Tuesday, April 14, 2015

John Wilkes Booth Escape Route Map Available from Ball State University Libraries

John Wilkes Booth Escape Map Marks 150th Anniversary of Lincoln Assassination

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865.  The Ball State University Libraries’ GIS Research and Map Collection (GRMC) includes many maps depicting the events surrounding the Civil War, including a map of the assassin’s escape route from the Capital.

The map, John Wilkes Booth: Escape of an Assassin, was published by Communication Design in 2007 as part of the Maryland Civil War Trails series.  The map shows the route taken from Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. to the Garrett farm in Virginia with related present-day points of interest.

According to the map, “Booth fled over the Navy Yard Bridge into Southern Maryland. With fellow conspirator David Herold, he stopped about midnight at widow Mary E. Surratt’s tavern in the village of Surrattsville.”  Surratt was later convicted as a conspirator in the plot against the President and provided storage of rifles and other supplies for Booth.

The fugitives received treatment at the house of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd (now a museum), who was also later convicted in the conspiracy.  The pair traveled to the home of Samuel Cox in Rich Hill and hid in a nearby pine thicket.  Booth and Herold crossed the Potomac River on April 21 and then the Rappahanock River in Virginia, where they found shelter at the Richard Garrett farm. 

Federal troops found the fugitives hiding in the barn on April 26:  Herold surrendered, but Booth refused.  “…the barn was set on fire. The soldiers could see Booth through the slats in the barn, and Sergeant Boston Corbett shot him in the back of the neck.”

The map also includes sites related to the Civil War near Chesapeake Bay.  Descriptions of specific sites, events, and biographies include Point Lookout State Park, the contributions of African Americans, female spies and smugglers, and the role federal troops kept Maryland in the Union.

Other maps in the GRMC from the Maryland Civil War Trails series include Baltimore: A House Divided; Gettysburg: Invasion and Retreat; Lee Invades Maryland: 1862 Antietam Campaign; and Virginia-Maryland Civil War Trails.

Maps from the GRMC circulate for two weeks or longer.  For more information, please contact the GRMC at 765-285-1097.

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