Horsehead Tavern in Baden, MD, is an extremely minor place in the story of the Lincoln assassination. After leaving John Lloyd at the Surratt Tavern in Clinton, we know that John Wilkes Booth and Davy Herold rode their way through the small neighborhood of T.B. After this, the next stop the pair made was at Dr. Mudd’s house. We are not exactly sure where Booth and Herold crossed over into Charles County. Horsehead Tavern was similar to the Surratt Tavern. Both served as the local post offices with the communities around them bearing their names (Surrattsville/Horsehead). Both were on the stagecoach lines and often had visitors making their way north or south. The two served as taverns and rented rooms to those who needed a place to stay. And lastly, both had run ins with John Wilkes Booth. The only known time of John Wilkes Booth going to the Surratt Tavern was his escape after shooting President Lincoln. Rumor has it though that John Wilkes Booth visited and slept at Horsehead Tavern in the fall of 1864 while scouting his future abduction/escape route. An image from 1903 marks the bedroom where Booth is said to have slept.
If the story is true, then we know that John Wilkes Booth was at least familiar with the roads around Horsehead, making it a possible route for him to take on his way to Dr. Mudd’s. In truth, Horsehead Tavern is little more than a possible waypoint on the escape route.
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Has anyone done research on the late-1864 stage coach route(s) between Washington and Prince George’s and Charles Counties, and/or how closely the present day roads mirror the “roads” that existed in April 1865? The stage coach route may be the key to resolving the debate on whether Booth and Herold’s ride to Dr. Mudd’s took them past the Horsehead Tavern or St. Peter’s Church.
If it is true that Booth rode that stage on at least three occasions in late 1864 between Washington and Bryantown (and I believe it is), then it is highly likely that he was attentive to route traveled. I have not seen evidence that prior to those trips that Booth was otherwise familiar with the roads in Prince George’s or Charles Counties, Maryland.
As demonstrated by his familiarity with Namjemoy Creek and John Hughes, David Herold knew his way around western Charles County. However, the impromptu stop at the home of Oswell Swann and his engagement as a guide would indicate that Herold was not familiar with the northeastern portion of the county or that he would have known the route from Surrattsville to Dr. Mudd’s.
It is speculation on my part, but it would seem likely that Booth took the route he learned from his rides on the stage coach. Area taverns served as stage coach stops. I have seen Surratt’s Tavern and the Bryantown Tavern cited as stage stops. While I would surmise that the Horsehead Tavern was a stop in between Surrattsville and Bryantown, I have not seen written confirmation of it.
That’s why I am interested in whether someone has researched the stage coach route (or routes?), and whether it was what is now Matawoman Beantown Road, or St. Peters Church Road, or the southeasterly Brandywine Road to Horsehead. Whatever it was, I am inclined to believe that the stage coach route was the same route used by Booth and Herold.