Posts Tagged With: Herold

Armed and Dangerous: A Historical Misreading by Kate Ramirez

Preface by Dave:

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of taking fellow Lincoln assassination researcher, Kate Ramirez, along the John Wilkes Booth escape route.  During the day-long trek, she mentioned an article she had written about a glaring transcription error from one of the conspirator’s writings.  I immediately asked her if I could publish her article on my site for us all to enjoy.  What follows is Kate’s article, and another example of always looking at the original source material first, instead of relying on the work of others.

Please do not reproduce the material printed here (excluding the images of the poem and of David Herold’s signature which are found at the National Archives) without the consent of the author, Kate Ramirez.

Armed and Dangerous: A Historical Misreading by Kate Ramirez

In the aftermath of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on April 14, 1865, southern actor turned assassin John Wilkes Booth and his fellow co conspirator David E. Herold were moving south in an effort to escape the chaos seizing the northern states and the Union soldiers thirsty for their blood.

It was on the 24th, ten days after the nightmare at Ford’s Theatre, that Booth and Herold finally arrived in Port Conway, Virginia and proceeded across the Rappahannock River on what would be the final stages of their escape. Before crossing, the pair met a trio of Confederate soldiers. One, Private William “Willie” Jett, became the most well known of the three, often remembered as the man who betrayed Booth by leading the 16th New York Cavalry to the farm of Richard H. Garrett. There is a lesser known tale (which can be found in Michael Kauffman’s American Brutus) which tells of Jett asking the famous actor to sign something as a memento. In turn, Booth gave Jett something less incriminating than a signature: a poem.

Picture 1

Booth and Herold wrote the poems shown above. The top section belongs to Booth and the bottom to Herold. Historians have copied the poems for numerous books and articles but none have ever realized that one word in Herold’s poem has been misread and therefore miswritten the same number of times. The word is arm. Or, as it has been recorded, brow. The mistake is something of a contradiction, small in size but rather large when one realizes it has been sitting in plain view since 1865 and no one has noticed it.

The picture below shows where the word is found in the poem.

picture 2

All the sources I have seen record the line as, “She shyly clung upon his brow.” However, it is my belief that the line actually reads, “She shyly clung upon his arm,” which would make much more sense. Brow is another word for forehead. You cannot cling to it. However, you can cling to an arm.

Some might argue that Herold’s poem rhymes and changing the words would throw off the rhyme scheme. After all, the words brow and arm sound nothing alike nor do they rhyme. While that is true, the word in question does not fall in the lines that rhyme. Herold’s poem rhymes the last word in every other line. In the photo below, the red arrows show the end words that rhyme. The black star is the word arm/brow. It does not have a matching rhyme.

picture 3

Here is a close up picture of the word being discussed.

If it were the word brow, the letter O would be missing. Some might again argue that Herold was writing with a quick hand because he and Booth had to get moving. However, other words that include the letter O are written just fine. Look below at the words South and honor. All the letters are formed. There is clearly no O in the word thought to be brow.

picture 5

Another probable cause for the misreading is the fact that Herold looped the letter A in an interesting way. If looked at too fast, the letter can look like a lowercase b. However, if you examine the pictures below, which shows the words dark and daughter, you will notice that Herold often wrote the letter A with a similar loop.

picture 6

The final example involves the M in the word I believe to be arm. It appears to be the W of brow because of the extra line Herold left at the end. However, that line could also be decorative and Herold seemed to like writing with a decorative flair. Look at the photo of his signature below.

picture 7

Just as the M was mistaken for a W, those fancy penmanship loops that decorate the H in Herold and the final D in David could both be mistaken for the letter E if glanced at too quick. Such letter loops look to have been part of Herold’s writing style and he incorporated them in, probably subconsciously, when he could.

Let’s review. The word arm would make more sense in the context of the poem than the word brow, changing the word would not affect the rhyme scheme, the letter O appears to be missing and not just squished in with the other letters due to quick writing, the letter A is looped and not the letter B, and the letter M has an extra embellishment and is not the letter W. Now look at the word again.

picture 8

See what I’m talking about? The word once thought to be brow actually appears to be the word arm.

So to end by restoring the original voice of David E. Herold,

Dark daughter of the Sultry South
Thy dangerous eyes and lips
Essayed to win the prize and leave
Dear honor we Eclipse
She shyly clung upon his arm
He stayed now at the door
I could not love thee, dear so much
Loved I not Honor more.
Adieu, forever mine, my dear
Adieu forever more!

Herold B&W Grave

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Graves of the Conspirators

Over the last week, I had the opportunity to visit and photograph many of the graves of the Lincoln assassination conspirators. Here are some black and white stills of their final resting places.

Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, David Herold, George Atzerodt

Location: Old Arsenal Penitentiary, Washington, D.C.
Period of interment: 1865 – 1867
Pine Boxes B&W

Site of the burial of the executed conspirators

Immediately following their execution, the four conspirators were buried in pine boxes next to the gallows.  In 1867, their bodies, along with the body of John Wilkes Booth, were reburied in a warehouse on the grounds of the Arsenal.  In 1869, President Johnson released the remains to their respective families.  Today, the site of the conspirators’ execution and initial burial location are part of the tennis courts at Fort Lesley McNair in D.C.

John Wilkes Booth

Location: Green Mount Cemetery, Baltimore, MD.
Period of interment: 1869 – Present
Booth B&W Grave

After Booth’s body was returned to Washington and an autopsy was preformed, he was initially buried in a gun box beneath the floor of a storage room at the Arsenal. In 1867, he was moved and his remains were placed with those of the other conspirators in a warehouse on the Arsenal grounds. President Johnson released Booth’s body in 1869. Edwin Booth purchased a family lot at Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore and had his grandfather, father, three infant siblings, and brother John Wilkes buried together in the plot. John Wilkes Booth is unmarked in the plot.

David Herold

Location: Congressional Cemetery, Washington, D.C.
Period of interment: 1869 – Present
Herold B&W Grave

The Herold family had owned a burial plot at Congressional Cemetery since 1834. Davy was the seventh person to be buried there when his body was released in 1869. While Davy is unmarked, his sister Elizabeth Jane was later buried right on top of him. Her stone is the farthest right in the plot.

Mary Surratt

Location: Mount Olivet Cemetery, Washington, D.C.
Period of interment: 1869 – Present
Mary B&W Grave

This basic stone bearing only “Mrs. Surratt”, is a replacement for an earlier stone that bore the same text. It is all that marks the plot of Mary Surratt, her children Isaac and Anna, her son-in-law, and some of her grandchildren.

Lewis Powell (body)

Location: Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C.
Period of interment: 1884 – Present
Grave of Lewis Powell's body Rock Creek Section K, Lot 23

While Lewis Powell’s skull is buried with his mother in Florida, the rest of his body is likely at D.C.’s Rock Creek Cemetery in a mass unmarked grave in Section K, lot 23. A portion of that section is pictured above. Eerily, one of the headstones in that section is marked “Lewis”. For more about the travels of Lewis Powell’s remains, read the middle section of this post.

George Atzerodt

Last confirmed location: Glenwood Cemetery, Washington, D.C.
Period of interment: 1869 – ?
Public Vault Glenwood Cemetery ExteriorPublic Vault Glenwood Cemetery Interior

The location of George Atzerodt’s remains are still a bit of a mystery. It is known that they were placed in the public vault of Glenwood Cemetery (pictured above) after being disinterred from the Arsenal. It was erroneous believed that he was then buried in a family plot at St. Paul’s Cemetery in Baltimore. Research facilitated by this website has proven this to be false. It is possible that Atzerodt is buried somewhere at Glenwood but the interment book for that period of time was stolen in the late 1800’s. More research is needed.

Dr. Samuel A. Mudd

Location: St. Mary’s Catholic Church Cemetery, Bryantown, MD
Period of interment: 1883 – Present
Mudd B&W Grave

After Dr. Mudd died in 1883, a tall monument with a stone cross on the top was placed on his grave at St. Mary’s Church. Around 1940, some of Dr. Mudd’s descendants decided to replace the weathered stone. The new stone (pictured above) contained Mrs. Mudd’s birth and death dates as well as the doctor’s.

John Surratt

Location: New Cathedral Cemetery, Baltimore, MD
Period of interment: 1916 – Present
Surratt B&W Grave

The longest lived of all the conspirators, John Surratt and his family are buried under this plain cross stone bearing only the family name in Baltimore’s New Cathedral Cemetery.

Samuel Arnold

Location: Green Mount Cemetery, Baltimore, MD
Period of interment: 1906 – Present
Arnold B&W Grave

Samuel Bland Arnold, one of John Wilkes Booth’s schoolboy friends, was involved in the abduction plot but was not in D.C. when the assassination occurred. Sam was the last member of his family to be buried in the plot upon his death in 1906.

Michael O’Laughlen

Location: Green Mount Cemetery, Baltimore, MD
Period of interment: 1870 – Present
O'Laughlen B&W Grave

Another childhood friend of Booth’s who was involved in the initial abduction plot, Michael O’Laughlen was sentenced to life in prison at Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas. He died from yellow fever while in jail despite the attentive care he received from his fellow prisoner, Dr. Mudd. He was initially buried on an island adjacent to Fort Jefferson. After his fellow conspirators had been pardoned, O’Laughlen’s body was transported from Florida to Balitmore. He was interred in the family plot on December 14th, 1870.

Edman Spangler

Location: Old St. Peter’s Church Cemetery, Waldorf, MD
Period of interment: 1875 – Present
Spangler B&W Grave

After his release from Fort Jefferson, Edman Spangler returned to working at John Ford’s different theatres. Eventually he made he way to Charles County Maryland and reunited with Dr. Mudd. Spangler lived on Dr. Mudd’s property doing carpentry work and farming until his death there in 1875. His grave was marked in the 1980’s by the Surratt and Mudd Societies.

The Lincoln Assassination: Where Are They Now?: A Guide to the Burial Places of Individuals Connected to the Lincoln Assassination in Washington, DC by Jim Garrett and Rich Smyth
Betty Ownsbey

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John Wilkes Booth in the Woods: Part 8

John Wilkes Booth in the Woods

Part 8 of my series “John Wilkes Booth in the Woods” is now complete and available for viewing.

In this part I discuss Booth’s comfort and the ways he could have passed the hours of waiting.

To watch the video, you can either click on the image above and scroll down, click HERE to watch the video on YouTube, or play the embedded video below.

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John Wilkes Booth in the Woods: Part 7

John Wilkes Booth in the Woods

Part 7 of my series “John Wilkes Booth in the Woods” is now complete and available for viewing. In this part, I practice walking with a crutch and experience my second night sleeping in the woods.

To watch the video, you can either click on the image above and scroll down, click HERE to watch the video on YouTube, or play the embedded video below.

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John Wilkes Booth in the Woods: Part 6

I just completed Part 6 of my series “John Wilkes Booth in the Woods“. In this part, I discuss the fate of John Wilkes Booth and David Herold’s horses while the pair hid in the pine thicket.

To watch the video, click on the image below and scroll down, or click HERE to watch the video on YouTube.

John Wilkes Booth in the Woods

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John Wilkes Booth in the Woods: Part 5

Part 5 of my series John Wilkes Booth in the Woods is edited and uploaded!  To watch it, click on the image below and scroll down, or, to watch the video right on YouTube, click HERE.

John Wilkes Booth in the Woods

I apologize for the delay between the previous installments and this one.  I was having computer issues which prevented me from editing and rendering videos.  Now, thanks to my brother, my computer is fixed and the rest of the videos should be completed and shared in a more timely manner.  Thank you for understanding.


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Photo of the Day: David Herold

David Edgar Herold was one of Booth’s primary conspirators and remained by the assassin’s side during the twelve day manhunt. At the Garretts’ tobacco barn, Davy finally surrendered to federal troops and Booth was shot and killed.  Davy was brought back to Washington, imprisoned, tried, convicted, and, finally, executed on July 7th, 1865 for his role in the conspiracy.

This photograph of Davy Herold, likely taken when he was still in school, was confiscated by government detectives, duplicated and used in federal wanted posters for Booth, Herold and John Surratt:
Top of wanted poster

Image Source: National Archives


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John Wilkes Booth in the Woods: Part 4

Part 4 of my series, John Wilkes Booth in the Woods, is now edited and uploaded!


In an effort to keep all the videos together and in one easily accessible place, I’ve created a new page here on BoothieBarn for the series.

You can access the John Wilkes Booth in the Woods page a few different ways:

1. I’ve added a link to the page on the menu bar at the very top of the site:

JWB Woods top Menu

2.  You can find a link to it listed on the side of the site under the “Pages” header:

JWB Woods Pages

3. Easiest of all, clicking the following picture will take you right to the page.  I’ll be sure to include this image in future posts about the series:

John Wilkes Booth in the Woods

As more videos are completed I’ll add them to the John Wilkes Booth in the Woods page and write a quick post to let you all know a new video is up. Thank you for your continued support and patience.

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