoon, he stated that Booth was the murderer of the president, and Boyle, the murderer of Secretary Seward, but took care to make the further remark that Booth had brothers, and that he did not know which one of them had done the act.
"When did Dr. Mudd learn that Booth had brothers? And what is still more pertinent to this inquiry, from whom did he learn that either, John Wilkes or any of his brothers, had murdered the President?
"It is clear that Booth remained in Mudd's house until some time in the afternoon of Saturday; that Herold left the house alone, as one of the witnesses states, being seen to pass the window; that he alone of these two assassins was in the company of Dr. Mudd on his way to Bryantown. It does not appear that Herold returned to Mudd's house. It is a confession of Dr. Mudd himself, proven by one of the witnesses that Booth left his house on crutches and went in the direction of the swamp. How long did he remain there, and what became of the horses that Booth and Herold rode to his house and which were put in his stable, are facts nowhere disclosed by the evidence. The owners testify that they have never seen the horses since."
As a matter of fact, it afterward developed. Herold, while he and Booth skulked in the timbers near the place of Thomas Jones, not a great way from the road on which they could see the soldiers and searchers riding up and down feared the horses might, by neighing, attract the attention of the riders and be betrayed, so he led the horses a safe distance away and shot them.
The late Brig. General T. M. Harris, a member of the military commission which convicted the conspirators, in his great book on the Conspiracy Trials, page 80, describes Dr. Mudd as follows:
"Mudd's expression of countenance was that of hypocrite. He had the bump of secretiveness largely developed, and it would have taken months of favorable acquaintanceship to have removed the unfavorable impression made by the first scanning of the man. He had the appearance of a natural born liar and deceiver. Mudd was a physician living on a farm. He had a considerable number of slaves at the breaking out of the Rebellion, most of whom had left him during the previous winter. His father, also living in the neighborhood, was large land and slave holder, and Mudd's disloyalty was, no doubt, of the rabid type. His home was a place for returned Rebel soldiers and recruiting parties, and he had a place of concealment in the pines near his house, where they were sheltered and cared for, the doctor sending their food to them by his slaves; and if at any time any of these parties ventured to his house to take their meals, a slave was always placed on watch to give notice of the approach of anyone."
Mudd not only entertained Booth a week-end in November, but he was known to have made several trips to Washington that winter, and each time was in conference with both Booth and Surratt. There is no doubt that Booth's Knight of the Golden Circle signals and signs did not give him entre to the Romanists in the community south of Washington, in which St. Mary's Catholic Church was the center, and to which he and Herold fled after the deed committed in Ford's Theatre.
The next damaging evidence against Dr. Mudd was when the officers visited his house on the trail of the two fugitives and he emphatically denied that he had any strange visitors. It was not until the third visit, when the officers, fortified by definite facts informed him that they would have to search the house, that he admitted the presence of the two men, one wounded, who had been there the Saturday after the assassination. Mrs. Mudd disappeared and in a few minutes came in bringing the bootleg which Mudd had cut from Booth's boot when he bandaged his leg. On the bootleg were the initials "J.W.B." written in India ink inside. Even then neither Mudd nor his wife told an accurate story. Both denied that they had any idea it was Booth, notwithstanding the fact that they were well acquainted with him, and notwithstanding that his was a personality with voice and manner that once known could never be forgotten.
When Mudd was being taken to the Dry Tortugas after his conviction, he admitted to the officers, who had him in charge, that he recognized Booth and Herold the morning after the murder when he came to have his leg dressed.
Mudd only served three years' imprisonment and was liberated with Spangler, as was Arnold. O'Laughlin died of the Yellow Fever in an epidemic in the prison, and Dr. Mudd rendered his professional services so efficiently, that it was on this ground he received his discharge from President Johnson, who had promised he would do so before retiring from office. The liberation of these assassins of President Lincoln by his successor, caused much sharp comment and criticism from Lincoln's friends. It seems almost unbelievable that any sort of leniency should have been shown to these criminals who were guilty not only of the murder of the most distinguished American, but of high treason to their government!
It may be interesting to the reader to know that in the book written by Dr. Mudd's daughter, she proudly boasts of the fact that her mother is a graduate of the Visitation Convent at Georgetown and that on graduation her diploma was presented to her class by "Cardinal Bodini, who was the first papal Legate to the United States."
The lady does not state, perhaps she did not know, that Cardinal Bodini, prior to his elevation as papal Legate was known all over Italy as the BUTCHER of Bologna, because of the many Italian patriots he ordered put to death and that he gave the order that the Revolutionary priest, Ugo Bassi, who was the devoted follower of Garibaldi, should be tortured three hours before his execution.
She neglects also to state that this was the same Cardinal Bodini, who was made to leave this country between suns by the KNOW NOTHINGS—God bless them, and all their kind!
Spangler, broken in health, returned with Dr. Mudd and made his home with him until his death in 1875. He is buried in the cemetery, two miles from the Mudd residence, near St. Peter's church. Dr. Mudd lies buried in the little country graveyard connected with St. Mary's church where he first met Booth on that bright November morning in 1864.
The body of John Wilkes Booth was given to his brother, Edwin, who had it removed from the old penitentiary in the Arsenal grounds, where it had been since the burial of the other four of his fellow conspirators, by a Baltimore undertaker, assisted by a local Washington undertaking firm, Harvey & Marr, to Baltimore, and buried in the Booth family lot at beautiful Greenmount cemetery.
The army box labeled with Booth's name at the time of the burial was somewhat decayed but the body was identified by the dentist who had filled several teeth, and who had no difficulty in identifying it as that of Booth. The skull had become detached but the jet black hair hung in long black ringlets. Edwin Booth did not view the body but remained close by until notified of the complete identification. He ordered the body placed in a casket which had been provided by him and shipped to Baltimore.
The mother of Michael O'Laughlin was given the body of her son, which was shipped from the prison burial ground and placed in the Catholic cemetery in Baltimore.
Next: Chapter 10 | Table of Contents
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