Why Was Lincoln Murdered?

By Otto Eisenschiml | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XIV Death Visits Garrett's Farm

WHEN Lieutenant Doherty's detachment of twenty-five men under the leadership of ex-Lieutenant ColonelConger and ex- LieutenantBaker surrounded the tobacco shed at Garrett's farm shortly after midnight on April 26, they found it occupied by two men. One of them proved to be Herold; about the identity of the other the soldiers did not bother, for they had every reason to believe that he was Booth.

Young William Garrett, a paroled Confederate cavalryman, was sent into the barn to obtain the weapons of the besieged men, but in this mission he was unsuccessful. After a short parley, during which one of the men inside proposed to shoot it out with Doherty's troopers, Herold surrendered, and shortly afterward the shed was set on fire. The other man, now plainly visible through the cracks in the wooden structure, started to move toward the door; at this moment there was a shot and he fell to the ground. A bullet had entered his neck on the right side and paralyzed his spinal cord. He died on the porch of the Garrett house just as the sun rose on the twenty-seventh of April.

This, in bare outline, is what happened at Garrett's farm that night. It leaves at least two questions unanswered: First -- who shot the man in the barn? Second -- why was he not taken alive?

Tradition has it that the killing was done by Boston Corbett, a somewhat eccentric sergeant who claimed that Providence had directed him to do it. At any rate, this is what he told Colonel Conger at the time. When under oath in the conspiracy trial, he contented himself by making the less dramatic statement that, "one of the men, who was watching him [ Booth], told me that he

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