Boston Corbett’s Trip to the Hospital

Boston Corbett was a hero in the early morning hours of April 26th, 1865.  He brought Abraham Lincoln’s killer to justice by fatally shooting John Wilkes Booth through the neck at the Garretts’ barn. Though some would have preferred the assassin had been taken alive and put on trial, America was satisfied by the swift justice discharged through Corbett’s gun. Prior to his run in with history, Corbett was also a godsend to many of the poor Union soldiers imprisoned at Andersonville prison camp. A devout Christian, Corbett’s preaching of the Bible was his attempt to bring hope into an increasingly hopeless situation.

Boston Corbett CDV1

In addition to these personality traits however, Boston Corbett was also, shall we say, eccentric. Later in life his eccentricities would cause him to be admitted into an insane asylum. From here he would make his escape and disappear mysteriously, his fate known only to God.

It is one of Boston Corbett’s early eccentric activities that is the material for this post. Those of you familiar with the assassination story already know what surgical operation Boston Corbett performed on himself.  For those of you unaware of his actions, I will attempt to delicately explain. In his attempt to remove himself from all physical temptation, Corbett performed an act on himself that we typically reserve to animals like cats and dogs to prohibit their breeding.   For those of you who can overcome your squeamishness (and yes I’m mainly talking to the men here) what follows after the jump is the original hospital report and a transcription of Boston Corbett’s time in the hospital.

Boston Corbett’s medical record

Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA

July 16 to August 15, 1858:

Corbett's Hospital Record

Corbett's Hospital Transcript

I only have one more thing to add…Ouch!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | 15 Comments

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15 thoughts on “Boston Corbett’s Trip to the Hospital

  1. Ouch indeed!

    I wanted to be a veterinarian as a young girl as I have always loved animals. At the age of sixteen, and against my parent’s wishes, I watched as the veterinarian gelded my 2 year old colt, Ringo. Absolutely horrific! Horses and livestock are NOT given anything but a local anesthetic. A twitch is tied around the horse’s upper lip to immobilize him and a large device somewhat not akin to a pair of hedge clippers was used. Needless to say, I then and there decided NOT to become a veterinarian. I also get sick at the sight of blood….

    Boston Corbett was quite the character! Eccentric is certainly a good word used to describe him – a very interesting man….

    Never seen this before, Dave! Thanks a bunch – you are quite the researcher!

    • Gene C

      Thanks godeygirl for those inspiring comments. I was going to do some light reading before I went to sleep. Looks like I’ll be awake for a few hours more. Hedgclippers? Oouucchh

  2. Craig Hipkins

    Good post Dave. I believe that the only other place where I have seen Corbett’s hospital record is in Dr. Lattimer’s book. I always wondered if Corbett’s voice changed after this procedure! I. Et he talked with a sort of squeamish squeal!

    • I wish I would’ve known about Dr. Latimer’s book earlier, Craig. It certainly would have saved me the trouble of deciphering the messy, jargon filled handwriting. But oh well.

      I got the document from here:
      I’m sure there’s other stuff in this folder that will interest you.


      • Eva S

        Dave I’m new to your site and really enjoying all the Boothisms etc. I’m interested in the notes from Hospital journal on the 21st. Even today a “C” with the line over it often is medical shorthand for “with” so I wonder if it means Dress With ….wrap…something? Kudos to you for deciphering this to the extent you did. Very unusual piece of history!

        • Eva,

          Thanks for the information regarding the meaning behind a c with a line over it. I, unfortunately, made my transcription of this page into an image and so I’m unable to change it based on your recommendations. Hopefully interested parties will peruse the comments and see the correction.

  3. Jim Garrett

    Very well handled. Thomas “Boston” Corbett is one of the most colrful characters in the story.

  4. Herb Swingle

    Well Done! This brings a whole new meaning of”B—s to the wall”! Was he proved to be insane or “Just Plain Strange”?

  5. Donna Peterson

    Thank you for the interesting article Dave, and especially because you enlarged it so I wouldn’t have to squint to read it ( it’s hard getting old )

    • You are quite welcome, Donna. You can click on the original record and it will open up bigger, but reading it is very challenging. It took me quite a while to transcribe the thing. The handwriting is poor, as you would expect from a doctor, and the medical words took me a few tries to understand. I’m still not sure about the abbreviations but luckily the important material is decipherable.

  6. Eleanor Ford

    Because of this guy, we will never know who he shot.

  7. dennyyeary

    strange personality…not sure he was devout or a fanatic…must have not been concerned with pain or infection…but in his mind it was the right thing to do…do we know anything about his upbringing or family history? could shed light on his mental reasoning…

  8. Pingback: The Boston Corbett Supper Club | BoothieBarn

  9. Pingback: Honor, God, and Reward Money: A New Boston Corbett Letter | BoothieBarn

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