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- The Life, Crime and Capture of John Wilkes Booth - 1/23 -


THE LIFE, CRIME, AND CAPTURE

OF

JOHN WILKES BOOTH,

WITH A FULL SKETCH OF THE

Conspiracy of which he was the Leader,

AND THE

PURSUIT, TRIAL AND EXECUTION OF HIS ACCOMPLICES.

BY GEORGE ALFRED TOWNSEND,

A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT.

[Illustration: THE LIFE, CRIME, AND CAPTURE OF John Wilkes Booth AND THE PURSUIT, TRIAL AND EXECUTION OF HIS ACCOMPLICES.]

EXPLANATORY.

One year ago the writer of the letters which follow, visited the Battle Field of Waterloo. In looking over many relics of the combat preserved in the Museum there, he was particularly interested in the files of journals contemporary with the action. These contained the Duke of Wellington's first despatch announcing the victory, the reports of the subordinate commanders, and the current gossip as to the episodes and hazards of the day.

The time will come when remarkable incidents of these our times will be a staple of as great curiosity as the issue of Waterloo. It is an incident without a precedent on this side of the globe, and never to be repeated.

Assassination has made its last effort to become indigenous here. The public sentiment of Loyalist and Rebel has denounced it: the world has remarked it with uplifted hands and words of execration. Therefore, as long as history shall hold good, the murder of the President will be a theme for poesy, romance and tragedy. We who live in this consecrated time keep the sacred souvenirs of Mr. Lincoln's death in our possession; and the best of these are the news letters descriptive of his apotheosis, and the fate of the conspirators who slew him.

I represented the _World_ newspaper at Washington during the whole of those exciting weeks, and wrote their occurrences fresh from the mouths of the actors. Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865,

By DICK & FITZGERALD,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York.

PREFATORY.

It has seemed fitting to Messrs. DICK & FITZGERALD to reproduce the _World_ letters, as a keepsake for the many who received them kindly. The Sketches appended were conscientiously written, and whatever embellishments they may seem to have grew out of the stirring events,--not out of my fancy.

Subsequent investigation has confirmed the veracity even of their speculations. I have arranged them, but have not altered them; if they represent nothing else, they do carry with them the fever and spirit of the time. But they do not assume to be literal history: We live too close to the events related to decide positively upon them. As a brochure of the day,--nothing more,--I give these Sketches of a Correspondent to the public.

G. A. T.

THE LIFE, CRIME, AND CAPTURE

OF

JOHN WILKES BOOTH.

LETTER I.

THE MURDER.

Washington, April 17.

Some very deliberate and extraordinary movements were made by a handsome and extremely well-dressed young man in the city of Washington last Friday. At about half-past eleven o'clock A. M., this person, whose name is J. Wilkes Booth, by profession an actor, and recently engaged in oil speculations, sauntered into Ford's Theater, on Tenth, between E and F streets, and exchanged greetings with the man at the box-office. In the conversation which ensued, the ticket agent informed Booth that a box was taken for Mr. Lincoln and General Grant, who were expected to visit the theater, and contribute to the benefit of Miss Laura Keene, and satisfy the curiosity of a large audience. Mr. Booth went away with a jest, and a lightly-spoken "Good afternoon." Strolling down to Pumphreys' stable, on C street, in the rear of the National Hotel, he engaged a saddle horse, a high-strung, fast, beautiful bay mare, telling Mr. Pumphreys that he should call for her in the middle of the afternoon.

From here he went to the Kirkwood Hotel, on the corner of Pennsylvania avenue and Twelfth street, where, calling for a card and a sheet of notepaper, he sat down and wrote upon the first as follows:

_For Mr. Andrew Johnson_:--

I don't wish to disturb you; are you at home?

J. W. Booth.

To this message, which was sent up by the obliging clerk, Mr. Johnson responded that he was very busily engaged. Mr. Booth smiled, and turning to his sheet of note-paper, wrote on it. The fact, if fact it is, that he had been disappointed in not obtaining an examination of the Vice-President's apartment and a knowledge of the Vice-President's probable whereabouts the ensuing evening, in no way affected his composure. The note, the contents of which are unknown, was signed and sealed within a few moments. Booth arose, bowed to an acquaintance, and passed into the street. His elegant person was seen on the avenue a few minutes, and was withdrawn into the Metropolitan Hotel.

At 4 P. M., he again appeared at Pumphreys' livery stable, mounted the mare he had engaged, rode leisurely up F street, turned into an alley between Ninth And Tenth streets, and thence into an alley reloading to the rear of Ford's Theater, which fronts on Tenth street, between E and F streets. Here he alighted and deposited the mare in a small stable off the alley, which he had hired sometime before for the accommodation of a saddle-horse which he had recently sold. Mr. Booth soon afterward retired from the stable, and is supposed to have refreshed himself at a neighboring bar-room.

At 8 o'clock the same evening, President Lincoln and Speaker Colfax sat together in a private room at the White House, pleasantly conversing. General Grant, with whom the President had engaged to attend Ford's Theater that evening, had left with his wife for Burlington, New-Jersey, in the 6 o'clock train. After this departure Mr. Lincoln rather reluctantly determined to keep his part of the engagement, rather than to disappoint his friends and the audience. Mrs. Lincoln, entering the room and turning to Mr. Colfax, said, in a half laughing, half serious way, "Well, Mr. Lincoln, are you going to the theater with me or not?" "I suppose I shall have to go, Colfax," said the President, and the Speaker took his leave in company with Major Rathbone, of the Provost-Marshal General's office, who escorted Miss Harris, daughter of Senator Harris, of New York. Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln reached Ford's Theater at twenty minutes before 9 o'clock.

The house was filled in every part with a large and brilliantly attired audience. As the presidential party ascended the stairs, and passed behind the dress circle to the entrance of the private box reserved for them, the whole assemblage, having in mind the recent Union victories, arose, cheered, waving hats and handkerchiefs, and manifesting every other accustomed sign of enthusiasm. The President, last to enter the box, turned before doing so, and bowed a courteous acknowledgment of his reception--At the moment of the President's arrival, Mr. Hawks, one of the actors, performing the well-known part of Dundreary, had exclaimed: "This reminds me of a story, as Mr. Lincoln says." The audience forced him, after the interruption, to tell the story over again. It evidently pleased Mr. Lincoln, who turned laughingly to his wife and made a remark which was not overheard.

[Illustration: Scene of the Assassination.

_X_ President's Position. _A_ The course of the Assassin after the Murder. _BB_ Movable partition not in use on the night of the Assassination. _D_ Door through which the Assassin looked in taking aim. _C_ Closed door through which pistol ball was fired.]

The box in which the President sat consisted of two boxes turned into one, the middle partition being removed, as on all occasions when a state party visited the theater. The box was on a level with the dress circle; about twelve feet above the stage. There were two entrances--the door nearest to the wall having been closed and locked; the door nearest the balustrades of the dress circle, and at right angles with it, being open and left open, after the visitors had entered. The interior was carpeted, lined with crimson paper, and furnished with a sofa covered with crimson velvet, three arm chairs similarly covered, and six cane-bottomed chairs. Festoons of flags hung before the front of the box against a background of lace.


The Life, Crime and Capture of John Wilkes Booth - 1/23

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