Why Was Lincoln Murdered?

By Otto Eisenschiml | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII The End of the Trail

THE hunt for Booth and his accomplice was, according to all reports, conducted with a zeal unsurpassed in the annals of crime. The swamps of Maryland had never witnessed such scenes as were described by George Alfred Townsend in the New York World:

Here the soldiers prepared to seek for the President's assassin, and no search of the kind has ever been so thorough and patient. . . .

The military forces deputed to pursue the fugitives were seven hundred men of the Eighth Illinois Cavalry, six hundred men of the Twenty-second Colored Troops, and one hundred men of the Sixteenth New York. These swept the swamps by detachments, the mass of them dismounted, with cavalry at the belts of clearings, interspersed with detectives at frequent intervals in the rear. They first formed a strong picket cordon entirely around the swamps, and then, drawn up in two orders of battle, advanced boldly into the bog by two lines of march. One party swept the swamps longitudinally, the other pushed straight across their smallest diameter.1

Dr. Abner Hard, writing the history of the Eighth Illinois cavalry regiment, was also much impressed with the measures taken and the manner in which they were carried out.

". . . the country [was] so thoroughly picketed and searched," said he, "that a rabbit could have hardly made his escape through our lines without being discovered . . . [the pursuers] leaving no nook or corner in which the assassin could be secreted."2

____________________
1
Baker, op. cit., pp. 492, 493
2
Abner Hard, History of the Eighth Cavalry Regiment, Illinois Volunteers During the Great Rebellion ( Aurora, Illinois, 1868), pp. 320-21

-130-

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