Chasing Lincoln’s Killer


James L. Swanson

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Chasing Lincoln’s Killer Characters

Abraham Lincoln

The president of the United States who had led the Union forces throughout the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was a loving husband, a strong leader, and a gifted public speaker. At the start to his… read analysis of Abraham Lincoln

John Wilkes Booth

One of America’s most famous and celebrated actors, John Wilkes Booth was a handsome, fashionable, well-mannered, and well-dressed man about town. He could win people over easily with his charm and good looks. He was… read analysis of John Wilkes Booth

David Herold

One of John Wilkes Booth’s most loyal co-conspirators, David Herold was knowledgeable about both the geography of Washington and of the surrounding countryside. He also had better skills as an outdoorsman than Booth, and… read analysis of David Herold

Lewis Powell

A physically imposing and loyal co-conspirator of Booth’s, Powell was tasked with killing Secretary of State Seward. He gained entry to the Seward mansion by claiming to be a messenger from the injured… read analysis of Lewis Powell

George Atzerodt

A German immigrant, Atzerodt was involved in Booth’s 1864 plot to kidnap Lincoln. On April 14, 1865, when Booth charged him with assassinating Vice President Andrew Johnson, Atzerodt refused. Booth threatened to… read analysis of George Atzerodt
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Secretary of State William H. Seward

An important member of Lincoln’s cabinet, Seward had been seriously injured in a carriage accident a week before April 14. While recuperating he was visited by President Lincoln and by Secretary of Warread analysis of Secretary of State William H. Seward

John Harrison Surratt

A friend of Booth’s from the plot to kidnap Lincoln, John Surratt was suspected of having attacked Secretary of State Seward. Although he was out of Washington on April 14th, he fled… read analysis of John Harrison Surratt

Dr. Samuel A. Mudd

One of Booth’s co-conspirators in the failed plot to kidnap Lincoln, his house was the first place where Booth and Herold rode. Once there, he treated Booth’s injury. Although he did not know… read analysis of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd

Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton

The tough and practical Secretary of War, Stanton had a great organizational mind and was responsible for whipping the Union Army into shape. On the night that Lincoln was shot, Stanton took charge of the… read analysis of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton

Colonel Lafayette Baker

Stanton’s trusted second-hand, Colonel Lafayette Baker came down from New York to assist with the investigation into the president’s assassination. He rubbed many other manhunters the wrong way with his egotistical and sneaky behavior… read analysis of Colonel Lafayette Baker

Thomas Jones

An experienced Confederate spy with a deep knowledge of the terrain and waterways of rural Maryland, Thomas Jones had lost most of his money for the Confederate cause and served time in a Union jail… read analysis of Thomas Jones

Dr. Charles A. Leale

A twenty-three-year-old Union Army soldier and doctor, Leale attended the play at Ford’s after hearing that General Grant would attend. He was the first doctor to reach Lincoln after the president was shot. He at… read analysis of Dr. Charles A. Leale

Colonel Everton Conger

A commander, along with Luther Byron Baker and Edward P. Doherty, of the forces which eventually discovered Booth and Herold. He ordered the tobacco barn burned to force Booth to come out, and… read analysis of Colonel Everton Conger

Fanny Seward

Secretary of State William Seward’s daughter and favorite child, Fanny Seward was an intelligent and sensitive young woman of twenty. She kept a detailed diary of all she saw in wartime Washington. On the… read analysis of Fanny Seward

William Bell

A black servant of the Seward family, Bell answered the door on the night when Lewis Powell attacked Secretary Seward. Once the attack was underway, he ran into the street, screaming for help. During… read analysis of William Bell

Willie Jett

A Confederate soldier and friend of Ruggles and Bainbridge, Willie Jett accompanied Booth and Herold across the Rappahannock River. Willie Jett was courting a girl whose father owned a hotel in Bowling Green, and… read analysis of Willie Jett

Richard Garrett

The owner of a farm in Virginia, Richard Garrett initially welcomed Booth and Herold into his family’s home, but later grew suspicious of their behavior. Still, when the manhunters arrived at his farm, he did… read analysis of Richard Garrett

John Garrett

Richard Garrett’s son, John Garrett was left in charge of the farm on the night that manhunters tracked Booth and Herold to his farm. He suspected that Booth and Herold might try to steal… read analysis of John Garrett

Sergeant Boston Corbett

A noncommissioned officer in the party of manhunters that ultimately found the fugitives, Boston Corbett shot and fatally wounded John Wilkes Booth. He was chastised for doing so by his commanders, but said that… read analysis of Sergeant Boston Corbett

Vice President Andrew Johnson

The vice president to Lincoln. Wilke's plan called for George Atzerodt to assassinate him, but Atzerodt could not work up the courage to act and Johnson survived. He became president upon Lincoln's death. Though… read analysis of Vice President Andrew Johnson
Minor Characters
Mary Surratt
The owner of two boardinghouses, Mary Surratt was a Confederate sympathizer who provided material support to Booth on the day of the killing. She lied to investigators about what she knew and was eventually executed for her involvement in the assassination.
Frederick Seward
The son of Secretary of State Seward, Frederick was the first family member to try to stop Powell’s attack. Powell nearly shot him but his gun misfired. Instead Powell savagely bludgeoned Frederick with the pistol, crushing his skull.
Augustus Seward
The son of Secretary of State Seward, Augustus was awoken by the sounds of fighting. He entered his father’s room and wrestled with Powell along with Sergeant Robinson. He was stabbed in the fight with Powell, who told him that he was mad.
Sergeant Robinson
A wounded Union veteran, Sergeant Robinson was serving as a nurse for Seward on the night of Powell’s attack. Although Powell stabbed him multiple times to the bone, Robinson continued fighting, doing everything in his power to protect the Secretary of State.
Sam Arnold
A conspirator in Booth’s failed 1864 plot to kidnap Lincoln, Arnold had nothing to do with the presidential assassination but was implicated in a letter found in Booth’s room. He was arrested and sentenced to prison.
Edman Spangler
An employee at Ford’s Theatre, Spangler briefly held Booth’s horse in the alley outside the theater. He was suspected of having aided the actor and arrested, but later freed when no evidence of his guilt emerged.
George Mudd
Samuel Mudd’s cousin and a loyal Unionist, George Mudd made a vague report to the authorities about strangers who had visited Samuel’s farm. Samuel hoped in this way to keep the authorities from discovering the true extent of his involvement with Booth and Herold.
William Rollins
A farmer and fisherman in Port Conway, Rollins ferried Booth, Herold, Willie Jett, Ruggles, and Bainbridge across the Rappahannock River. He was not aware that he was transporting fugitives and confessed all he knew to investigators, giving them an important tip on where to search for Booth and Herold.
A Confederate soldier and friend of Willie Jett’s, Ruggles accompanied Booth on Willie Rollins’s boat across the Rappahannock River. He also rode to the Garrett farm to warn Booth and Herold that cavalry had arrived in nearby Bowling Green.
A Confederate soldier and friend of Willie Jett’s, Bainbridge accompanied Booth on Willie Rollins’ boat across the Rappahannock River. He also rode to the Garrett farm to warn Booth and Herold that cavalry had arrived in nearby Bowling Green.
Mary Todd Lincoln
The First Lady, Abraham Lincoln’s wife Mary Todd was a sensitive woman, often criticized in the press. She had struggled to recover from her grief after the death of her son Willie in 1862.
Robert Todd Lincoln
The Lincolns’ eldest son, Robert had been present at General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, which he described to his father on the day the president would be shot. He delivered the news to his mother that his father had passed away.
Willie Lincoln
The Lincolns’ son who died in 1862 at the age of eleven. Mary Todd Lincoln struggled to get over his death, while Abraham Lincoln buried his sorrow in work.
Thomas "Tad" Lincoln
The Lincolns’ younger son, Tad stood by his father and lit Lincoln’s face with a light on the night that the president announced voting rights for emancipated blacks.
Major Henry Rathbone
A friend of the Lincolns, Rathbone was in the presidential box at Ford’s Theatre when John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln. He tried to halt Booth and received severe stab wounds in his shoulder.
Clara Harris
The fiancée to Major Henry Rathbone, Clara Harris was also watching the play at Ford’s in the presidential booth during the assassination.
Harry Hawk
The lead actor in the play at Ford’s Theatre, Booth timed his shot for the moment when Hawk would deliver a comedic line that elicited laughter from the audience.
Laura Keane
An actress in the play at Ford’s Theatre, Keane mounted to the presidential box and asked Dr. Leale’s permission to cradle the mortally wounded Lincoln’s head in her lap. She later gave away pieces of her blood soaked dress asmementos.
John Peanut
An employee at Ford’s Theatre, Peanut held Booth’s horse for him briefly on the night of the assassination.
Joseph Stewart
The only person in Ford’s Theatre to try to chase Booth as he escaped.
Sergeant Silas T. Cobb
Charged with enforcing a 9 PM curfew at the bridge out of the city, Cobb nonetheless allowed both Booth and Herold to cross the bridge into Maryland.
Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles
An important part of president’s cabinet, Welles initially suspected that the Confederate authorities were responsible for the attacks of April 14, 1865. He rode with Stanton to the Petersen house that night, pushing through the crazed mob to reach the dying president.
Mary Jane Welles
A close friend of Mrs. Lincoln’s, Mary Jane Welles had nursed Willie Lincoln before his death and then comforted Mrs. Lincoln on her child’s loss. She then lost her own young son to illness the same year, bringing the two women even closer as friends.
Reverend Dr. Phineas T. Gurley
The Lincolns’ family pastor, Gurley came to Lincoln’s deathbed and said a prayer after the president passed away.
Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes
The Lincolns’ family physician and the chief doctor of the United States, Barnes arrived at Lincoln’s bedside in the Petersen house. There was little he could do to help the president but monitor the signs of Lincoln’s approaching death.
Army Major General Halleck
Halleck was in charge of imprisoning captured conspirators.
Jefferson Davis
The Confederate President, Jefferson Davis was on the run from manhunters at the time when Lincoln was shot. He was revered by Confederate sympathizers like Mary Surratt, who kept a picture of him in her house.
Hezekiah Metz
A friend of George Atzerodt’s.
Hartmann Richter
George Atzerodt’s cousin.
Anna Surratt
The daughter of Mary Surratt, Anna Surratt was also interrogated and arrested during the investigation.
Lewis Weichmann
A boarder at Mary Surratt’s boardinghouse, Lewis Weichmann accompanied Mrs. Surratt to Surrattsville to prepare John Lloyd for a nighttime visit from Booth. He was also arrested and interrogated during the investigation.
Michael O'Laughlen
A conspirator in Booth’s failed 1864 plot to kidnap Lincoln, O’Laughlen had nothing to do with the presidential assassination but was implicated in a letter found in Booth’s room. He was arrested and sentenced to prison.
Captain Samuel Cox
A farmer and loyal Confederate, Cox showed Booth and Herold the thicket where they could hide from cavalry and summoned Thomas Jones to give them further help. Booth was sent to Cox by Dr. Samuel Mudd.
Dr. Richard Stuart
A Virginia farmer who denied Booth and Herold hospitality. Booth later sent him payment for the meal he begrudgingly fed them, as an insult to Stuart for his failure to extend his home to them willingly.
A black man in Maryland who was forced to give Booth and Herold shelter. He then rented them a wagon driven by his son.
Charlie Lucas
The man who drove Booth and Herold from his father’s farm in a wagon.
Elizabeth Quesenberry
A Confederate agent in Virginia, Elizabeth Quesenberry helped Booth and Herold to find transportation deeper into the South. She was a contact of Thomas Jones’.
Lieutenant Edward P. Doherty
One of the commanders in the party of manhunters who found Booth and Herold at Garrett’s farm. He was awarded $5,250 for his role in locating the fugitives.
Luther Byron Baker
The cousin of Colonel Lafayette Baker and one of the commanders in the final party of manhunters who found Booth and Herold. He received $3,000 in reward money.
Lieutenant David Dana
The head of the 13th New York Cavalry, which pursued Booth and Herold without success throughout Maryland.
General Robert E. Lee
A defeated Confederate General and leader of the Army of Northern Virginia.
General Ulysses S. Grant
A victorious and respected Union general, Grant was invited to go with the Lincolns to Ford’s Theatre on the night of the assassination. He would become President of the United States in 1869, after Andrew Johnson.
Edward P. Doherty
One of the manhunters searching for Booth.
Colonel Wells
An interogator working to identify Lincoln's killer after Lincoln was assassinated.
Elizabeth Keckley
A free black woman and Mrs. Lincoln's dressmaker, she attended the performance at which Lincoln was shot.