" 'Make as sure of your aim as I have done in arranging for your escape. For in your complete success lies our only hope.
"I replied, 'I will shoot him in the brain.'
"I returned to the theater. I saw the President and party later take their seats in the box. I moved my position to a convenient space, and at the time when the way was clear and the play was well before the footlights I entered the President's box, closed the door behind me and instantly placed my pistol so near it almost touched his head and fired the shot which killed President Lincoln and made Andrew Johnson President of the United States and myself an outcast, a wanderer, and gave me the name of an assassin. As I fired the same instant I leaped from the box to the stage, my right spur entangled in something in the drapery on the box, which caused me to miss my aim or location on the stage and threw my shin bone against the edge of the stage, which fractured my right shin bone about six or eight inches above the ankle. (At this point St. Helen, exposing his shin, called attention to what seemed to be a niched or uneven surface on the shin bone. This I did not notice closely, but casually it appeared to have been a wound or fracture.)
"From the stage I reached my horse in safety, which by arrangement was being held by David E. Herold, back of the theater and close to the door of the back entrance. With Herold's assistance I mounted my horse and rode away with full speed without hindrance, and reached the bridge at the East Potomac river, crossing the same with my horse at full pace. When I came to the gate across the east end of the bridge there stood a Federal guard, who asked me a question easy to answer:
" 'Where are you going?'
"I then replied, 'T. B. Road,' as I had been instructed by Mr. Johnson, and without further question the guard called for assistance to help raise the gate quickly, when I at once again urged my horse to full speed and went on to Surrattville, where I waited for Herold to overtake me, as prearranged, whom I expected to follow closely behind. After waiting a few minutes Herold caqie up and . we rode the remainder of the night until about 3 o'clock on the morning of the 15th of April 1865, when we reached the home of Dr. Mudd, where Dr. Mudd, by cutting a sfitin it, removed my riding boot from the injured right foot and leg and proceeded to dresd it by bandaging it with strips of cloth and pieces of cigar boxes, and the riding boot was left at the home of Dr. Mudd, where we remained during the rest of the day, and at nightfall proceeded on our journey, my bootless right foot being covered only by the sock and the leg as bandaged and splinted by Dr. Mudd.
"I understood from the meeting that the president was his subordinate in Masonry...."
Gen. Gordon Granger's 1866 testimony before Judiciary Committee regarding the Scottish Rite, during Andrew Johnson's impeachment.
"Don't wish to disturb you. Are you at home? J. Wilkes Booth."
In an act that would haunt Andrew Johnson during his impeachment trial; just seven hours before Lincoln's assassination, John Wilkes Booth left a note at Vice President Andrew Johnson's residence that read "Don't wish to disturb you. Are you at home? J. Wilkes Booth."
Shortly after his impeachment investigation began, Albert Pike and Gen. Gordon Granger met with President Andrew Johnson for some three hours at the White House. Soon afterwards, when Granger was summoned before the Judiciary Committee, he was asked to disclose the substance of that conversation with the president. Granger testified:
"They [President Johnson and Pike] talked a great deal about Masonry. More about that than anything else... And from what they talked about between them, I gathered that he [Pike] was the superior of the President in Masonry..."
The man President Johnson was subordinate to was Confederate Gen. Albert Pike. Gen. Pike was wanted by the Union army on conspiracy charges, having fled to Canada after Lincoln's assassination. He was then pardoned by Andrew Johnson, giving rise to charges of treason.
In 1957 Ray A. Neff of Gibbsboro, New Jersey, walked into Leary's bookshop in Philadelphia and purchased a faded, second-hand book for fifty cents. Unbeknownst to Neff, inside that dusty military journal was a profound and stunning confession from the grave of a Union Col. and traitor, Lafayette Baker.
Booth was not alone, and according to Gen. Baker, did indeed survive.
And as late as 1977, the FBI, did in fact investigate the issue of JOHN WILKES BOOTH and his possible survival. (Recently the Bureau released 184 pages in PDF format: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 ,Part 4.) According to the FBI,
"These records contain correspondence dated 1922-23 of William J. Burns, former Director of the Bureau of Investigation, concerning a theory that Booth lived many years after the assassination of President Lincoln. Also included are the results of a 1948 examination by the FBI Laboratory of a boot said to be worn by Booth on the night of the assassination and a 1977 examination of a diary belonging to Booth."
On January 23, 1923, William J. Burns, by then the acting director of the Department of Justice wrote
"I have gone over with considerable interest the volume entitled "The Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth" by Finis L. Bates of Memphis, Tennessee...The work contains very strong evidence in support of the old belief that Booth did escape and live many years after the assassination of President Lincoln..."
(see page 12, booth1.pdf )
In fear for his life, Gen. Baker wrote the aforementioned confession before he was fatally poisoned with arsenic in 1868. If someone today could forge this confession, he would have to learn two different ciphers, and then invent a time machine, because he would have to perform the deed no later than October 1872. The book itself is referred to in a Philadelphia probate hearing held October 14 and 15, 1872; when William Carter testified that Lafayette Baker gave him an English military journal in the days before he died, which Carter tried to decipher but couldn't, even though he was familiar with codes from his days in the National Detective Police during the Civil War.
Carter also testified that he saw Baker writing his coded memoirs in the margins of numerous books; the same which were the subject of the hearing, and that Baker tried to give him about a dozen boxes of books and papers.
When John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln, he was already famous for playing in Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar", and the allusion to Booth is obvious-- he's "one of the sons of Brutus". Johnson, who was in possession of a letter from Booth before the assassination, is also one of the the "sons". Judas was Edwin Stanton-- Lincoln's Secretary of War, whom at the moment Lincoln died, actually did say "Now the ages have him and the nation now have I."
Both diaries, Bakers and Booth's, gave parallel accounts of the assassination. Both implicated, even boasted of a secret government council (the Scottish Rite) which in the interests of the British Crown has bound a nation, the United States of America, for over a century. (Gen. Baker's coded diaries, incidentally, were written in the margins of a British military journal; Colburn's United Service Magazine/Naval and Military Journal.) The coded book, its messages written in a sliding cipher, revealed that the true killers were led by Lincoln's most trusted military adviser in the Civil War: Edwin McMasters Stanton.
Baker's decoded confession in Colburn's United Service Magazine, an English military journal, was dated February 5, 1868 and read as follows:
"I am constantly being followed. They are professionals. I cannot fool them. In new Rome there walked three men, a Judas, a Brutus and a spy. Each planned that he should be king when Abraham should die. One trusted not the other but they went on for that day, waiting for the final moment when, with pistol in his hand, one of the sons of Brutus could sneak behind that cursed man and put a bullet in his brain and lay his clumsey [sic] corpse away. As the fallen man lay dying, Judas came and paid respects to the one he hated, and when at last he saw him die, he said 'Now the ages have him and the nation now have I' But alas, fate would have it Judas slowly fell from grace, and with him went Brutus down to their proper place. But lest one is left to wonder what happened to the spy, I can safely tell you this, it was I."
It was signed Lafayette C. Baker. And he wasn't as safe as he thought. Baker, chief of the National Detective Police Force and fellow conspirator, General Lafayette Baker, chief of the National Detective Police Force and fellow conspirator, wrote Stanton's plot was a vast, well financed attempt to seize control of the federal government. Numerous attempts would be made on his life until he was finally poisoned with arsenic in 1868. His personal physician confirmed the poisoning by applying leeches behind his ears. Sure enough, as they became engorged, they dropped off dead.
According to witnesses who aided in John Wilkes Booth's escape, Booth told them this conspiracy involved fifty to one hundred; and thirty-five in Washington alone. The only way a conspiracy like this could work is if they all belonged to the same secret society, and they did.
"From the home of Dr. Mudd I went to the home I of a Southern sympathizer by the name of Cox, ' which we reached between 4 and 5 o'clock on the morning of the 16th day of April, 1865. Mr. Cox refused to admit us into his house, the news of the death of President Lincoln having preceded us, and he feared for this reason to take Herold and I in. —But he called his overseer, or manager about the place, and instructed him to hide us in a pine thicket on or near the banks of the Potomac river, just back and Eainbridge to Meet Booth at Pons Royal and Conway of and near his plantation. This man, the<oversee*y was of medium size, approximately my weight, but not quite so tall, I should say, swarthy complexioned, black hair and eyes, with a short growth of whiskers over his face. I called him by that familiar cognomen known to the Confederate soldiers, 'Johnny.1 I have the impression, whether correct or not I cannot say, from having heard his name called by a Mr. Jones, a relative of Mr. Cox, that it was Buddy or Roby, but heard this only a few times. Of course, this may have been a given name, nickname or surname, I don't know how this was; I was not specially interested in knowing his name and was with him but a short while, having nego tiirted with him to put us across the country and into the care and protection of the Confederate soldiers.
"Ruddy told me (if this be his name) that some "V of Col. Mosby's command of Confederate troops was then encamped not far south of the Rappahannock river at or near Bowling Green, Virginia, and agreed to convey and deliver us to these Confederate troops for a price, as I now best remember, about three hundred dollars. Ruddy, as we will call him, left us in our hiding place until he could go to Bowling Green, some thirty-five miles or more distant, with a view of arranging with some of these soldiers to meet us at a fixed time and place—proposedly on the Rappahannock river, which was then about the dividing line between the contending Federal and Confederate armies.
"Ruddy left and did not return for several days, from say the 16th or 17th to the 21st of April, 1865. Herold and I were cared for during his absence by Mr. Jones, the relative, I think, half brother of Mr. Cox. On Ruddy's return he reported that the desired arrangements had been made with Capt. Jett and others of Mosby's command, then stationed at Bowling Green, Virginia, south of the Rappahannock river, to meet us at the ferry on the Rappahannock river at Ports Conway and Royal, as early as 2 o'clock P. M. of April 22, 1865. So we immediately started for this point on the night of the 21st of April, crossed the Potomac river, reaching the south side of the Potomac river we then had about eighteen miles to go from the Potomac to the Rappahannock river to the point agreed upon. This distance was through an open country, and we were liable to be come upon at any moment by the Federal troops; so to guard against this I arranged the plan of my flight, covering this distance from the Potomac to the Rappahannock to be the scene of an old negro moving. An old negro near the summer home of Dr. Stewart possessed of two impoverished horses and a dilapidated wagon was hired for the trip.
Straw was first placed in the bottom of the wagon I got in on this straw and stretched out full length; then slats were placed over the first compartment of the bed, giving me a space of about eighteen inches deep, which required me to remain lying on the straw during the entire trip. On the first compartment of the wagon bed was placed the second portion of the wagon body, commonly called sideboards, then was piled on this old chairs, beds, mattresses, quilts and such other paraphernalia as is ordinarily kept in a negro's home. A number of chickens were caught and put in a split basket, which was then made fast to the hind gate of the wagon, with old quilts, blankets, etc., thrown over the back end of the wagon, exposing the basket of chickens, and the wagon or team was driven by the old negro, the owner of the same, and contents, except myself. And now having this arrangement perfect in all details, we at once, about 6 o 'clock A.M., left on our perilous trip from the Potomac to the Rappahannock river with Ports Conway and Royal as our destination, covering the distance of about eighteen or twenty miles without incident or accident on our march; Herold and Ruddy following along in the wake of the wagon, some distance behind, they told me, so as not to detract from the scene of the plot which was to be taken as one of an old negro moving.
"In my concealment, of course, I had to be very quiet. I could not talk to old Lewis, the old negro driver, and made myself as comfortable as I could be in my cramped position. In my side coat pocket I had a number of letters, together with my diary, and I think there was a picture of my sister, Mrs. Clark, all of which must have worked out of my pocket en route or came out as I was hurriedly taken from the wagon. Just as we drew up at the ferry old Lewis called out:
" 'Dar's dem soldiers now.'
"And at the same moment some one began tearing away the things from the back gate of the wagon, who proved to be Herold and Buddy, much to my relief, as they had begun unceremoniously to remove the back gate of the wagon, which necessarily excited me very much, as the driver did not say Confederate soldiers, and the 'soldiers' referred to flashed through my brain as being Federal soldiers. But before I can tell you the back of the wagon was taken away, I was pulled out by the heels by Harold and Ruddy, and at once hustled into the ferry boat and over the river, where our Confederate friends were waiting for us. They, in fact, being the 'soldiers' referred to by Lewis, the driver.
"In the hurry, as well as the method of taking me from the wagon, I think the letters, diary and picture of my sister, were lost from my pocket, as I was dragged out. About this I can't say, but I do know that after I had crossed the river and was feeling in my pocket to get the check, which I had on a Canadian bank, and with which I paid this man Buddy for his services he had rendered us, for an amount, as I now remember it, of about sixty pounds, I discovered I had lost these papers. I asked Buddy to go back over the river and get them out of the wagon, if they were there, and bring them to me at the Garrett home, where the soldiers had arranged to take me until Herold and Buddy should go to Bowling Green, Virginia, that afternoon, it being then about 2 o'clock.
"This man Buddy stepped into an old batteau boat to go over to the wagon and get these papers after I handed him his check. We being too exposed to wait for his return, I hurriedly rode away with the two gentlemen to whom I had been introduced as Lieuts. Buggies and Bainbridge, to the Garrett home, mounted on a horse belonging to the man to whom I had been introduced as Capt. Jett. These gentlemen, as I understood it, were connected with Mosby's command of Confederate soldiers. But before separating at this ferry it had been understood between Herold, Ruddy and myself that they would go to Bowling Green, Virginia, that afternoon, in company with Capt. Jett, on foot, by a near way, for the purpose of getting me a shoe for my lame foot and such other things as Herold and I needed and that could not be obtained at Ports Conway and Royal, and they were to return and meet me the next day at the Garrett home, where Ruddy would deliver to me the papers mentioned, if recovered.
"The Garrett home, I should say, is about three miles north of the public road crossing the Rappahannock river at Ports Conway and Royal and leading in a southerly direction to Bowling Green, Virginia. From the ferry we went out the Bowling Green road a short distance westerly; we then turned and rode north on a country or bridle road for a distance of about three miles and a half, when we reached the Garrett home, where Lieuts. Bainbridge and Ruggles left me, but were to keep watch in the distance over me until Ruddy and Herold returned, which they were expected to do the following day, it being some twelve or fifteen miles walk for them. They were to remain there (at Bowling Green) over night of the day they left me and return the following day.
"About one or .two o'clock in the afternoon of April the 23d, 1865, the second day of my stay at the Garrett home, I was out in the front yard, lounging on the meadow, when Lieuts. Bainbridge and Buggies came up hurriedly and notified me that a squad of Yankee troops had crossed the Rappahannock river in hot pursuit of me, and advised me to leave at once and go back into the woods north of the Garrett house, in a wooded ravine, which they pointed out, giving me a signal whistle by which I would know them, and hurriedly rode off, saying that they would return for me in about an hour at the place designated, and bring with them a horse for my escape.
"I left immediately, without letting anyone know that I had gone or the direction I had taken. I reached the woods at about the place which had been pointed out to me, as nearly as one could traveling in a strange wooded section with the impediment of a lame leg. At about the time fixed I was •delighted to hear the signal, and answered, to the best of my recollection, about three or four o'clock P. M. My friends came up with an extra horse, which I mounted, and we rode away in a westerly <direction, riding the remainder of the afternoon and the following night until about twelve o'clock, when we camped together in the woods, or rather dismounted to rest ourselves and horses until daylight. We talked over the situation, they giving me directions by which I should travel. When we at last separated in a country road, they said about twenty or twenty-five miles to the west of the Garrett home or Ports Royal and Conway; I, of course, thanked them and offered them pay for the services they had rendered me and the price of the horse they had turned over to me, all of which they refused to accept, and bade me goodbye, with the warning that I should keep my course well to the westward for that day's ride, and then, after this day's ride, continue my journey to the southwest.
"As advised by them, I rode on westerly through all the country roads as I came to them leading in that direction until about ten o'clock A.M. of the second day out from the Garrett home, when, owing to the fatigue of myself and horse, and suffering from my wounded leg, I found it necessary to rest and stopped at a small farm house on the country road, where there seemed to live only three elderly ladies, who, at my request, took me in as a wounded Confederate soldier, fed my horse and gave me breakfast, and as I now best remember, I compensated them, paying them one dollar in small silver coin.