Trial of the Assassins
Mrs. Mary (Jenkens) SURRATT at Trial - Click on thumbnail for larger view!
Sarrett/Surratt/SURRATT Families of America (SFA)©
"Trial of the Assassins" Chapter 4.
Mrs. Mary (Jenkens) SURRATT returning from Trial - Click on thumbnail for larger view!
JOHN WILKES BOOTH new that the President ABRAHAM & Mrs. MARY (TOD) LINCOLN was to be at Ford's Theater on the evening of Friday April 14, 1865. That afternoon the tired President said to a friend: "It has been advertised that we will be there, and I cannot disappoint the people, otherwise I would not go. I do not want to go."

The President and Mrs. LINCOLN reached the theater about 9:00 P.M. April 14, 1865. They were accompanied by a young officer and his fiancee. The Presidential party was shown to a flag draped box, where Mr. LINCOLN eased himself into an upholstered rocking chair to enjoy the play. A half hour later, about 9:30 P.M. JOHN WILKES BOOTH arrived at the Theater. Pres. LINCOLN'S unreliable guard had left his post, and the entrance to the Presidential box was unguarded. JOHN WILKES BOOTH slipped along a back corridor and hurried to the door of the box. He sighted Mr. LINCOLN through a hole he had drilled in the door that morning. He silently entered, aimed a six-inch brass derringer at the back of Mr. LINCOLN'S head, and fired. After grappling with the young officer for a moment or two, JOHN WILKES BOOTH jumped from the box. He landed on the stage, breaking his leg as he fell. Quickly he rushed out through the wings and escaped on a horse waiting in the alley.

Mr. LINCOLN was carried into a private house across the street from the theater. Through out the night doctors did what they could to save Mr. LINCOLN'S life, but at 7:22 A.M. the next morning, Saturday April 15, 1865 President ABRAHAM LINCOLN died.

Some 11 days later, on Wedensday, 26 April 1865, JOHN WILKES BOOTH was trapped and killed in the burning barn of Mr. GARRETT, in Bowling Green, Virginia.
[See The "Pursuit, Capture, Death & Burial" of JOHN WILKES BOOTH for Continuation. Chapter 3 ..prs]

Although from the start BOOTH was known for certain to be the murderer, in the wild turmoil of the crime's aftermath scores of suspected accomplices were arrested and thrown into prison. When these were finally narrowed down to the eight (8) prisoners - Seven Men and One Woman considered guilty enough to try in court. Secretary STANTON invented an unusual and spectacular torture for them. He ordered eight heavy canvas hoods made, padded with 1 inch thick cotton, and only one small hole opening for eating, no openings for eyes or ears. Secretary STANTON ordered that the "Headbags" be worn by the 7 men "day and night" as a preventive to conversation. Headbag Number 8 has been reported, never used on Mrs. MARY E. (JENKINS) SURRATT. It is believed that Secretary STANTON knew the furor on indignation that this would cause. [REF: #5. pg186]

A ball of extra cotton padding was placed covering the eyes so that there was painful pressure on the closed eyelids. No baths or washing of any kind were allowed, and during the hot breathless weeks of the trial the prisoners' faces became more swollen and bloated by the day, and even the prison Doctor began to fear for the conspirators' sanity inside those heavy hoods laced so tightly around their necks. But Secretary STANTON would not let them be removed, nor the rigid wrist irons, nor the anklets each of which was connected to an iron ball weighing 75 pounds. [REF: #5. pg186]

The winnowing process had been a slow one, for the Old Capital Prison and its wooden annex, Carroll Prison, were bulging with Secretary STANTON suspects. [REF: #5. pg187]

SAMUEL COX; A stanch Confederate, whose slaves set the United States Detective Bureau on BOOTH'S and HEROLD'S tracks, though it was not known that they harbored the guilty pair for better part of a week, near Fort Tobacco. [REF: #5. pg187]

THOMAS A. BROWN/JONES; A Confederate mail-runner, whose slaves set the United States Detective Bureau on BOOTH'S and HEROLD'S tracks, though it was not known that they harbored the guilty pair for better part of a week, near Fort Tobacco, Maryland. [REF: #5. pg187] He was released for lack of evidence, but many years later he admitted hiding BOOTH in the thicket for six days and feeding him. [REF: #5. pg203]

JOHN T. FORD; The owner of the FORD theater, who had been in Richmond, VA. on Friday, Apr. 14, 1865, was imprisoned for 40 days. The other 2 FORD Brothers who had been in Washington, D.C. were arrested and jailed. [REF: #5. pg186]

JOHN M. LLOYD; the drunken Innkeeper of the SURRATT's INN in Prince George's Co., MD. He rented the SURRATT'S Tavern in Dec. 1864, when Mrs. MARY E. (JENKINS) SURRATT, moved 13 miles North to her Washington, D.C. Boarding House. [REF: #5. pg186]

JAMES PUNPHREY; the Washington, D.C. livery stable owner from whom BOOTH had hired his horse. [REF: #5. pg186]

Dr. RICHARD STEWART; [REF: #5. pg186] Need More Information.

LOUIS J. WELCHMANN; a boarder of Mrs. MARY E. (JENKINS) SURRATT Boarding House. Weeks before he had informed the War Department of the Plot-to-Capture, but Secretary STANTON had paid it no heed. [REF: #5. pg186]

By Friday, April 28, 1865 (15 days after the Assassination) the authorities had eight people it had decided to prosecute for having conspired to kill President LINCOLN. The new President JOHNSON signed an executive order that a Military Commission of 9 Officers be named to try the alleged assassins. President JOHNSON had acted after hearing the opinion of the Attorney General JAMES SPEED that a military rather than a Civil Trial was proper, as the head of the United States Army and Navy had been killed at the a time when the country was still partially at war, in the country's capital while it was strongly fortified against invasion. The Officers were selected, 7 Generals and 2 Colonels, with Major General DAVID HUNTER as the presiding member of the commission. The Judge Advocate General JOSEPH HOLT and 2 Assistant Judge Advocates would conduct the trial.

During the late hours of Saturday, April 29, 1865 STANTON ordered the accused to move from the Gunboats to the building with its high stone walls, (which 4 would never leave) the Old Penitentiary, (Under a floor which already lay the body of BOOTH) Mrs. SURRATT, heavily veiled, and the 7 men in their suffocating canvas hoods were led through a passageway of soldiers and up the steps of the Old Penitentiary out side of which the pleasure boats going to and from Mount Vernon down the Potomac passed very near. The prisoners were lodged in cells on the second and third floors. Had they been able to stand on the Old Penitentiary's roof, with their hoods off, they could have looked Northwest to the City of Washington D.C. across a stretch of river, and seen clearly the Washington Monument stump, the White House, the red, many-towered Smithsonian, and the Capitol with the statue of Freedom on its dome. But there was no such excursion planned as a trip to the roof for this group. The prisoners were placed in cells separated from each other by an empty cell on each side. (they would have to shout to hear each other) each prisoner was guarded with 4 soldiers, each still wore the suffocating hood, the stiff shackles, and steel anklets connected by chains to an 75 lbs. iron ball for each foot, except for Mrs. SURRATT whose feet were merely chained together. [REF: #5. pg193]

The Commission choose a courtroom which would be an easy walk from the cells, a large, upper-story room which had been freshly white-washed. Even with its four closely barred windows, it was breathless in there on hot days and there were plenty of them as the Trial continued on into the burning Washington D.C. summer. [REF: #5. pg193]

The trial of the 8 alleged assassins began on Tuesday, May 09, 1865 (26 days after the Assassination) and ground on through long days of testimony heard from more than 400 witnesses, through June 30, 1865. In all that time not one of the prisoners was ever allowed to take the stand and say a word for their defense. Questions by the court and answers by witnesses trying to have the 7 men and Mrs. MARY (JENKINS) SURRATT, and those hoping to free them, were published daily word for word in the newspapers and the whole nation read each chapter of the to- be-continued mystery story - impatiently awaiting each new session's developments. To many it seemed as though the government was only slightly and rather grumpily interested in the 8 unimportant wretches it had in its grasp and was really expending all its might in trying a group of men who were still annoyingly free - a list of names that held great fascination for they belonged to the high officials of the hated Confederacy. Of course the 8 in the courtroom would be punished, but the important thing was to prove the guilt of JEFFERSON DAVIS and the group of top leaders who had been operating from the safety of Canada - where BOOTH and JOHN H. SURRATT, Jr. were known to have journeyed, and they just must all be found implicated in the plot together, somehow.

The military court was not slow in producing a bomb-shell. It produced two printers who had set the type for a 5-day repeat notice in the Selma, Alabama, Dispatch starting on Dec. 01, 1864, announcing that for 1 Million dollars the placer of the notice would agree to kill ABRAHAM LINCOLN, WILLIAM H. SEWARD, and ANDREW JOHNSON by the 1st of March -- "That will give us peace and satisfy the world that cruel tyrants cannot live in a 'land of liberty'!' -- The anonymous speaker would himself donate, as a starter, 1,000 dollars toward the patriotic purpose of slaughtering the three villains, and the post office box number was given which would await contributions. It was never proven that JEFFERSON DAVIS or any other to Confederates, had the slightest connection with the attention-grabbing Selma, Alabama, offer, even though Secretary STANTON, the over-all director of the trial, wanted desperately to discover evidence that would implicate the Confederate high powers in the assassination. Even though Secretary STANTON was happily positive he already had the goods on them in their efforts to start epidemics throughout the country by the introduction of deadly germs into populated areas; in their plans for setting multiple fires in the larger northern cites; for poisoning water supplies; blowing up the Union shipping; deliberately starving to death thousands of Northern prisoners -- in short, "the disorganization of the North by infernal plots."

Lacking the physical presence of its most wanted criminals, the Military Commission had to get to work anyway and make do with what it had, so on Tuesday, May 9th. 1865, its first day of convening, it graciously adjourned to allow its 8 prisoners 24 hours to procure counsel to defend them. As all the prisoners had been imprisoned incommunicado for a good part of 3 weeks, they had not been able to do much about this problem and it was extraordinary that as able a group of defenders were so quickly assembled and agreed to do their best, free of charge.

The most distinguished member of the Defense was REVERDY JOHNSON, who had been Attorney General of the United States and Senator from Maryland, who had never met Mrs. SURRATT, and now offered to be her lawyer, and he brought with him the Junior lawyers of his practice, FREDERICK AIKEN and JOHN CLAMPIT.

The extremely able and high-minded lawyer THOMAS S. EWING, Jr. brother-in-law of General SHERMAN, who had just returned from distinguished service in the war took on both Dr. SAMUEL A. MUDD and EDWARD SPANGLER, though being a part of this unpopular Defense was the last thing he felt like doing just then.

FREDERICK STONE agreed to do his best for DAVID HEROLD and WALTER S. COX held the futures of SAMUEL B. ARNOLD and MICHAEL O'LAUGHLIN in his care, and successful Attorney Colonel WILLIAM E. DOSTER, accepted a difficult client of GEORGE T. ATZERODT. Then, because LEWIS T. POWELL/PAINE was entirely friendless and without a member of his family anywhere nearby Colonel DOSTER accepted him "temporarily" but had to keep him permanently as no offer to help the outstanding villain among the 8 ever turned up. Colonel DOSTER was in no way deceived as to the hopelessness of his task -- as he himself put it -- "this was a contest in which a few lawyers were on one side, and the whole United States on the other, a case in which, of course, the verdict was known beforehand."

Each day official members of the court and witnesses were brought from the center of Washington D.C by ambulances. The witnesses waited in small anteroom until they were called one by one to stand at a railed platform in the center of the room, facing the court to answer questions. All those who came from the outside world walked into the Penitentiary and up what seemed endless flights of twisting stairs squeezing past soldiers on guard every few feet, then through narrow passageways where they were seated in time to view the slowmarch of "the eight miserable wretches" to their appointed seats on the raised dock. The prisoners' hoods were always removed for the daily walk into the courtroom from their cells, and they took their places with a soldier between each one. Mrs. SURRATT, all in black and with a heavy veil over her head and face, sat at the far left end as the Military Commission faced the prisoners, rather chastely, a few feet removed from the rest. Mrs. SURRATT had been given an armchair, all the other prisoners were in straight wooden chairs. As the prisoners rose each noon to file out of the courtroom for the luncheon recess, there was suddenly filling the room the harsh clank and scraping of irons, the higher ringing -- almost a tinkle in comparison with the heavy chains -- of Mrs. SURRATT's smaller links under her skirts. Soldiers walked beside the men carry the 75 lbs. cannon balls which were fasten to their anklets and which they would barely have been able to pull after them across the straw matting.

There was a table in the large room for stenographers, a long one for the Military Commission, one for the press and a small one for the exhibits like BOOTH's riding boot which Dr. SAMUEL A. MUDD had to split to get it off his swollen leg; his spur; POWELL/PAINE's knife; his slouch hat, and coat; SPANGLER's precious length of rope for crabbing; the candle, and compass that helped BOOTH and HEROLD crossed the Potomac. However, criminally lacking was BOOTH's Diary which set forth in his Friday, April 14, 1865 entry that "he had only on that very day changed his plans from kidnaping to Murder." The presence of that Diary, which Secretary STANTON would keep secret for two years, would certainly have saved Mrs. SURRATT's life, as she was sentenced to hang on having "Conspired to Murder".

Secretary STANTON had seen to it that the prosecution would win, and one of the aids he enlisted to help him was General HENRY L. BURNETT -- appointed for the trial to be Assistant Judge Advocate to JOSEPH HOLT. General BURNETT said Secretary STANTON worked on assembling the evidence that would defeat the prisoners all day every day, and most nights General BURNETT worked with him until sunrise. When the exhausted General BURNETT left around 3:00 o'clock in the morning Secretary STANTON was still bent over his desk at the War Department.

To get this head start on the prisoners Secretary STANTON used all of the United States Beau of Detectives and ordered trains of all the railroads to carry people here and there at his bidding. He sent endless peremptory telegrams and found time as well to keep throwing into prison people about whom their neighbors only "felt there was something funny." Then too, Secretary STANTON dreamed up a wonderful rule for the prosecutors -- the Military Commission could impose any restriction it saw fit -- and that was that when the prisoners got their defending lawyers, they could never see them in their cells to talk over what in their eyes they had done or not done and what should be said now. Instead they could only communicate with their Attorneys in full sight of the crowded Courtroom, separated by a railing and with a soldier on each side listening. It was absolutely hopeless. In sight of the Military Commission and the Press and the spellbound daily visitors Colonel DOSTER's bewildering client POWELL/PAINE just leaned his head against the wall day after day and said nothing -- Colonel DOSTER knew almost nothing about him. The other prisoners leaned forward and whispered their self- justifications and their hopes, pathetically.

LEWIS POWELL/PAINE and Mrs. SURRATT were the two immensely colorful members of the prisoners in the docket -- on whom the country's interest was centered with insatiable curiosity. Next in the strange opposite-of-a-popularity contest ranked Dr. SAMUEL A. MUDD and young DAVID HEROLD. Then GEORGE ATZERODT and EDWARD SPANGLER, the theater handyman. And at the bottom of the eight names, so colorless and boring that people could hardly remember who they were or why they were there, were BOOTH's early friends, SAMUEL ARNOLD and MICHAEL O'LAUGHLIN.

By the time the trial began on Friday, May 12th. 1865, Secretary STANTON knew exactly what witnesses should testify and they were all people who furthered the "Conspiracy" picture. Often they were dismissed and had gone home before the Defense could cross-examine them. Many were from the U.S. Beau of Detectives and seemed to have been coached carefully on what to say. The list of perfectly available witness who could have illuminated the President LINCOLN's murder, and who were not called, seemed to go unnoticed in the daily publicizing of the memories and theories of Secretary STANTON's hand-selected list. No one seemed to notice a pattern in the tenor of what was said and when the defending Lawyers protested, they were gruffly overruled by Advocate General HOLT.

"Peanuts" BURROUGHS said that after SPANAGLER had helped HARRY CLAY FORD decorate the theater box he -- "dammed the President and GRANT and said being dammed was what they deserved for getting so many men killed."

One of the actors in the play Our American Cousin, E.A. EMERSON, said that BOOTH had wacked him over the shoulder with a cane breaking it in four pieces and saying of LINCOLN -- "Did you hear what that old scroundrel did the other day, he went to DAVIS' home in Richmond and threw his long leggs over the arm of a chair and squirted tobacco juice all over the place. Someone ought to kill him."

A Richmond, VA. blind man, SAMUEL P. JONES, testified -- "he had heard a man offer $10,000 for the killing of President Lincoln."

The little old colored women who lived in the alley behind Ford's Theater testified that BOOTHS horse had been out in the alley waiting for an hour and a half, stamping and stamping on the cobblestones, and she thought, "Whatever is the matter with that horse?"

The stableman at 13th. and E streets, describing HEROLD coming for his horse, said he had black eyebrows and "kind of a smile on his face" and made it sound incriminating. On that day that HEROLD's smile was described, May 18, young TAD LINCOLN was in the courtroom in the spectators section and heard Judge OLIN described the red damask chair in which his father was killed as being spattered with drops of blood.

An actor from New York named SAMUEL KNAPP CHESTER, testified that he had rebuffed BOOTH in horror when asked to join the kidnaping conspiracy. BOOTH, he said, had made several trips North to New York to pled with him, offering him $3,000 just to hold the back door of Ford's Theater open while the President was being hustled out to a waiting carriage. CHESTER had refused, and BOOTH angrily told him --"he would ruin him and that he felt like doing worse. He said that the actor JOHN MATTHEWS in Washington, D.C. had refused to join him, he (BOOTH) had felt very much like "sacrificing" him" -- BOOTH's refined word for killing. November 1864 was the date of the first visit to enlist CHESTER, and BOOTH came back to New York after LINCOLN's March 4th. second inauguration. CHESTER faced his follow actor BOOTH, smiling across the table where they were having a drink and BOOTH asked him if he had changed his mind about coming to Washington D.C. and cursed him when he had not. BOOTH said --"there were 50 to 100 people enlisted now and not a chance of anything going wrong, there were plenty of money and plenty of aid waiting "on the other side." The plan was still a harmless "kidnaping -- no one would be hurt and the war would be over, prisoners freed and home again." CHESTER had put on his most dejected expression and ask BOOTH "to think of his (LINCOLN) poor wife and mother", and that was the last he saw of BOOTH.

As the carefully government-carpentered testimony began to pile up on the prisoners, along with it came some interesting, often carefully detailed, sometimes impassioned, refutations. The prosecution had suggested that the silly boy HEROLD with his subnormal smile had been up to no good during the week of February 13th., and his sister EMMA HEROLD hotly contested this. She remembered that DAVY was home on the 13th. because he sent her a Valentine and was there the next day when it arrived in the mail, and that he was still there on Sunday the 19th. because he met her on the stairs and tried to take a pitcher of water she was carrying from her and it spilled all over.

Just as fascinating was the refutation that Dr. SAMUEL A. MUDD had been in Washington D.C. for LINCOLN's second inauguration. One MARCAUS P. NORTON claimed that on the 3rd of the month Dr. MUDD had rushed into his room at the National Hotel, said he must see JOHN WILKES BOOTH immediately and was directed to BOOTH's room. In her brother's defense Miss MARY MUDD said that she knew positively that the Doctor was home at his farm on that day, as he had come to treat her for an eruption on her face and she feared was smallpox, and that he hurried to her bedroom direct from stripping tobacco all day long. He washed the tobacco gum from his hands before he examined her, right there in her room. Miss MARY MUDD also, unfortunately for her brother, described the hat her brother usually wore as a "drab slouch hat" which fitted perfectly the hat he was supposed to have been wearing in Washington, D.C. on 3rd of the month.

During the trial Dr. MUDD had succeeded in whispering, to his lawyer his version of BOOTH's visit to him on the night he set the actor's leg, and the Military Commission must have been pleased with its evasiveness and obvious deviation from the facts. It went like this" "When BOOTH and Herold knocked on his door a 4:00 o'clock on the morning of Saturday, the 15th of April, 1865 having arrived on horseback, the doctor did not recognize BOOTH as the man whom he had dickered some months before on the price for which he would sell him his far,. BOOTH said his name was TYLOR and HAROLD said his was TYSON, and BOOTH was wearing false whiskers -- which of course Dr. MUDD thought were real -- and had the lower part of his face muffled in a shawl. Dr. MUDD cut off BOOTH's boot, set the fractured leg in a cardboard splint, and his servant made a crutch. BOOTH was put in a bed upstairs where he lay till 4:00 o'clock the next afternoon when Mrs. MUDD went up to see him. She brought a tray holding cake, two oranges, and wine -- BOOTH asked for brandy instead of Wine, but there was none. He complained "My back hurts me dreadfully," and he kept his face turned to the wall. Dr. MUDD at that moment was in Bryanton visiting some patients and when he came back TYLER and TYSON had left on their horses, and Mrs. MUDD said that TYLER came down the stairs his whiskers had become detached and almost fell off. Mrs. MUDD wondered is the askew whiskers weren't suspicious but out of fear of being alone, she persuaded the Doctor not to go back to Bryantown to report it. [REF: #5. pg200

During the hours when the prisoner POWELL/PAINE was hooded and back in his cell, ECKERT was there with him, also busily working on the Dr. MUDD story. POWELL/PAINE told him of a meeting of the Conspirators in a room that for once was NOT in Mrs. SURRATT's Boarding House and ECKERT went and found the room -- poked around in a grate in a fireplace there and discovered scraps of paper on which were written details of a "kidnaping" and also, plainly, the name of MUDD. [REF: #5. pg200

About the time POWELL/PAINE's lawyer DOSTER decided that the only hope of saving his troublesome client was to have him declared insane and hope the Military Commission would not be willing to hang a crazy man. He got hold of Dr. NICHOLS, superintendent of the huge Government Insane Asylum up on the hill, plainly seen from the Old Penitentiary -- just across the Anacostia, and based his suspicions of POWELL/PAINE's mental state to Dr. NICHOLS on the facts of POWELL/PAINE had stayed up in a treetop for three days, that he had laughed in Court while trying on his hat, and that his bowels were completely deranged and only worked, according to the guard in his cell, once in every five days, and that POWELL/PAIN had cried "I am mad! I am Mad!" as he ran down the stairs in Secretary STANTON's house after attacking Major AUGUSTS SEWARD. The authority on insanity gave the matter full attention and in the end said that his starving up in a tree was very close to insanity -- he did not feel strongly one way or another about the paralysis of POWELL/PAINE's intestines -- but he did point out that a person who is really mad does not ever tell people "I am mad" and that POWELL/PAINE was positively pretending when he said it. [REF: #5. pg200]

Mrs. SURRATT, evidence was mounting against her even though, to her lawyer and attending Priests in her cell, she steadfastly protested ignorance of any knowledge of the plot which had been hatched in her Boarding House. The Officers who had arrested her said that in her living room was a framed colored picture of three young women representing "Spring, Summer and Autumn" and behind this had been discovered a photograph of JOHN WILKES BOOTH. To add to this, on top of her dresser were two bullet molds. W. M. WANNERSKERCH of the arresting party was ask to identify Mrs. SURRATT as the women he had taken into custody and he replied that he could not see her face. Then, the Court Stenographers reported, "slowly, coolly, Mrs. SURRATT lifted her veil, looked steadily at him and slowly, coolly lowered the veil again." Mrs. SURRATT had to be remove from the courtroom several times because of faintness but in moments like this there was an admiration for her among the visitors -- they thought her a women of "great nerve." [REF: #5. pg201]

It was really the two witnesses LOUIS J. WEICHMANN and JOHN M. LLOYD the keeper of her Surrattville, MD. Tavern who had clinched Mrs. SURRATT's conviction, as the Government meant they should, and for which favor the Government offered them both Immunity and switched them from the ranks of Witnesses who were to be Prosecuted to the safety of State's evidence. [REF: #5. pg201]

LOUIS J. WEICHMANN had been an old school friend of Mrs. SURRATT's son JOHN H. SURRATT, Jr. when he came to her Boarding House on "H" Street in Washington, D.C. Mrs. SURRATT would sit up for him when he was out late and encouraged him in the State Department job in the Prisoners' Commissary Department. There was evidence after the trial and her hanging that LOUIS J. WEICHMANN had been threatened into signing a statement, written out for him, to save his own skin, the Secretary STANTON had frightened him to death by suggesting he was as guilty as the rest in the house and would have to pay the penalty of death. WEICHMANN did summoned enough courage to say to the Judge Advocate during the trial that he (STANTON) had confused and frightened him so much the day before that he did not know what he was saying. [REF: #5. pg201]

But then came the day when his course was clear -- LOUIS J. WEICHMANN was released from Prison and was sent on missions for the Government, even as far away as Canada. And WEICHMANN was completely glib when he told how on the afternoon of the 14th April 1865, BOOTH had come to see Mrs. SURRATT and asked her to drive to the Surrattville Tavern and tell the innkeeper LLOYD to have the shooting irons and whiskey ready that very night for they would be called for. Mrs. SURRATT repeatedly told her lawyers that she had gone to see LLOYD only on business concerning the Tavern, and that was all they had talked about -- but WEICHMANN insisted all he said was true, and he looked so open and honest and so very sorry to have to say the words, that he was believable. [REF: #5. pg201]

As for JOHN M. LLOYD, a former Washington D.C. policeman 2. who gave the two murderers BOOTH & HEROLD their carbines and whisky, he admitted at the trial, that during his meeting with Mrs. SURRATT earlier in the afternoon of April 14th he had been so drunk and could not remember what they had talked about, admitting that by midnight when the two men arrived on horseback he was "right smart on liquor" and though he felt like lying down on the sofa he could not because lying down made him feel sick and dizzy. In spite of the fact that Secretary STANTON had announced that any person found to have harbored or abetted the conspirators in their escape would pay the death penalty, still LLOYD, when he managed to sort out his muddled memories and remember what the Government suggested to him that he had heard, was able to testify that Mrs. SURRATT had asked him to have field glasses and carbines which he had hidden under the rafter ready for the two men who would call for them that night. [REF: #5. pg202]

Just as the War Department decided what certain people would testify and bribed them with a promise of immunity, it also decided just who would testify, and there were some strange omissions, and some very important faces never showed up in the courtroom.

There was, of course the policeman JOHN PARKER who had been supposed to guard LINCOLN's box door and had gone down into the front row of the dress circle to enjoy the play. He was never called upon to testify at all, why he left his post? [REF: #5. pg202]

Two men who had plenty to say did not testify because they successfully held their tongues and their stories were undiscovered during the trial. 1st was JOHN MATTHEWS, actor friend of BOOTH's waited two years to speak out. MATTHEWS on the afternoon before the assassination met with BOOTH, who handed his letter explaining what he was about to do and why. BOOTH wanted MATTHEWS to mail it to the editor of the Washington Daily Intelligence the following morning. After the assassination, with the knowledge that BOOTH was the murderer, MATTHEWS ran to his boarding house, opened and memorized the letter, and then burned it. [REF: #5. pg203]

2nd was THOMAS J. JONES, a Confederate sympathizer, who had something worse to hide, did not speak out for over 20 years, until 188[REF: #5. He was first arrested, but was released for lack of evidence. Later he admitted hiding BOOTH and HEROLD in the thicket south of Port Tobacco, near the Potomac River, for six days and feeding them. [REF: #5. pg203]

Finally as June came to an end, the trial was completed. Out of the endless sheafs of testimony, the obvious evidence, the charges, denials, insinuations, the lies, the truth, the half- lies, the half-truths, the loaded statements, the Government inspired prejudice, out of the heat of the courtroom, the sight of the involuntarily silent accused persons and the valiant appeals of their lawyers, out of the still fresh memory of the murder of President LINCOLN, out of War's end and the temper of the country split, brother against brother, and finally out of the souls of nine Military men, had to come a decision. [REF: #5. pg203]

End of Chapter 4

The Conspirators Index
b. d.
John W.
John W.
Pursuit, Death & Burial
Trial of the Assassins
Samuel B.
George T.
Samuel A.
Lewis T.
Edward "Ned"
Mary E. (Jenkins)
Mary E. (Jenkins)
Genealogy FGS
John H., Jr.
John H., Jr.
1870 Lecture
John H., Jr.
Genealogy FGS
End of Nightmare for the Doomed!
Notes & Reference

E-Mail: Paul R. Sarrett, Jr., Auburn CA.

Text - Copyright © 1996-2000 Paul R. Sarrett, Jr.
Created: Dec. 01, 1996; Revised: Feb. 25, 2000