Jett, Ruggles, and Bainbridge

A few days ago, commenter Kees van den Berg posed the following question:

“I wonder, what happened with Jett, Ruggles and Bainbridge? I suppose they were arrested and confined in the Old Capitol Prison in Washington. Is it true that they never were tried, but came free after a couple of weeks after taking the oath of allegiance to the US? Have you dates of confinement and release? Thank you beforehand.”

His question refers to Willie Storke Jett, Mortimer Bainbridge Ruggles, and Absalom Ruggles Bainbridge. Ruggles and Bainbridge were cousins which explains the last names as middle names coincidence.  These three men were Confederate soldiers who ran into John Wilkes Booth and David E. Herold during their escape.

About midday on April 24th, the fugitives were at Port Conway, VA on the banks of the Rappahannock River. They were waiting for the ferry to come so they could get to Port Royal on the other side. As they waited, Jett, Ruggles, and Bainbridge came riding up.  The three men were heading towards Richmond, ultimately to get their paroles. At first, Herold lied to the men and told them that he and his wounded brother were also Confederate veterans. Thinking the three soldiers were on their way south to meet up with others in order to continue the fight, Herold pulled Jett aside and asked him if they could join them. Surprised by Herold’s desperation, especially when he and his comrades had accepted the defeat of their cause, Jett asked Herold straight away who they really were. Herold replied back, “We are the assassinators of the President”.

After more conversation, Jett, Ruggles, and Bainbridge agreed to help the men. The five men and their three horses crossed the Rappahannock on the ferry guided by ferryman Jim Thornton. When they arrived at Port Royal, Jett searched out a place for Booth to stay. He came to the home of Sarah Jane Peyton, who agreed, sight unseen, to care for a wounded solider.

The home of Sarah Jane Peyton in Port Royal, VA

The home of Sarah Jane Peyton in Port Royal, VA

When Booth hobbled into her parlor, however, her hospitality changed. She no longer thought it proper for her to entertain a guest while her brother, the man of the house, was absent. She suggested to Jett that he might find better lodging for the wounded man a couple of miles down the road, at the farm of Richard Garrett. The three men rode to the Garrett place, with Booth and Herold sharing horses with Ruggles and Bainbridge, respectively. When they arrived at the Garrett farm, Bainbridge and Herold stayed by the outer gate as Jett, Booth and Ruggles approached the house. The Garretts agreed to care for Booth, whom Jett said was a wounded soldier named Boyd, until Jett’s return in a couple of days. Jett, Ruggles, Bainbridge, and Herold rode further south. They stopped at the Trappe, a house of entertainment, before separating for the evening. Jett and Ruggles went to the Star Hotel in Bowling Green. Jett was courting Izora Gouldman, the hotel-keeper’s daughter.  Bainbridge and Herold traveled to the home of Virginia Clarke. Coincidentally, both Bainbridge and Herold knew Virginia’s son James and were welcomed into her home for the night.

The next day, Bainbridge and Herold met back up with Ruggles, likely in Bowling Green. The three men rode back to the Garrett house where Booth had comfortably spent the night in an upstairs bedroom. Bainbridge and Ruggles dropped Herold off and then continued on to Port Royal. When they arrived, they found a troop of Union cavalry crossing the ferry from Port Conway to Port Royal. They turned around and put spurs to their horses. They rushed back to Booth and Herold at the Garrett farm long enough to tell them of the approaching troops, then they continued quickly south.

The rest is well-known. The Union troops learned from one of the residents of Port Conway that Willie Jett was among the men who crossed with John Wilkes Booth. What’s more, they learned of Jett’s affinity for Izora Gouldman. Unknowingly, the troops rode right past the Garret farm where Booth was hiding on their way to Bowling Green. They captured Jett at the Star Hotel and he agreed to take them to the Garrett farm. When the troops arrived, they kept Jett under guard near the gate of the farm while the rest surrounded the house and barn. Eventually Herold surrendered himself and the barn was lit on fire to smoke Booth out. Boston Corbett fired at Booth inside of the burning barn, paralyzing him. Booth was dragged from the barn, first placed under a tree and then on to the front porch of the house.  He died around dawn on April 26th.


During the lengthy crossing of the soldiers on their way back across the Rappahannock after killing Booth, Detective Luther Baker took possession of Booth’s body and the prisoner Jett. With two other soldiers, Baker departed Port Conway ahead of the rest of the troops. At some point during their travel to Belle Plain, where a steamboat would take them up to Washington, Baker let Willie Jett go. Jett had led the soldiers right to the assassin without a fight, and Baker did not believe there was any need to detain him further. When Baker got back to Washington, he was severely berated by Edwin Stanton for releasing Jett without authorization. An arrest order for Jett was quickly sent out:

An arrest order for Willie Jett dated April 28th.

An arrest order for Willie Jett dated April 28th.

Jett was re-arrested in Westmoreland County, VA on May 1st. He was transferred to Washington and imprisoned at the Old Capitol Prison with the other Lincoln assassination related suspects. On May 6th, he gave a lengthy statement to the authorities about his interaction with Booth, ending it with the assurance, “I have tried to evade nothing. From the beginning I have told everything.”  Jett was also called to testify at the trial of the conspirators, giving his testimony on May 17th.  Willie Jett was imprisoned for a month and was released on May 31st when he took an oath of allegiance at the Old Capitol Prison:

Willie Jett's Oath of Allegiance NARA

Though Jett had been a major player in the escape of John Wilkes Booth, he was not tried as a conspirator since he had never met Booth prior to April 24th and Jett had also assisted in Booth’s capture.  The government was only concerned with prosecuting those they believed had real knowledge of the conspiracy before it was carried out.  Jett did not fit this criteria.

In January of 1890, an account written by Lieutenant Ruggles was published in The Century Magazine. Not all of the details in Ruggles’ recollections almost 25 years after the fact are correct, but he does give this account of what happened to him and Bainbridge:

“Learning that Jett was a prisoner, and that we were to be arrested, tried, and hanged, as aiders and abetters, Bainbridge and myself stood not on the order of going, but went at once. Making our way into Essex County and crossing to Westmoreland, we went to our home up in King George County. Some ten days after, I was arrested at night by a squad of United States cavalry. Bainbridge was also captured. We were taken to Washington and placed in the Old Capitol Prison. We were not alone in our misery, however, for Dr. Stewart, at whose house Booth had stopped, William Lucas, the negro who had driven him to the ferry, and a number of others, were there, among them being Jett, who had escaped from Captain Doherty, and had been recaptured at his home in Westmoreland County.”

Lieutenant Ruggles was arrested in King George County either on May 2nd or May 3rd (both dates are given on two different records).  Private Bainbridge was arrested in King George County on May 4th or 5th (again two different dates on two different records).  They were both transported to the Old Capitol Prison and were incarcerated there starting on May 5th.  For some unknown reason (Ruggles thought it was by mistake), the two men were transferred out of the Old Capitol and sent all the way to Johnson’s Island, a prisoner of war camp for Confederate prisoners located near Sandusky, Ohio.  They left the Old Capitol Prison on May 11th and arrived at Johnson’s Island on the 13th.

Johnson's Island 1865 LOC

It didn’t take very long for those in charge at Johnson’s Island to determine that these two men were much more than your average prisoners of war.  It certainly looks like their transfer to Johnson’s Island was a mistake because, on May 15th, Ruggles and Bainbridge were being transferred back to D.C.  They arrived at the Old Capitol Prison on May 17th and this time they stayed there.

Neither Ruggles or Bainbridge were ever called to testify at the trial of the conspirators.  On June 3rd, both men were released from their confinement after taking the oath of allegiance:

Mortimer Ruggles Oath of Allegiance NARA

Absalom Bainbridge Oath of Allegiance NARA

Willie Jett never ended up marrying Izora Gouldman of the Star Hotel.  Instead he moved to Baltimore, married, went insane (possibly because of untreated syphilis), and died in an insane asylum in Virginia.  His body is buried in Fredericksburg.

Willie Jett's grave

After the war, Mortimer Bainbridge Ruggles and Absalom Ruggles Bainbridge continued to imitate each other.  Both men married and had two children.  Both moved to New York.  Both found occupations that forced them to move around; Ruggles as a traveling salesman and Bainbridge as an interior decorator.  Finally, both men died not only in the same year, but in the same month.  These two Confederate veterans are buried in two different cemeteries in New York:

Mortimer Ruggles' grave

Grave of Absalom Ruggles Bainbridge


While Jett, Ruggles, and Bainbridge spent a bit more time imprisoned than some of the other suspects in Lincoln’s assassination, their incarceration could have been longer, especially since it was known that they had contact with Booth and assisted him during his escape.  Booth’s brother, Junius Brutus Booth, Jr., who knew nothing about the assassination, was imprisoned until June 22nd.  John Lloyd, the man who gave Booth and Herold a carbine, field glasses, and some whiskey at the Surratt Tavern, wasn’t released until June 30th.  One of the last people released from the Old Capitol Prison was Joao Celestino, the Portuguese ship captain whose ill-timed threats against William Seward made authorities believe he was a main conspirator.  Celestino was released from the Old Capitol Prison on July 8th and was ordered to leave the U.S. within 10 days, never to return.  And, of course, Dr. Mudd, Edman Spangler, Samuel Arnold, and Michael O’Laughlen were imprisoned at Fort Jefferson for three and a half years before the surviving three were pardoned in 1869.

The imprisonment endured by Jett, Ruggles, and Bainbridge could have certainly been worse had the government truly wanted to punish all those who assisted John Wilkes Booth.

American Brutus by Michael W. Kauffman
Brutus’ Judas: Willie Jett by Eric J. Mink
“Pursuit and Death of John Wilkes Booth” by Prentiss Ingraham, Century Magazine, Jan, 1890
Jett, Ruggles and Bainbridge’s prison records and oath of allegiances were accessed via (Bainbridge, Ruggles)
Rich Smyth

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18 thoughts on “Jett, Ruggles, and Bainbridge

  1. Great post as always, Dave! Thanks for shedding the light on this sometimes confusing “three-some!:

  2. Hey Dave. Any chance you can put a white background behind the writing? It’s really hard to read against the wood. At least for me.

    • Dop,

      When I load the site on my computer the white background shows up like normal. Maybe try opening it up in another browser? I’m not sure why it wouldn’t be working for you.


  3. Jeff

    Very interesting, after the long wait in the pine thicket and the trouble crossing the Potomac, Booth must have thought he was home free after joining these three soldiers heading south.

  4. Dave,

    I thank and really appreciate you taking the time to answer my question in such great detail. You really are very good Dave ! I have a follow-up re. the 3 Confederate soldiers, just curious about your opinion in this. The official story is that Booth and Herold simply “happened” upon three of Mosby’s men (Jett, Ruggles, Bainbridge) in Port Conway, waiting for transport to Port Royal. However, Ruggles, was the son of General Daniel Ruggles, who had strong ties to the Confederate Secret Service (as did his son?). Ruggles and Bainbridge were both in King George for reasons unknown at Ruggles’s home, “Friedland”, the entire week before Booth’s arrival, while they should have been with Mosby, who had not yet surrendered in the south. There was a plot to kidnap Lincoln by the Confederate Secret Service (well documented in “Come Retribution” by William Tidwell and James O. Hall). Mosby’s men had to aide Booth as he brought a kidnapped Lincoln south, but the kidnap plans were abandoned. Maybe Jett, Ruggles and Bainbridge were connected with the original plan, and now Booth had murdered Lincoln, they perhaps were put in to spirit the assassin away. The kidnap was abandoned, but why to abandon Booth? It’s maybe just speculation, but what is your opinion about the theory that Jett, Ruggles and Bainbridge were there not “accidentally” to help ferry Booth and Herold across and to help them to escape via safe houses (Garrett’s farm one of them ?). And what to say that the unit of Captain William Newbill of Mosby’s Rangers was camped in the woods behind Garrett’s farm for the duration of Booth’s stay (and had a meal with Booth and the Garrett family the day after Booth arrived at the farm). Just another coincidence ? I always thought it very strange that, although Jett, Ruggles and Bainbridge readily admitted they knew the identify of Booth they helped cross the river and take to Garrett’s, neither man was prosecuted for any reason by the Federal Government. You have a reasonable explanation, but is that a documented fact ?

    BTW. I’ve posted an image of Absalom Ruggles Bainbridge ca. 1890, courtesy Robert Cabot Bainbridge II, St. Paul Minnesota and published in “Come Retribution” at my Box cloud (don’t know if it is copyrighted):

    Thank you again,


    • Kees,

      Many authors have posited the same theory that Jett, Ruggles and Bainbridge were purposefully sent to assist Booth by Mosby. While it is an interesting idea, I ultimately have to agree with Come Retribution, one of the books which proposed this theory, which states that, “the episode [of Booth running into Jett, Ruggles, and Bainbridge] is suspicious, but proof is lacking.” Neither of the three men ever admitted to have been sent to assist Booth, and in their statements they all seemed genuinely surprised when they learned that the man with the broken leg was Lincoln’s assassin.

      As far as Jett, Ruggles, and Bainbridge not being prosecuted, I don’t believe there is any source that gives an exact, official reason. I think that the government were more concerned with the “big fish” who knew about or planned the assassination. When Booth died, I think the government lost a lot of interest in those who aided him during his escape. Had he managed to escape, I think the fate of Jett, Ruggles, and Bainbridge would have been far different.

      One of my main interests is the Garrett family and Booth’s time there. I can assure you that there was no contingent of Mosby’s men hiding in the woods around Garrett’s. Mosby had disbanded his command rather than surrender them on April 21st. And, similar to our Enoch Mason discussion, William Newbill was likely never at the Garrett’s at the same time as Booth but merely tried to put himself into the action years later. His accounts are filled with errors, and he makes the same timeline errors as others who unsuccessfully tried to weave their way into the story.

      Here’s one of his accounts published in the Richmond News Leader, Aug. 23, 1929:
      [After Mosby gave his men permission to return home] “…We naturally were crazy to see our parents, and I with two boys who lived in the same section set out at once southward on our horses. We came in the evening to a farm with a large white house in Caroline County near Port Royal, on the Rappahhanock. It belonged to a Mr. Garrett. We asked if we could have food for our horses and he graciously said of course, and to take them to the stable. Then, he said, we must eat supper with him on the lawn on a wooden table placed there under a big cherry tree. We were only too glad to. Now comes the thrilling part of my tale. As we were sitting down, two handsome young men, both well dressed, one in Confederate uniform and the other limping on a crutch, came up. They, too, were asked to supper and they shared the meal.
      It was Wilkes Booth, as I found out later, and his companion Herold. Booth had injured his leg when he jumped down onto the stage at Ford’s Theatre after shooting Lincoln, and had been treated by Dr. Mudd, you remember. I never saw a more handsome young man than he was, with black hair and black eyes. They both were pleasant and polite in conversation.
      After we ended our meal and talked, my friends and I said we would be off, we were in such a hurry to get home. The other two asked if they could sleep in the tobacco barn they saw yonder. Our host protested and said he would be only too glad if they would sleep in the house, but they declared that they must make an early start in the morning and so would use the barn. Then we left them. The rest is history.”

      There’s so much wrong with Newbill’s account that I don’t know where to begin. Booth and Herold did not just walk up to the Garrett farm on the evening of April 25th. Booth had been there, after being introduced by Jett, since the afternoon of the 24th. Herold came later, on the afternoon of the 25th. Herold was not dressed in a Confederate uniform nor was his conversations with the Garretts considered “pleasant and polite”. Jack Garrett thought Herold was acting like he was smart with liquor and his talking was ceaseless. Richard Garrett, their “host”, went right to bed after supper as he felt unwell. Booth and Herold did not want to sleep in the barn, but only suggested it after Jack Garret denied them entry into the house on account of his suspicions. The rest is history and history discounts practically all of Newbill’s account.

      Lastly, thank you for the heads up on Bainbridge’s photograph in Come Retribution. I knew that a photo of him existed but I could not find it in my files. I was about to email the Surratt House since I knew they had a copy in the James O. Hall Research Center.



  5. Dave,

    I think you are right (again). It’s my experience that in the Lincoln-murder-case (like the JFK-murder-case) fiction and facts, fantasy and reality, hearsay and real evidence are closely, and often inextricably, interwoven. That makes (at least for me) it difficult searching the real story between all other stories. You are of great help in digging up te real facts! I trust your insights! Thanks.


  6. John C. Fazio


    A wonderful piece. You are indeed my favorite gadabout.

    As for why the three, and so many others, were not tried, the main reason was that after the approximately 7-week trial of the conspirators, the prosecutors, the defense lawyers, the Commission, the government (especially the War Department), the investigators and the general public, were thoroughly confused, disappointed, exhausted, tired, bored out of their minds, bleary-eyed, hot, sweaty and more than eager to be done with the whole nasty business. The novelty had long since worn off. The thought of doing it all again, and perhaps again and even again, was anathema to everyone. The country had other things to worry about. There was the business of Reconstructiobn. There was the emerging animosity between the Radicals in Congress and the President. Stanton’s edict that accessories after the fact would be treated as accomplices and be subject to the death penalty was now largely forgotten. Furthermore, the government had no wish to wrestle with the bone-jarring issue of jurisdiction again, especially after the Milligan decision in April, 1866, which had cast doubt on the legitimacy of the entire proceeding the previous year. Thus it was that many who very likely had a hand in the conspiracy, and who certainly were accessories after the fact, and thus within the ambit of Stanton’s declaration, were not even arrested, or if arrested, were not charged, or if arrested and charged, were released. These included Thompson, Clay, Cleary, Sanders, Tucker, General Edwin Lee, Harper, Young, Vallandigham, Parker, Cobb, Cox, Swann, Jones, Roby, Harbin, Bryant, Hughes, Perrigrine Davis, Quesenberry, Stuart, William Lucas, Charlie Lucas, Baden, Jett, Bainbridge, Ruggles, the Garretts, Thomas and Nanie Green, the Bransons, Parr, Barnes, Bailey, Celestino, Ficklin, Stringfellow, Anna Surratt, Slater and Howell, to name only some. Recall that Thomas Jones wrote that he was surprised that the revenge taken by the government for Lincoln’s assassination stopped where it did. And recall, too, that Samuel Cox acknowledged that it cost him $225,000 (in 2014 dollars) to keep his neck from being stretched.

    As for the legitimacy of the encounter of the fugitives with Jett, Bainbridge and Ruggles, there is no proof, so all we have are possibilities, not even probabilities. I do believe that the appearance of Enoch Wellford Mason, who lived north of the river and who later said he was going south to purchase a wagon in Bowling Green, which he did not do, is suspicious. There are a couple of other suspicious items in the story..Further, we know that Mosby had good reasons for wanting to help the fugitives to escape: he had likely met with Booth in the summer or early fall of 1864; he had dispatched Powell to Booth in January, 1865; he had a hand in Conrad’s scheme, whatever its true nature was (probably assassination); and he also had a hand in the Harney mission. He was unquestionably a first rate fighter, but as far as the assassination is concerned, his hands were most definitely unclean.


  7. Hi Dave again,

    Hope not to bother you with this, but here is something FYI.

    You wrote: “Ruggles and Bainbridge were cousins which explains the last names as middle names coincidence”. Interesting! I did some research and here is the genealogy. Their mothers were sisters. Absalom’s mother was Elizabeth Sara Ann Graham Hooe (1813-1862) and Mortimer’s mother was Richardetta Barnes Mason Hooe (1820-1904), daughters from Alexander Seymour Hooe (1777-1835) and Elizabeth Mary Ann Barnes Mason (1785-1827). Elizabeth married (July, 22 1839) Mortimer Phillips Bainbridge (1808-1857) and got Absalom (2nd son) in 1847. Richardetta married (1837) Gen. Daniel Ruggles (1810-1897) and got Mortimer (2nd son) in 1844.So Absalom and Mortimer were 1st cousins.

    Absalom and Mortimer grew up at the family home “Friedland”, King George County, Virginia (9 miles southwest from King George Courthouse). They spent the summers as a child at the plantation and Mortimer was also there (his mother too) when his father was out somewhere re. his military career. Absalom was born at “Friedland”. Don’t know where Mortimer was born; do you? Georginana Hooe, a spinster sister of the mothers, lived at “Friedland” too and helped raising. So Absalom and Mortimer were very close, like real brothers.

    Alexander Seymour Hooe bought “Friedland” from the Taliaferros, early plantation owners in the area. Hooe used “Friedland” as a summer home, and after the Civil War it became a permanent home. Alexander Seymour Hooe had four sons and nine daughters (Absalom’s mother was dau #5 and Mortimer’s mother was daughter #8). All four sons died at a youn age: John Taliaferro Hooe (born in 1814) passed in 1822, Thornton Alexander “Seymour” Hooe (born in 1806) was mortally wounded at Monlina de Ray in 1847 (Mexican War), George “Mason” Hooe (born in 1807) died in 1845 at sea during the Mexican War while in command of the United States bark “Shark” (he and most of the crew dying of yellow fever) and Robert “Emmett” Hooe (born in 1811) died at sea off New York harbor during the Mexican war.

    “Friedland” was willed in 1835 to Mason Hooe’s children. In 1859 or 1860, Georgeana Hooe (the spinster sister) received the estate by will from her father. After the Civil War, and after Absalom’s parents died (both buried at “Friedland”), Gen. Daniel Ruggles lived at “Friedland”. He purchased it from Georginana Hooe,.In 1889 or 1890, Gen. Daniel’s son Major Edwin S. Ruggles (1843-1919) bought the estate. “Friedland” remained in the Hooe’ family until it was sold in 1928 to Mr. Henry Chinn. The present owners (since 1933) are Samuel A. Hays and Bertram A. Woodfork (source: University of Virginia Library).

    Now my humble questions. Ruggles and Bainbridge warned Booth and Herold that de Union troops were in Port Royal and heading to Bowling Green. After that they went home via Essex, Westmoreland to King George County. I suspect they went “home”, to “Friedland”. Were they arrested at “Friedland”?

    About the marriages. I found that Absalom Bainbridge married Eliza Cabot in 1882 and had two children. They divorced in 1893. But nothing about Mortimer Ruggles. Can you help with his wife’s name and date/year of marriage? Thanks. What do you know about their children?

    Please find a photo of “Friedland” here:

    Take care,

    • Kees,

      I don’t have a record of exactly where Ruggles and Bainbridge were arrested. The records I have just give “King George County” as their place of capture. It very well could be Friedland, but since they were arrested on two different dates, I would guess one was captured at Friedland and the other someplace else.

      I must have been mistaken when I typed that Ruggles had two children. Looking again now I can only find evidence of one. Mortimer Ruggles married Mary Walker Holmes in June of 1877 in Virginia. They had one child, Mortimer Bainbridge Ruggles, Jr who was born in November of 1877 (which might be the reason they married). The family is living together in the 1880 and 1900 censuses. Ruggles, the younger, became a doctor but then died on Novemeber 15, 1901 at the age of 23 or 24. Here are a couple news articles about Ruggles, Jr:

      • Dave,

        I was looking through some old files and found a mail from a certain Bob Bainbridge. Mortimer Bainbridge was his ggg grandfather. He wrote about “Friedland ” and its inhabitants. I quote: “Mortimer named his son for Daniel Ruggles (Absalom Ruggles Bainbridge) and Daniel named his son for Mortimer (Mortimer Bainbridge Ruggles). These sons served in Mosby’s command and assisted John Wilkes Booth’s escape across the Rappahannock in April of 1865, and delivered him to Garrett’s farm.

        They were arrested at Friedland,

        sent to Old Capital prison in DC, and then to a Federal Prison in Lake Erie. They were not tried, but released on pledge of allegiance to the United States.They both ended up working in Manhattan and both died there in 1902.”. (unquote).

        I also found (from a certain “Tim”) the following about Jett (Jett was a cousin of Tim’s great grandmother) . I quote: “Jett became infamous. hated by those who supported Booth and hated by those who thought that Lincoln would be a friend to the south. He left his home in Virginia, never to return. eventually, he died in the asylum at Williamsburg, Va. Some say he had gone crazy because he was ostracized. Others claimed his stomach wound never did heal correctly and that’s what killed him. The official record says apoplexy. It means bleeding. In those days, it was used to describe rage or excitement.”(unquote).

        Don’t know how reliable this all is, but maybe it is of some help.

        Take care,

  8. Dave,

    The story of Jett, Ruggles, and Bainbridge keeps fascinating me. I read Willie Jett’s statement of May 6, 1865 to federal officers here:

    Click to access jett-statement-5-6-1865-typescript3.pdf

    Jett states that his brother (not named) was with Mosby’s command, but he himself was NOT. Jeffry D. Wert lists all Mosby’s Partisan Rangers in his “Mosby’s Rangers” (Simon & Shuster, 1990) and he lists Lucius L. Jett and William Jett, both Company G Privates. Lucius L. Jett is Lucius Leland Jett, (older ?) brother of William Storke Jett (parents: Charles Coke Jett and Mary Wallace Towles). Willie claimed that he made his way to Westmoreland County to meet up with this brother. when he met Bainbridge and Ruggles and in Port Conway Booth and Herold. Bainbridge is also listed as Private Company G in Mosby’s 43rd Battalion Virginia Cavalry. However (!) Mortimer Ruggles is NOT. “Come Retribution” does also NOT mention Ruggles as one of Mosby’s Rangers. saying: “Lieutenant Mortimer B. Ruggles was the son of Confederate General Daniel Ruggles and second in command to Confederate agent Captain Thomas N. Conrad, who had scouted President Lincoln’s movements in planning his capture. Absalom R. Bainbridge, a private in Mosby’s Rangers and a cousin of Ruggles, had just returned to his home after the breakup of Mosby’s command. Willie Jett was also a member of Mosby’s Rangers and had just returned from the breakup of the command”. Jett says: “I did not belong to that command, but to the 9th Va. Cavalry, Co. C.”. He was severely wounded, recovered, but was for the remainder of the war unfit for active duty (his own account). Almost all sources say that Jett, Ruggles and Bainbridges were ALL three Mosby Rangers. Is that your opinion too? How reliable are Jett, Ruggles and Bainbridge in their statements? Was Jett only saving his neck by saying he was not in Mosby’s guerilla unit. I’m really curious about your opinion. BTW. Louis T. Powell (Louis Payne) is listed in Company B Privates.


    • Kees,

      Jett and Ruggles were late additions to Mosby’s Rangers and were likely never official. Jett says in his statement that he was returning from Mosby’s command but was not actually a part of it, which seesm to be true. Ruggles’ experience is similar. On March 29th, 1865, he wrote two letters, one to General Samuel Cooper in Richmond and the other to his father, in which he resigned as a first lieutenant and aid de camp under the condition that he be allowed to join Mosby’s Rangers. He wrote to his father that he was anxious to be on active duty. Mosby disbanded his men on April 21, so it appears Ruggles served under Mosby for less than a month.

      Ruggles’ letters can be found on but you need an account ($) to see them.

  9. Marc

    My grandmother was Olive Corinne Jett and her sister was Bessie. Any way to find if they were descendants of Willie? Any assistance would be appreciated?

  10. Rachael Jett

    I read somewhere that Willy Jett was shot in the back, I wonder if there was any truth to that?

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