Samuel Cox of Charles County

Recently, I’ve been working on an article for the Surratt Courier about the history of Rich Hill.  Rich Hill was the home of Col. Samuel Cox and is located in modern day Bel Alton, Charles County, Maryland.  After leaving Dr. Mudd’s house on the evening of April 15th, 1865 and getting partially lost, John Wilkes Booth and David Herold commissioned the help of a local Charles County man named Oswell Swann to guide them to Rich Hill.  Col. Cox was a known Confederate sympathizer, and Booth and Herold knew they could rely on him for help.  The arrived at Rich Hill in the early morning of April 16th, and woke the house.  Cox listened to the men and their request for help but was unwilling to let them stay in his house for long.  He had his overseer guide the fugitives into a nearby pine thicket and sent his adopted son, Samuel Cox, Jr., to fetch Thomas Jones.  Jones cared for the men for the next five days before helping them cross the Potomac.


In my article for the Courier, I have been recounting the history of the Rich Hill property and house.  While I have shared some interesting anecdotes about the house’s past owners, space precludes me from delving too much into their biographies.

When it comes to the history of Samuel Cox, the source I have been referencing the most is an article written by Norma L. Hurley in the October 1991 edition of The RecordThe Record is the newsletter of the Charles County Historical Society, a wonderful organization devoted to the preservation of history.  Ms. Hurley’s article about Samuel Cox is the best resource out there about this intriguing character in the Lincoln assassination story.

Samuel Cox

Samuel Cox

Click Here to read the excellent article, Samuel Cox of Charles County by Norma L. Hurley.

Also, keep your eyes peeled on the next few Surratt Couriers for my upcoming article about Rich Hill. As a sneak peek, here’s a floor plan I created to show what the interior of the house looks like today:

Rich Hill Floorplan 2013

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4 thoughts on “Samuel Cox of Charles County

  1. Hey there. Great article by Norma Hurley! In the article it states that Samuel Cox Jr. has written a letter containing an “accounting of events on April 16th and thereafter”. Where might one find that letter? Thanks for all you do. -Tony

    • Tony,
      Here is the letter from Samuel Cox, Jr. that you were asking about.

      • araymond33

        This is great. Thank you! If believing Cox Jr.’s words I wonder, what would incite or motivate Oswald Swann to lie about what he saw that night? Unless perhaps, he too heard rumors of Captain Cox’s treatment of slaves, namely the Jack Scroggrins story, and maybe had a vendetta to fulfill. For myself, it’s difficult to believe they were only there for fifteen minutes. And if they were there for four hours, what would compel Cox Jr. to continue to withhold what actually happened? I suppose we will never know what truly took place that evening. But like many discussions (I.e. the broken leg), we can assume both accounts are possible and/or probable.

  2. chiefden34gmailcom

    I also do not think they were at the Cox residence for 15 minutes. That just does not make sense. After being woke in the middle of the night and revealing they were sent there, curiosity surely would have led to some questioning of Booth and Herold. The truth, as usual, probably lies somewhere in between.

    Another point. No one ever seems to question what happened to the tack. Two horses with full tack and saddle blankets was valuable. It’s hard to dismiss this as sinking into the swamp. I prefer the theory that the horses lived out their days at some farm in the vicinity, perhaps in the Newport area. Once Booth and Herold were gone, I doubt the soldiers would have been scouring farms looking for the horses.

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