Saturday, June 10, 1865
- Newspaper Descriptions
The court convened at 11 o’clock.
Present: All nine members of the military commission, the eight conspirators, Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt, Assistant Judge Advocates Bingham and Burnett, the recorders of the court, lawyers Walter Cox, William Doster, Thomas Ewing, and Frederick Stone.
Absent: Reverdy Johnson, Frederick Aiken, and John Clampitt.
The prisoners were seated in the same manner as the day before.
The reading of the prior day’s testimony was completed between 12 and 1 o’clock.
Daniel E. Monroe, a law student from Charles County, Maryland, was called as a defense witness for Dr. Mudd. Monroe stated that on Easter Sunday, April 16th, he learned from a neighbor who resided in Bryantown that the name of the man who has assassinated Lincoln was Edwin Booth. Monroe also testified that prosecution witness Daniel Thomas had a poor reputation for honesty in the region. When asked about his own loyalty to the Union, Monroe stated he had always supported the government, though he disagreed with how abolition was brought about. He stated that he had voted for Lincoln in the most recent Presidential election.
Lawrence A. Gobright, the trial reporter for the Associated Press, was called as a defense witness for Dr. Mudd. Thomas Ewing, Dr. Mudd’s lawyer, asked Gobright about the reports Gobright had made immediately following the assassination of Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre. Gobright stated he got to Ford’s Theatre shortly after the assassination had occurred and while there were some persons there who stated the assassin was John Wilkes Booth, there was a degree of uncertainty about it at the time. Due to his uncertainty over the matter, Gobright did not telegraph the name of the assassin in his original reports in the hours that followed. It was not until he saw the official bulletin from the War Department the next day that he published Booth’s name. Thomas Ewing was hoping to use the testimony of Gobright and the previous witness, Monroe, to re-establish the idea that the identity of the assassin was not known for certainty when Dr. Mudd visited Bryantown on April 15th. This ran counter to the prior testimony of Lt. David Dana.
Father Charles H. Stonestreet, the pastor of St. Aloysius Catholic Church in D.C., was recalled by the defense after previously testifying on May 25th. Father Stonestreet testified that he was the President of Frederick College in Fredrick, Maryland in 1850 and that Samuel Mudd was a student there during that time. Father Stonestreet stated that the college only had one main vacation period during the year which was between July and August. There were other short vacation days throughout the year but special dispensation had to be given to boarding students, like Sam Mudd, in order to return to their distant homes. According to Father Stonestreet, most students did not leave the college during those short breaks, even around Christmas. During cross-examination, Father Stonestreet admitted that he could swear that Sam Mudd was indeed at the college during December of 1850, but that his knowledge was merely based on his book of students and the normal operations of the college regarding vacations. The purpose of establishing Dr. Mudd’s whereabouts in 1850 was to discredit the testimony of Rev. William Evans, who claimed, among many things, to have first met Dr. Mudd in Bryantown around December of 1850.
Thomas Ewing then announced to the court that his cases regarding the defense of Dr. Mudd, Samuel Arnold, and Edman Spangler were now closed. General Hunter, the president of the commission, asked the other defense attorneys if their cases were also closed. William Doster announced that his case for George Atzerodt was closed. Walter Cox stated that he had not been able to get all of the witnesses he had desired in Michael O’Laughlen’s case but that he would not ask the court to delay the proceedings on his account. Therefore, the case of Michael O’Laughlen could be considered closed. Frederick Aiken, John Clampitt, and Reverdy Johnson, all the lawyers for Mrs. Surratt, were absent from the room at this time. However, Assistant Judge Advocate John Bingham stated that Mrs. Surratt’s lawyers had informed him they had one more witness they had desired to call but, like Walter Cox, they would not delay the court on this matter. Frederick Stone, lawyer for David Herold, stated that his case was closed.
This only left the case of Lewis Powell still open. William Doster stated that he had still not heard anything regarding the witnesses he had summoned from Upperville and Warrenton, Virginia. Judge Advocate Joseph Holt replied that the usual military channels and telegraph had been used in an effort to locate the witnesses requested but that all efforts had been unsuccessful thus far. Holt also stated that Doster was uncertain if the parties he had called for even existed and due to this there should be no delay waiting for people who may not exist. Doster then stated that Dr. Charles Nichols had not yet been given access to Lewis Powell as requested so that he could make an examination of him regarding his sanity. Holt replied that Powell was available to Dr. Nichols at any point, aside from the time he spent in court. Doster countered that it was the practice in the state of Maine that those suspected of insanity were to be transferred to the care of a physician for evaluation and that a trial was not over until such an examination and a report was made. Doster did not believe the court should be ended until all witnesses were procured and a through scientific examination of his client conducted. He requested a delay of 8 days in order to either gain the attendance of his witnesses or allow a proper medical evaluation to take place. Holt replied that the so called practice of transferring a prisoner to a physician’s care for evaluation was not known in this jurisdiction and that he was unwilling to allow it in this case. The commission discussed the matter and informed Doster that Dr. Nichols had until Monday morning (a little less than two days) to make an examination of Powell.
General Hunter then asked if the prosecution had any more testimony to present. Judge Advocate General Holt stated there were still a few witnesses the government wished to call, some regarding the conspirators and others dealing with the general conspiracy of the assassination. Holt then proceeded to call a witness.
Henry G. Edson, a lawyer from St. Albans, Vermont, testified that he had acted as a lawyer in the case of the St. Alban Raiders, a group of Confederate agents who robbed banks in St. Albans, Vermont on October 19, 1864. Edson had represented the bank that the raiders had been robbed. Edson testified that members of the Confederacy’s “Canadian Cabinet” of agents consisting of George Sanders, Clement Clay, William Clearly, and others appeared at the trial of the raiders. The raiders managed to avoid extradition to the United States as the Canadian trial established that they were Confederate soldiers acting under orders. Edson testified that he later overheard George N. Sanders state that he was ignorant of the raiders plot before it occurred but that he had been satisfied with it. Sanders continued to say that the legal success of the raiders would be followed up by the robbing of more banks and the burning of more towns in the North. Sanders implied that they had plans in place to sack and burn towns like Buffalo, Detroit, and New York and that he had hired a law firm in Canada to represent any of their agents who escaped into Canada. This testimony was to show the Confederacy’s embrace of black flag warfare.
John L. Ripple, a first lieutenant with the 39th Illinois Infantry, testified that he had been a prisoner of war at Andersonville prison in Georgia for six months. While at Andersonville he heard two of the Confederate officers in charge of the prison make comments about how, if Lincoln were reelected, he would not live to be inaugurated as they had a party up North that would take care of him and Mr. Seward. Ripple also described the poor conditions he faced at Andersonville which included poor and inadequate food rations and harsh treatment by the officers in charge. He noted that he heard the commandant of the prison, Captain Henry Wirz, say that the conditions faced by the prisoners were, “good enough for you; you should all die.” Ripple stated that he had also heard stories about hounds being used to attack and kill any men who attempted escape from the prison. Henry Wirz, the prison commandant, was already in custody and being held at the Old Capitol Prison in D.C. His trial would begin in August with General Lew Wallace, one of the commissioners in this trial, acting as the president of Wirz’ trial. Wirz was found guilty of war crimes and executed in November of 1865. His body was originally interred alongside those of the four executed conspirators from this trial.
At the conclusion of John Ripple’s testimony, there were no other witnesses in attendance so the court adjourned early at around 1 o’clock.
After the conspirators were returned to their cells, Gen. Hartranft went and removed the padded hoods from David Herold, George Atzerodt, Samuel Arnold, Michael O’Laughlen, and Edman Spangler. Ever since their initial imprisonment on board the ironclad warships, all the male conspirators except Dr. Mudd were forced to wear the hoods while in confinement. After this date, only Lewis Powell was forced to retain his hood while in his cell.
“The Commission met as usual but was not able to transact much business on account the absence of witnesses all the cases are closed except Payne whose Counsel desires to have an opportunity to establish his insanity. We adjourned at one o’clock.”
In 1903, Daniel Eldridge Monroe, the first witness who testified on this date, was interviewed by a reporter regarding his memories of the trial. His recollections were as follows:
“Mr. D. Eldridge Monroe Says He Saw Mrs. Surratt Manacled”
“So much has been written about the assassination of President Lincoln,” said Mr. D. Eldridge Monroe, the well-known lawyer, “that I am disinclined to make further contributions to the literature on the subject, but as it was one of the most dramatic as well as one of the most appalling incidents in the history of the country anything connected with it, however slight, is interesting.”
“I was a witness in the famous trial of the alleged conspirators before the court martial that met in the Arsenal at Washington. I was not summoned. Having met Dr. Samuel Mudd on the Sunday succeeding the assassination and learning from him of his having set Booth’s leg, and believing fully that he was not in the least connected with the alleged conspirators and that all he had done was simply from motives of humanity, I wrote to one of the counsel for the defense, giving my knowledge of the matter and suggesting that I should be summoned. Unfortunately my letter miscarried.”
[Note: Monroe did not state anything in his testimony before the court about having learned from Dr. Mudd that he had set Booth’s broken leg]
“A few days after I drove to Washington and put up my team at a small hotel in Anacostia, went across the bridge and down to the Arsenal. The guard asked, ‘Are you a witness?’ I replied, ‘Yes,’ and was passed into the courtroom, first having to register my name. I was young then; had I been older and of more experience I would not have done so rash a thing. The feeling at that time, as is well known, was intense. Anyone from Southern Maryland was regarded with suspicion. The voluntary coming into the courtroom and alleging I was a witness was rash and extreme.”
“I shall never forget the scene that greeted me. The prisoners were seated along the wall facing the entrance to the courtroom. There was a guard beside every prisoner. There has been a great deal of controversy as to whether or not Mrs. Surratt was shackled. I have refrained from entering into this controversy. As a matter of fact, I can state positively that she was shackled, and, more than this, she was subjected to the most brutal insults from women who, I supposed, were wives and daughters of army officers and who were admitted to the courtroom as spectators. These women, in tones that Mrs. Surratt could not fail to hear, characterized her in the most vulgar terms. One expression among many others I distinctly remember was, ‘Look at that she devil.’ To a woman of refinement as she was such coarseness must have been shocking in the extreme.”
“Many years have passed since then. I believe nearly everybody connected with that famous trial has passed away. Reverdy Johnson, after making a great argument denying the jurisdiction of the court martial, retired from the case. General Ewing, of Ohio, then became the leader in the defense. Judge-Advocate-General Holt, of Kentucky, brusque, self-assertive and pompous, conducted the prosecution.”
At the time this article was written, D. Eldridge Monroe was a widower. It appears that his belief in the late Dr. Mudd’s innocence somehow reached the ears of the widowed Mrs. Mudd and her grown children. In 1906, three years following the publication of this article, D. Eldridge Monroe was asked by Mary “Nettie” Mudd, Dr. Mudd’s youngest daughter, to write the preface to her book about her father’s life.
The eloquent lawyer Monroe wrote a robust preface citing the “victim” that was Dr. Samuel Mudd, describing his hopes, his nobility in face of immense persecution, and his subsequent heroism at Fort Jefferson. Monroe further highlighted the honest and forthright accounting presented by Nettie Mudd, noting that it was upon facts, not comments, that Nettie submitted the case for her father’s innocence. It appears that some sort of romance blossomed between Nettie Mudd and the widower Monroe. On December 12, 1906, Nettie and D. Eldridge were married. Monroe was 61 years old while Nettie was only 28. The two had 4 children together before Monroe’s death in 1914.
“The Commission for the trial of the conspirators adjourned early… giving its members the first Saturday afternoon recreation they have had for four weeks.”
“Payne retains his mental and physical vigor better than any of the others. The officers who come in contact with him uniformly attest the frankness and courtesy of his bearing, but he does not yet resolve the mystery concerning his birth, education and manner of life.”
“The court room was densely crowded this morning, many of the seats designated for reporters being occupied by ladies.”
One of the ladies who was present at the trial of the conspirators was a woman named Julia Digges. She was the daughter of a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates, Daniel Carroll Digges. A trial pass made out to “Miss Julia Digges” is in the collection of the Surratt House Museum. The pass authorizes Digges’ attendance for “June 1865” making it possible that she was one of the ladies who repeatedly attended the trial.
 John F. Hartranft, The Lincoln Assassination Conspirators: Their Confinement and Execution, as Recorded in the Letterbook of John Frederick Hartranft, ed. Edward Steers, Jr. and Harold Holzer (Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 2009), 121.
 Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), June 10, 1865, 2.
 William C. Edwards, ed., The Lincoln Assassination – The Court Transcripts (Self-published: Google Books, 2012), 1106 – 1108.
 Edwards, Court Transcripts, 1108 – 1109.
 Ibid., 1109 – 1110.
 Ibid., 1110 – 1111.
 Ibid., 1111 – 1112.
 Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), June 10, 1865, 2.
 Edwards, Court Transcripts, 1112 – 1113.
 Ibid., 1113 –
 Hartranft, Letterbook, 121.
 August V. Kautz, June 10, 1865 diary entry (Unpublished diary: Library of Congress, August V. Kautz Papers).
 “Odd Tales of the Town,” The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, MD), November 9, 1903, 7.
 Nettie Mudd, The Life of Dr. Samuel Mudd (Washington, D.C.: The Neale Publishing Company, 1906), 12.
 The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, PA), June 12, 1865, 4.
 Boston Daily Advertiser (Boston, MA), June 12, 1865, 1.
 Daily National Republican (Washington, D.C.), June 10, 1865, 2.
 Edwin Stanton, Pass to the Military Commission for Miss Julia Digges, June, 1865 (Surratt House Museum Collection, Clinton, MD).
The drawing of the conspirators as they were seated on the prisoners’ dock on this day was created by artist and historian Jackie Roche.