HAD there been no Garrett's, no flame in the night, no mooted bullet, no guarded burial, yet a survival tale of some kind there doubtless would have been, since Booth returned to Washington City as a bedraggled corpse fetched by silent men out of the darkness that hid the long reaches of the Potomac.
In the New York Times of January 12th, 1867, a letter from James E. Campbell gave some color to the rumor that it was not Booth's corpse that was brought up the Potomac in the night. In a Calcutta hotel, six months before, Campbell (so he wrote) had heard a Bostonian arguing with a Southerner, who declared: "I will lay a wager of five hundred pounds that John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated President Lincoln, is alive and in good health at the present time; and agree to furnish proof of it within six months." Campbell was informed that the Southerner was Lieut. William Martin Tolbert of the Shenandoah, a Confederate privateer which had ranged the South Pacific.1
Campbell's narrative was reprinted in other American journals. Tolbert, it was said, had learned that Booth was in hiding in Ceylon. Apparently no effort was made to verify the story.2 No Tolbert is in the "Register of Officers of the Confederate States Navy"; nor in the full descriptive list of the Shenandoah's officers, sent from England to the American press.3____________________