Lincoln’s Death, New Nation: April 1865 to 1877

Lincoln’s Assassination

How did Booth get out of Washington, D.C.?

During wartime, it would have been more difficult, but on April 14, Washington was a city in the midst of constant celebrations. The guards at all ends of the city were more relaxed than usual, and the one at the bridge leading to Maryland allowed Booth to pass through. Another of the conspirators passed a few minutes later.

Booth was in considerable pain. In his last note, clearly intended to be discovered, he wrote, “[I] rode sixty miles that night, with the bone of my leg tearing the flesh at every jump.” Even so, it was remarkable he made his escape, and the next day he went to the home of Dr. Samuel Mudd—whom he had met five months earlier—and asked to have the broken bone set. Dr. Mudd did not recognize Booth, who kept his face turned to the wall, and once the bone was set there was a real chance that the assassin would get free. He had to cross the Potomac, however.


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