An Update

Things have been a bit quiet here on At the beginning of the year, I took a break from my daily Lincoln assassination tweets. I had completed a full year minus a few days at the end of April when I was busy getting married (excuses, excuses). Eventually, I will complete the monumental task of converting all of those tweets into plain text and images so that they can be housed here on my site in a more user friendly way. I’ll be working on that project in the future.

Of late, however, my limited free time has been devoted to researching Fort Jefferson and the time the convicted conspirators spent there from 1865 – 1869. Next month, my wife Jen and I will be camping at Dry Tortugas National Park. This will be my second visit to the island fortress. During my previous trip, I attempted to shoot some videos around the fort talking about what life was like for the conspirators imprisoned there. Unfortunately, I was not prepared for the strong winds and noise reverberating nature of the fort. This resulted in very poor audio and made those initial videos unusable. For this trip, however, I’ve invested in a wireless microphone and am lucky to have the assistance of my podcaster wife who will help make sure my audio is up to snuff.

In preparation for the trip, I’ve been reading many books, articles and NPS documents about the history Fort Jefferson, trying my hardest to determine what the ever changing Fort was like during the conspirators’ imprisonment. I’ve been aided by some of the documents and images digitized by the National Archives and the Open Parks Network. For example, here is a drawing from the NARA showing what Fort Jefferson looked like in 1867. It’s a large file so you will probably want to click to enlarge it & view details:

You may notice that the legend mentions that photographs of the Fort were taken this year to show the progress of construction. The drawing has two spots marked A and B on Front 4 of the fort (the southwest side of the fort) from which the photographs were taken. By going through the NPS’s digitized collection of images at the Open Parks Network, I was able to determine that these were the 6 photographs taken in 1867, right in the middle of the conspirators’ sentences:

These images provide a unique glimpse at the environment of post-war Fort Jefferson, just prior to when the Fort was struck by a Yellow Fever epidemic that claimed the life of conspirator Michael O’Laughlen and several soldiers.

I hope to be able to record informative and well researched videos while on Fort Jefferson and release them here after I get back (and do some editing). So, while things will likely continue to be quiet here, know that some big things are in the works.



Categories: News | Tags: , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “An Update


    Hopefully you will kayak over to Michael O’Laughlen burial site!

    • We could probably kayak over it, Rich, but Bird Key where O’Laughlen was originally buried has been submerged since 1935.

      • Vinnie luisi

        Did the government leave the bodies there and is the cemetery considered a national underwater site now. Concerns of divers digging up the site for artifacts. Gruesome as It may sound. Vinnie luisi. Dunedin florida historian.

  2. James


  3. Miriam Crispin

    Looking forward to hearing about your adventure to Fort Jefferson.

  4. Dennis Valandingham

    Looking forward to seeing the videos. Thank you for all your efforts Dave they are much appreciated.

  5. Joe

    Take EMP equipment as the fort is said to be haunted. You might get lucky and encounter the spirit of Michael O’Laughlen since he died at the fort. Safe travels!

    • I’m not a big believer in ghost sightings but if I see anything spooky (aside for the resident rats on the island), I’ll let you know.

  6. Steve Holley

    As child of the 60s, I remember watching the 1938 movie Prisoner of Shark Island, which captured the lives of the unhung conspirators sent to Dry Tortugas. I have no idea where to procure a copy, but have full confidence in your resourcefulness!

  7. Richard Sloan

    I have seen most of these pics, but not all. Thanx for sharing them with all of us. I went to the fort in the late 70’s with dick Mudd and about four of his grandchildren. It was memorable! I have video of us all there. It only runs about 25 secs. I ought to convert it ti DVD. Dick was a publicity monger on behalf of his crusade. So you can imagine when we discovered that a Florida tv crew was there just to tell the audience about the attraction . They interviewed him. Dr. Mudd was ecstatic! We were in a key west eatery the night before, and a pretty young thang overheard us talking about our plans for the next day, so she asked us if there was room on the plane for her, too. She was fit in and joined us. Her last name was Booth . Five Mudd’s and a Booth with me at Ft. Jeff. It doesn’t get better than that! BUY A WINDSCREEN FOR YOYR MIKE. I think it should be the foam type. To keep it the right fit and to keep it from flying off in the wind, tape it to the camera with black electrical tape. Try to position yourself so the wind is not facing the Mike if at all possible. That’s a tough challenge. GOOD LUCK!

    Sent from my iPhone


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