Posts Tagged With: Pine Thicket

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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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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John Wilkes Booth in the Woods: Parts 1 – 3

For about four and a half days between April 16 – April 21, 1865, John Wilkes Booth and his accomplice, David E. Herold, hid from federal troops in the southern Maryland woods.  Near the 149th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, I undertook a project to reenact, as accurately as possible, this often forgotten part of the assassin’s escape route. My hope was to gain a better understanding of Booth’s conditions and the impact those days in the woods had on his state of mind.  The follow videos are parts of a series I’m calling “John Wilkes Booth in the Woods” which documents my endeavor.

I’m very pleased to present the first three parts of the “John Wilkes Booth in the Woods” project for your viewing pleasure:

Part One:

Part Two:

Part Three:


As editing of the footage continues, new parts will be uploaded and released here on BoothieBarn.  Stay tuned for much, much more!

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Teaser: John Wilkes Booth in the Woods

Rain and thunderstorms have cut my planned four and a half day reenactment of John Wilkes Booth’s time in the pine thicket to only three days and two nights.  Though I was not able to recreate the duration of Booth’s concealment, I believe that I got a great sense of Booth’s conditions and the mindset that overcame him during this time.  I’m currently going through the over 300 video clips that I shot during my excursion and I will be editing them together to create a documentary of the experience.

While a finished video is a ways off, I did want to share with you some still photos that I have of the camp out.  In addition to my video camera, I brought along a trail camera to take still shots.  Usually tied to trees and used by hunters to track their game, the trail camera I had took one picture per minute when activated by motion.  Sadly, there is no way to see the pictures as they are being taken so I just had to tie the camera to the tree and hope that the angle would capture me when activated.

Therefore, as a teaser to my pine thicket video, here are some of the pictures captured by the trail camera during my time in the woods.  Just ignore the time and date stamps at the bottom as I neglected to set this up before turning on the camera:

Thinking about my first hours in the woods as the sun sets.

Thinking about my first hours in the woods as the sun sets.

Armed to the teeth as I go to bed for the first night.

Armed to the teeth as I go to bed for the first night.

Good morning sunshine

Good morning sunshine

Passing the time writing in my Booth diary

Passing the time writing in my Booth diary

Always on the look out for federal troops

Always on the look out for federal troops

Enjoying the bread my Thomas Jones brought me to eat

Enjoying the bread my Thomas Jones brought me to eat

I was about to bed down for the second night and found a toad on my blanket.  Here I'm coaxing him away with my crutch.

I was about to bed down for the second night and found a toad on my blanket. Here I’m coaxing him away with my crutch.

About to go to sleep for the second night.

About to go to sleep for the second night.



My favorite shot of them all.  This shows me right after trying my first drink of bourbon whiskey.  I am not a fan.

My favorite picture of them all. This shows me right after trying my first drink of bourbon whiskey. I am not a fan.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.  There’s much more to come!

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A Preface to a Reenactment

This coming week will mark the 149th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination at the hands of John Wilkes Booth. In previous years the National Park Service and the Ford’s Theatre Society have commemorated this moment in history with a wreath laying ceremony at the Petersen House.  If the tradition is repeated (and I dearly hope that it is) I will, sadly, not be around to witness it.  Instead, I will be about 40 miles south, sharing in the moment of silence surrounded by nothing but trees and birds.  I feel that the log cabin born President wouldn’t mind.

Starting this Saturday, April 12, I will be isolating myself into a forested area in Southern Maryland for a little over four and a half days.  I will not have a tent.  I will not have access to running water.  I will not have a change of clothing.  The purpose for this self imposed isolation is my desire to reenact a moment of history.  Those of you who follow this blog, my Twitter account, or are part of the discussions over at Roger Norton’s excellent Lincoln Discussion Symposium, already know the period of time that I am trying to reenact.  149 years ago, from about midnight on April 16th through dusk on April 20th, John Wilkes Booth and his accomplice David Herold found themselves hiding from Federal troops in a pine thicket in Southern Maryland.  Their caretaker was a man by the name of Thomas Jones.  During those dangerous times, Jones kept the two men hidden and fed while he waited for a chance to get them across the Potomac River.  For almost five days, Booth and Herold hid in the pines worried that the snap of every twig was the cavalry about to pounce on them.

I want to duplicate that experience.  Prior to his spell in the woods, Booth was a braggart regarding his deed and expected his act to be celebrated by his countrymen.  A distinct shift in thinking occurred during those long days and nights in the woods.  Booth read about how his crime was perceived in the newspapers that Jones brought him and he was dismayed.  Rather than finding the doors of Confederate sympathizers opening wide for him, he found himself sleeping on the cold ground dependent on a single soul for his basic needs.  The Booth who emerge from those woods, was a transformed man, a beaten man.  The glorious dream that Booth hoped for faded into a wooded nightmare before his very eyes.

My future camp site

My future camp site

In literature about the assassination, the time in which Booth was in the pine thicket is given little space.  This is not the blame of the historian of author, however.  The lack of interpretation of Booth’s time in the pine thicket is due to the lack of resource material regarding this very private time for the assassin.  Therefore, I decided that understanding this period of time on the escape of John Wilkes Booth would require more than just consulting texts and resources.  To attempt to get into the mindset of John Wilkes Booth, I decided to recreate the conditions that he faced.

Over the past couple of months and with the help of so many generous colleagues, I have assembled the clothing and supplies that Booth would have had with him during his time in the pine thicket.  My reenactment will feature one major anachronism: a video camera.  With this modern tool, I will record my experiences and my thoughts throughout the endeavor.  After returning to modern times, I will edit and share the footage of my primitive camp out here on the blog.

I hope this endeavor explains my more recent silence on BoothieBarn.  The preparation for this undertaking has been massive and has precluded me from engaging in my normal research.

When the 149th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination rolls around in a few days and this blog appears to be silent on the matter, just read one of the previous posts (like this one or this one) and think of this crazy researcher who is at that moment laying out in the woods trying to get into the mindset of the assassin … and trying to remember how many leaves there are on poison ivy.

P.S. Some of my friends and family have expressed their concern for my safety during this excursion.  In order to provide “proof of life” to those caring souls I will be asking my own Thomas Jones to post pictures of me on my Twitter account when she comes to bring me supplies.  So keep an eye on @BoothieBarn over the next week to see how I’m getting along.

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Preparing for a Boothie “Camping Trip”

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Following the Escape Route: Pine Thicket to Huckleberry

One of my favorite books about the Lincoln assassination is Michael Kauffman’s, American Brutus.  The research is utterly superb and Kauffman delves into every nook and cranny to provide the clearest picture possible about the assassination.  Though I’ve only met Mike once at a talk he gave, I am also very impressed by his devotion to recreating the history.  The man has spent countless nights at Tudor Hall, jumped from a ladder onto the stage at Ford’s to replicate Booth’s jump from the box, attempted to row across the Potomac river, and even burned down a period tobacco barn that was scheduled for demolition.  I find all these recreations of history absolutely fascinating and also just plain cool.  Taking Michael Kauffman’s lead, I decided to get my feet wet today and try to recreate some of the escape route on foot.  To that end, today I walked from the location of where John Wilkes Booth and David Herold were hidden by Thomas Jones in the Pine Thicket, to one of their stops before reaching the shores of the Potomac, Jone’s home of Huckleberry.

Pine Thicket to Huckleberry Map

Though not part of the trek before me, I started my day by driving from my house to Rich Hill, the former home of Samuel Cox.  It was on my way to the Pine Thicket and I wanted to check on the building which, sadly, will not be here for long is something is not done to keep it up:



From Rich Hill, I drove to the Pine Thicket and parked my car in the area in front of the Maryland Civil War Trials signage in the area.  Exiting my car, I put on my backpack which contained a water bottle and Thomas Jones’ book, J. Wilkes Booth.  I started to walk down Wills Rd. and soon came to what is believed to be the Collis House.  In Jones’ book published in 1893, he states that the spot he first beheld the fugitives in the pines was now occupied by an Englishman named John Collis who built his home there.  It is thought, with relative certainty, that the Collis house still exists as part of this house on Wills Rd.

Collis House Engraving


I knocked on the door, hoping to chat with the owner but either no one was home, or they did not want to talk with me, so I walked on.  Reaching the end of Wills Rd., I realized that this trip was a good opportunity to live up to my previous comment that I would attempt to record video of more of my Boothie adventures.  So, I switched from pictures to video on my iPhone, and I documented the rest of my journey with videos.  What follows are those 10 short videos.  I was speaking off the cuff with nothing prepared and so please forgive any factual errors I may have made.  During my last video, I turned the camera while recording, hoping the video would rotate as well.  It did not, so for part of the video you will have to tilt your head sideways.   Sorry.  It was an amateur production, what can I say?

I left Huckleberry and retraced my route exactly as I had came. I enjoyed it, but I was certainly in need of a shower by the time I got home. 90 degree heat with no breeze and very little shade makes for one sweaty walk no matter the distance.

In conclusion, today I did my best to walk a mile(+) in the shoes of John Wilkes Booth, David Herold, and Thomas A. Jones. They made a similar journey under the cover of darkness listening intently to every sound they heard. It took me 50 minutes to walk the same basic route that the trio walked between dusk and 9:30 pm on April 20th, 1865.

Huckleberry June 2013

My recreation of history may not be “burning down a tobacco barn” quality, but it’s a start.

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