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Blood on the Moon

The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln

Edward Steers

Publication Year: 2001

Winner of the 2001 The Lincoln Group of New York's Award of Achievement A History Book Club Selection The assassination of Abraham Lincoln is usually told as a tale of a lone deranged actor who struck from a twisted lust for revenge. This is not only too simple an explanation; Blood on the Moon reveals that it is completely wrong. John Wilkes Booth was neither mad nor alone in his act of murder. He received the help of many, not the least of whom was Dr. Samuel Alexander Mudd, the Charles County physician who has been portrayed as the innocent victim of a vengeful government. Booth was also aided by the Confederate leadership in Richmond. As he made his plans to strike at Lincoln, Booth was in contact with key members of the Confederate underground, and after the assassination these same forces used all of their resources to attempt his escape. Noted Lincoln authority Edward Steers Jr. introduces the cast of characters in this ill-fated drama, he explores why they were so willing to help pull the trigger, and corrects the many misconceptions surrounding this defining moment that changed American history. After completing an acclaimed career as a research scientist at the National Institutes of Health, Edward Steers Jr. has turned his research skills to the Lincoln assassination. He is the author of several books about the president, including The Trial. He lives in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. xi-xvi

In 1997 the Surratt Society, in Clinton, Maryland, published the Abraham Lincoln Assassination Bibliography by Blaine V. Houmes. The bibliography was the first of its kind devoted exclusively to Lincoln's assassination. Listed are approximately 3,000 entries representing 2,900 journal, magazine, newspaper, and newsletter articles and 100 monographs. This number represents...

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pp. 1-8

Abraham Lincoln has become the subject of more writings than any other person in American history. At last estimate, there were approximately 16,000 entries in a bibliography of works on him that Frank J. Williams is compiling.' To be sure, a majority of these entries appear as pamphlets or journal articles, but the total number of monographs still ranks Lincoln among the ...

Part One: A Divided House

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Chapter 1: The Apotheosis

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pp. 11-15

The voice came over the loudspeaker announcing that the next talk on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln would begin in two minutes. Like ants drawn to sugar, the crowd of tourists began streaming toward the orchestra section of the theater from many directions. Some had been looking at the special box where the president sat that fateful night. Others were down- ...

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Chapter 2: You Are in Danger

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pp. 16-26

The sadness over Lincoln's death, like his election in 1860, was sectional. Not everyone agreed with Beecher's and his fellow ministers' pious view of the dead president. To many in the South, Lincoln's death was nothing more than tyrannicide. "Hurrah! Old Abe Lincoln has been assassinated!" a South Carolina girl wrote in her diary on hearing the news.1 The editor ...

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Chapter 3: All the World's a Stage

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pp. 27-38

John Wilkes Booth was born to fame. His father's acclaim as the country's most famous tragedian covered the family like a shower of sparkling meteors. His mother was a beautiful woman who was devoted to her children. Johnny, next to the youngest of six surviving children, was clearly the favorite. Both parents lavished affection on the young boy, encouraging "self- ...

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Chapter 4: The Black Flag Is Raised

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pp. 39-59

One of Abraham Lincoln's great hopes for resolving the slavery crisis lay in his plan of compensated emancipation. Realizing that ending slavery by military force could come about only with great loss of life and national treasure, Lincoln wanted to shorten the war and accomplish emancipation by having the Federal government compensate slave owners by purchasing their "prop- ...

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Chapter 5: The South Wants Justice

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pp. 60-68

Nine years since he first began his rise to stardom on the American stage, John Wilkes Booth's acting career had reached its peak during the 1862-63 season, and now, in 1864, it appeared to be in jeopardy. The throat problems that developed during the winter of 1864 did not prevent him from continuing his acting; other matters were pushing it backstage. Practically speaking, ...

Part Two: The Deed

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Chapter 6: The Key Connection

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pp. 71-84

In mid-October Booth visited with his mother at Edwin's house in New York City. The relationship between the two brothers had become seriously strained over their political differences. In her memoir Asia quoted Wilkes, "If it were not for mother I would not enter Edwin's house, but she will leave there if we cannot be welcomed, and I do not want her to be unhappy for ...

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Chapter 7: A Shift in Plans

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pp. 85-91

Two days after the all-night meeting at Gautier's restaurant, Booth stopped by Ford's Theatre. His fame as a star performer produced a regular stream of mail from admirers. A portion of this mail was addressed to Booth, in care of Ford's Theatre. Booth had no permanent or "home" address simply because he had no permanent home. For all of his fame, his name cannot be found among any of the standard records of the period. Born in Maryland, he regularly listed himself as being from...

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Chapter 8: A Day of Jubilation

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pp. 92-105

William T. Howell had waited nearly five weeks for his official appointment as Indian agent for Michigan. Lincoln appointed Howell on March 10, and he was confirmed by the Senate one day later. It was now April 14, and the appointment languished somewhere in the president's office. Lincoln sat down at his desk and penned a message to his commissioner of Indian affairs, Wil- ...

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Chapter 9: Decision

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pp. 106-112

Abraham Lincoln was enamored with the performing arts. While a young man in New Salem, Illinois, he had been introduced to the plays of William Shakespeare by the village blacksmith, Jack Kelso.1 His fondness for Shakespeare became so great that he committed whole plays to memory, and like the literature of the Bible, they became a favorite source of material for his ...

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Chapter 10: Sic Semper Tyrannis

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pp. 113-118

Darkness had settled over the city cloaking its hidden recesses from prying eyes. The celebration of Lee's surrender was marked by brilliant illuminations of most of the government buildings. Even the brightest lanterns, however, could not reach the back alleys where the city's underclass roamed. It was Good Friday, a holy day reserved for the remembrance of man's sin against ...

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Chapter 11: The Wound Is Mortal

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pp. 119-134

The young officer told the ward master he would be absent for a few hours this evening. As army surgeon he was in charge of the commissioned officers' ward at the hospital at Armory Square in Washington. The demands of his duties gave him little time to enjoy the pleasures that were available in the wartime capital. Charles Leale had been an admirer of President Lincoln ...

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Chapter 12: Surrattsville

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pp. 135-143

As Stanton and Welles were making their way to Ford's Theatre, a horse and rider were seen racing hard across the capitol grounds in the direction of the Eastern Branch of the Potomac River.1 The exact route is not known, but within a few minutes the rider arrived at the Eleventh Street Bridge located next to the Washington Navy Yard in southeast Washington. The distance ...

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Chapter 13: Dr. Mudd

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pp. 144-154

By the time Booth and Herold left the Surratt tavern the moon was approaching its zenith, bathing the countryside in light. Heading south, the two men soon came to the village of T.B., where the road divides, one fork heading east to Horsehead, the other continuing south to Beantown. Either road would take them to their next destination, the home of Dr. Samuel ...

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Chapter 14:. Here in Despair

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pp. 155-165

Samuel Mudd stood beside the stable located in the rear of his house. The sun had finally set, covering the area in darkness. It was time for the two men to move on. Mounting their horses, Booth thanked Mudd for all his help. The two men wheeled their mounts and rode off to the southeast following a small farm road that led through the tobacco fields and ran near the edge of ...

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Chapter 15: The Roundup [Includes Image Plates]

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pp. 166-180

It was a little after 10:OO P.M. when George Atzerodt walked into the bar of the Kirkwood House and ordered a glass of whiskey. Not far from where he stood was the room of Andrew Johnson, the new vice president. Johnson had taken a room at the Kirkwood House until he could find a more suitable residence for himself and his family. Atzerodt denied later that he agreed to ...

Part Three: The End

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Chapter 16: Virginia at Last!

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pp. 183-190

Night sounds travel far over water. Whispers seem to glide through the air and strengthen as they slip across the surface. The two men sat in the small boat afraid to speak, uncertain what ears might be listening off in the darkness. The only sound was that of the water as it gently lapped against the sides of the boat. Booth sat hunched over in the stern peering into the black ...

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Chapter 17: The Cavalry Arrives

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pp. 191-200

U.S. highway 301 passes over the Rappahannock River not more than a hundred yards from where the old ferry ran between Port Conway and Port Royal. Vestiges of the original site remain as a boat ramp on the Port Royal side where local sportsmen can float their boats onto the gently meandering river. The village of Port Royal gives the modern-day traveler the...

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Chapter 18: Tell Mother I Die for My Country

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pp. 201-206

The cavalrymen waiting in front of the hotel were slumped in their saddles, half of them asleep. They had been riding for over twelve hours without rest. Cavalrymen knew how to sleep astride a horse. It was something they learned early in the war. Their brief respite was suddenly broken when the three officers came out of the hotel with Willie Jett in tour. The four men mounted ...

Part Four: The Aftermath

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pp. 207-208

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Chapter 19: To Remove the Stain of Innocent Blood from the Land

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pp. 209-230

Beginning on April 17 and ending with the death of Booth and the capture of Davy Herold on April 26, nine of the ten individuals charged by the government with conspiracy in Lincoln's murder were in custody.1 Edman Spangler was the first. Following his arrest early on Monday, April 17, he was placed in the Old Capitol Prison located on the corner of A and First Streets, N.E. Arnold and O'Laughlen were next, also imprisoned...

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Chapter 20: The Aftermath: Rewriting History

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pp. 231-244

Some felt that Mary Surratt's trial was a ruse to force her son to give himself up and save his mother. John Surratt was the one the government really wanted, not his "pious mother."1 At the time of the trial, John Surratt's whereabouts were not known for sure. Witnesses placed him in Washington in front of Ford's Theatre on the night of April 14, but Surratt claimed he was ...

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Chapter 21: Life after Death

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pp. 245-267

The fire from the burning tobacco barn blazed throughout the early morning hours casting a red glow over the scene unfolding at the Garrett farmhouse. A column of grey smoke rose skyward sending a signal to everyone within a two-mile radius that something was happening. The hidden eyes that had watched Yankee horsemen riding from Port Royal didn't have to ...

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Chapter 22: Goodbye, Father Abraham

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pp. 268-294

The president was dead. He had been comatose for the past nine hours giving the impression of being in a deep sleep. The small bedroom of young Willie Clark had held an impressive assemblage of men. In all, fifty-seven individuals are believed to have visited the room during the early morning hours to view the dying president.1 Not all fifty-seven visited at the same ...


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pp. 295-334


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pp. 335-342


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pp. 343-361

E-ISBN-13: 9780813170824
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813122175

Page Count: 400
Publication Year: 2001