When John Wilkes Booth arrived at this 31 year-old physician’s home in Charles County, MD during the morning hours of April 15th, 1865, it was his fourth face-to-face meeting with the good doctor that we know of. On a previous meeting between Mudd and Booth in Washington, Dr. Mudd introduced the young actor to another man who would feature prominently in the conspiracy to abduct Lincoln, John H. Surratt, Jr. After the assassination, Booth sought Dr. Mudd specifically to help set his broken leg. Mudd did so, and Booth and Herold spent the daylight hours of April 15th on the Mudd property. Dr. Mudd claimed ignorance of the wounded man’s identity and stated to investigators that he did not hear about the assassination of Lincoln until he made a trip into Bryantown that day. According to Mudd, upon his return from Bryantown the two men were already departing from his house.
Though there has been considerable effort put forth, especially by his descendants, to portray Dr. Mudd as an innocent country doctor fulfilling his hippocratic oath, the truth is far more complicated and not as innocent. Dr. Mudd’s involvement in Booth’s conspiracy is probably best stated by his own lawyer, Frederick Stone: “His prevarications were painful. He had given his whole case away by not trusting even his counsel or neighbors or kinfolks. It was a terrible thing to extricate him from the toils he had woven about himself. He had denied knowing Booth when he knew him well. He was undoubtedly accessory to the abduction plot, though he may have supposed it would never come to anything. He denied knowing Booth when he came to his house when that was preposterous. He had even been intimate with Booth.”
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Video Courtesy of Joe Gleason
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