June 9, 1865

Friday, June 9, 1865

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At around 9:30 am, prior to the opening of the court, the nine members of the commission along with the three members of the prosecution met at Alexander Gardner’s photography studio. The men all sat together for the following photograph (click to enlarge):

After completing their photograph in Gardner’s studio, the commissioners and prosecution made their way to the trial room. While a nice grouping of the twelve men, apparently the commissioners or the prosecution were unhappy with the final result. About a week later, on June 15th, the group had their photographs taken again but this time they chose to patronize Mathew Brady’s studio rather than returning to Gardner’s.

The court convened at 11 o’clock.[1]

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 Frederick Aiken, Walter Cox, William Doster, Thomas Ewing, and Frederick Stone.

Absent: Reverdy Johnson and John Clampitt.

Seating chart:

The prisoners were seated in the same manner as the day before.

The reading of the prior day’s testimony was completed.

Testimony began

Abram B. Olin, an associate justice for the D.C. Supreme Court, was recalled by the defense after previously testifying for the prosecution on May 18th. The day before, William Doster, attorney for George Atzerodt and Lewis Powell, had appealed to the court to force Olin’s attendance as the judge had ignored the summons. Olin was therefore compelled to testify today. Doster asked Olin about his familiarity with prosecution witness Marcus Norton. Norton had claimed to have seen George Atzerodt in conversation with John Wilkes Booth at the National Hotel around the beginning of March. Olin stated that he had lived in Troy, New York for many years and had become familiar with Norton during that time. Judge Olin stated that Norton’s reputation was reasonably bad when it came to truthfulness. He stated that he would not rely on Norton even when he was under oath. During cross-examination, Olin stated that he had no personal or business relationship with Norton at all and that his opinion of Norton’s reputation was based on others who had legal dealings with the lawyer. Olin stated that one of the defense witnessed from yesterday, Henry Burden, was one of the individuals who spoke ill of Norton. Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt then asked Judge Olin if Burden’s reputation as a wealthy and powerful figure and his legal disputes with Norton might not be the true cause of any animosity towards Norton. This question was objected to by Doster but overruled by the court. Olin replied that Burden’s influence certainly had an impact on Norton’s poor reputation, but that he had heard negative things about Norton even before his legal disputes with Burden.[2]

Judge Olin’s testimony marked the end of the defense’s active effort to discredit Marcus Norton’s reputation, though they would aggressively cross-examine the government’s future rebuttal witnesses who tried to revive his credibility. Interestingly, there were additional facts not known to either the prosecution or the defense which also shine some light on Norton’s veracity. Prior to his appearance as a prosecution witness, Norton had spent many years as a patent attorney. Norton claimed that he had invented the handstamp that was used to add the postmark and cancel the stamp on letters sent through the United States Postal Service. It was called the duplex handstamp and saved postmasters from having to stamp a letter twice, once with the postmark and once with the cancellation. However, Norton’s claim of inventing the duplex handstamp is still disputed in stamp collecting circles with some believing Norton merely claimed ownership of another’s idea. According to an article written by philatelist Richard Graham, “Post Office Department officials who had been there for several years were convinced that Norton neither invented the duplex style handstamp nor that he was anything more than an unscrupulous promoter.” The opinion of the defense attorneys that Marcus Norton was untrustworthy is also somewhat supported by Norton’s conduct regarding his duplex handstamp patent with Graham explaining that, “Norton had resorted to chicanery in obtaining his revised patent of 1864 by sneaking a spurious claim into the Patent Office files in 1864 that purported to date from 1854.”[3] While none of this disreputable patent behavior proves that Marcus Norton lied at the conspiracy trial, when taken in combination with his claims of being able to recall fragments of conversations that did not involve him and the continued work of Dr. Mudd’s defense that showed Mudd was not in D.C. during the time Norton claimed, it is very hard to believe much of what Norton testified about.

William Doster, attorney for Lewis Powell, then addressed the court stating that he had read an article in Washington Daily Chronicle which stated that Mrs. M. A. Branson and her daughters Mary and Maggie had been released from the Old Capitol Prison the day before. Maggie Branson had testified on Powell’s behalf on June 2nd. Doster protested that his witness and her family had been imprisoned at the Old Capitol to begin with. Assistant Judge Advocate Henry Burnett replied that the Bransons had been under arrest since shortly after the assassination even while they remained in their home in Baltimore. They were therefore still under arrest when they were brought to Washington to attend the trial. Recently Judge Advocate Joseph Holt recommended they be released and that was what created the notice in the paper. However, Burnett stated that it was his belief that the Bransons were never imprisoned at the Old Capitol Prison during their time in D.C. Doster replied that, if the Bransons had not actually been at the Old Capitol Prison, then he would withdraw his protest, but if they had been placed there he still wanted his protest to be known.[4] It is a bit unclear whether the Bransons were actually held at the Old Capitol Prison as reported yet such accommodations were common for several trial witnesses, especially those under suspicion.[5]

Mary Clare Mudd, Dr. Mudd’s sister, testified about her brother’s whereabouts during the first week of March, 1865. Mary reiterated the earlier testimonies of her sister Fannie and sister-in-law Emily, regarding how Dr. Mudd came to their father’s house during the first week of March in order to tend to her. Mary stated that she had taken ill on March 1, Ash Wednesday, and that her brother came to see her starting on March 2. His daily visits to her continued for about a week. She recounted how Dr. Mudd continued to visit their father’s farm in the days after her illness had ceased because one of the Mudd servants had also become ill. Mary reiterated that, since December of 1864, Dr. Mudd had only been away from his farm overnight three times to her knowledge. These three absences – a party thrown by a neighbor in January, a visit to D.C. on March 22nd – 23rd for a cancelled horse auction, and a horse auction in D.C. on April 11th – had already been testified to by other witnesses. Establishing Dr. Mudd’s presence on his farm on March 2nd and 3rd was to discredit the testimonies of Rev. William Evans and Marcus Norton who claimed to have seen Dr. Mudd in D.C. around those dates. Thomas Ewing, Dr. Mudd’s attorney, also asked Mary some questions regarding John Wilkes Booth’s visit to Charles County in November of 1864 and further facts about supposed Confederate activity around his farm in order to combat the testimony of Mary Simms.[6] Mary Clare Mudd would later marry fellow defense witness Jeremiah Dyer, the brother of Dr. Mudd’s wife, making Jeremiah Dyer Dr. Mudd’s brother-in-law two times over.

John L. Turner, a farmer residing in Prince George’s County, Maryland, was called as a defense witness for Dr. Mudd. Turner was asked about the reputation of prosecution witness Daniel Thomas. Turner stated that while he knew Thomas when he saw him, he had never had any dealings with him in his life. Thomas Ewing, Dr. Mudd’s lawyer, replied that was why he called him as he wanted to know Thomas’ reputation in the community and not a personal view. Turner replied that his reputation was, “not as good as it ought to be,” and that his neighbors didn’t consider Thomas to be truthful. Turner was then asked about the reputation of Dr. George Mudd, and he replied that he always considered George to be a loyal man throughout the war. When asked about Dr. Samuel Mudd, the conspirator, Turner replied he had known Dr. Mudd since the doctor was a boy and that he considered Mudd to be a good, peaceable citizen.[7]

John “Polk” Deakins, a farmer residing in Charles County, Maryland, was called as a defense witness for Dr. Mudd. Deakins stated that he had known prosecution witness Daniel Thomas for as long as he could remember and that Thomas’ reputation in the community was very poor. Deakins stated that he would not believe Daniel Thomas under oath if Thomas had any inducement to lie. When asked about Thomas’ loyalty, Deakins replied that in 1861 Thomas had tried to convince him to go over to Virginia and join the Confederacy. Deakins admitted that Thomas wanted to go and was successful in convincing Deakins to join him but that, in the end, Deakins decided not to join the Confederacy.[8] This testimony continued Thomas Ewing’s attack on Daniel Thomas and his unreliability.

John B. Waters, a farmer in Charles County, Maryland, testified that he knew prosecution witness Daniel Thomas and that Thomas’ reputation in the community was very bad. Waters also testified that he thought he saw Thomas with a handbill regarding the reward money being offered for Booth and his accomplices around April 17th.[9] This testimony supported Thomas Ewing’s attempt to show that Thomas had a financial reason for testifying against Dr. Mudd.

Joseph R. Waters, a Charles County farmer and younger brother of the prior witness, testified that he had known Daniel Thomas since childhood. Waters echoed several of the other defense witnesses in saying he would not believe Daniel Thomas under oath. When asked about Dr. Mudd’s reputation, Waters stated that he had never heard anything against the doctor and had never heard of him aiding the Confederacy in anyway.[10]

Francis “Frank” Ward, a farmer residing in Prince George’s County, Maryland, testified that he had known Daniel Thomas ever since he was a boy. Ward stated that Thomas’ truthfulness was considered very bad in the community and that his politics had been unstable throughout the war. According to Ward, Thomas was sometimes Union and sometimes disloyal. While the prosecution had largely minimized their cross examination of these sort of witnesses from Thomas Ewing, they decided to make a better go at Ward. Assistant Judge Advocate Henry Burnett asked Ward to name a specific person who had told him of Thomas’ poor reputation before the trial began. Ward gave the name of Lemuel Orme as being one person he believed had mentioned Thomas’ poor veracity prior to the trial. Burnett pressed Ward hard on naming more names and giving specific things they had said about Thomas’ reputation. Burnett was a bit aggressive in this, with Ward asserting that he could not name specific names, times or words, only that it was the impression Thomas had in the community at large.[11]

Daniel W. Hawkins, a lawyer in Charles County, Maryland, testified that he had known Daniel Thomas for about ten or fifteen years. Hawkins stated that if he were a juror or a judge he would think it very unsafe to convict anyone on the evidence Thomas provided as he did not trust him to be truthful under oath. Hawkins reiterated his own strong loyalty towards the Union during the war and the unblemished reputation of Dr. George Mudd in terms of his faithfulness to the Union.[12]


At the conclusion of Hawkins’ testimony, the court decided to take its normal one hour recess for lunch. During this time all of the conspirators were returned to their cells. At 2 o’clock, the court reassembled and testimony was resumed.[13] At this point John Clampitt, attorney for Mrs. Surratt, arrived at the court.

Testimony resumed

Honora Fitzpatrick, a lodger at Mary Surratt’s boardinghouse, was recalled by the defense after previously testifying for the prosecution on May 22nd and for the defense on May 25th. Frederick Aiken, Mrs. Surratt’s lawyer, asked Fitzpatrick about Lewis Powell’s arrival and arrest at the Surratt boardinghouse on April 17th. Fitzpatrick had been living at the home when Powell had previously stayed there under the alias of Mr. Wood. Fitzpatrick testified that she did not recognize Powell to be Mr. Wood at the time of his arrest. According to her, it was not until the household and Powell had been taken to General Augur’s office for questioning that she recognized him. Fitzpatrick also stated that she would often thread the needle for Mrs. Surratt when she was sewing because her eyesight was poor. Mrs. Surratt never sewed or read at night or under gaslight as far as Fitzpatrick could remember. Thomas Ewing, Dr. Mudd’s lawyer, asked Fitzpatrick about her familiarity with James Judson Jarboe and Dr. Mudd. Fitzpatrick stated she had only met James Jarboe in prison recently and that she had never heard of Dr. Mudd before the assassination. These questions were to further discredit the testimony of Rev. Evans. During cross examination, the prosecution asked Fitzpatrick about what occurred at General Augur’s office when the household was there with Powell. The government was hoping to get Fitzpatrick to testify that Mrs. Surratt denied knowing Powell at that time, even after Honora, herself, had recognized Powell. Fitzpatrick stated that she did not know what, if anything, Mrs. Surratt said at General Augur’s office. She could only recollect that Anna Surratt denied the man they had arrested was her brother, John Surratt. Fitzpatrick also claimed to have no knowledge of what had occurred in the hallway of the Surratt boardinghouse when Mrs. Surratt first claimed not to have known the man who showed up at her door.[14]

[Elizabeth] Jane Herold, one of David Herold’s sisters, was called as a defense witness for Dr. Mudd after previously testifying for George Atzerodt on May 30th. Thomas Ewing asked Herold about her shared residence near the Navy Yard with her brother. He then asked if Dr. Mudd’s name had ever been spoken of in the Herold household. Jane replied that she had never heard her brother mention Dr. Mudd.[15]

Mary A. Nelson, one of David Herold’s sisters, was likewise called as a defense witness for Dr. Mudd. Nelson reiterated that she had never heard her brother mention the name of Dr. Mudd and that Mudd was completely unknown to the family until his arrest.[16] The point of the two Herold sisters’ testimonies was to establish that there had been no prior connection between David Herold and Dr. Mudd.

William J. Watson, a farmer residing in Prince George’s County, Maryland, was called as a defense witness for Dr. Mudd and testified about a meeting he had with prosecution witness Daniel Thomas. Watson recounted that on June 1st he was visiting with some neighbors including Daniel Thomas. Thomas allegedly told the assembled group that if Dr. Mudd were convicted using the testimony he had given, he would subject to a reward. Thomas stated that he thought his portion of the reward should be $10,000 and that he desired Watson write out a certificate stating his agreement to such a reward since Watson was one of the most loyal men in Prince George’s County. Watson earnestly tried to get Thomas to think about it stating that he did not believe Thomas was entitled to any reward money. Thomas replied that he had heard from another person that lawyer Daniel Hawkins, an earlier witness, had stated he would be entitled to it. In a short time, James Richards, a justice of the peace arrived and was informed of the situation. Richards had previously testified about the exchange on June 6th. Richards made the joke that Thomas was entitled to $20,000 before Thomas realized they were making fun of him. Unlike most of his witnesses against Daniel Thomas, Thomas Ewing did not ask Watson about his opinion of Thomas’ truthfulness. Likely noting this, Assistant Judge Advocate John Bingham asked Watson if he would believe Daniel Thomas under oath. Watson replied that he would even though he noted that Thomas had a fairly bad reputation for truthfulness. Thomas Ewing objected to these questions as they did not fit proper cross-examination. Ewing had asked no questions to Watson regarding his opinion of Thomas and therefore the prosecution was not within their rights to ask such things during a cross-examination. Judge Advocate Joseph Holt did not admit that the cross-examination was improper but stated that Watson was now going to be considered a rebutting prosecution witness, thus clearing up any difficulties with the questioning.[17]

Now considered a prosecution witness, William J. Watson, stated that he had only known Daniel Thomas since 1863 and that he lived four or five miles away. Watson stated that he did not know what Thomas’ reputation was in his home county of Charles County, but that in nearby Prince George’s they spoke evil of him. Watson stated that Thomas had the reputation of telling a good many lies and that his character for truth was bad. When re-asked about him being trusted under oath, Watson stated that he believed Thomas could be trusted when under oath. Watson stated that he thought Thomas lied more in self-praise than anything else and that he had never heard of Thomas telling a lie that made, “a difference between a man and a man.”[18]

John T. Ford, the owner of Ford’s Theatre, was recalled as a defense witness after previously testifying for his employee Edman Spangler on May 31st. Ford testified that Spangler was known for his good nature and kindness. According to Ford, Spangler was never a quarrelsome man and his only vice was the tendency to drink too much on occasion. Ford stated that Spangler was a good, efficient drudge but he lacked self-respect which made it unlikely he would be trusted with the confidence of others. Ford summarized Spangler as a very harmless, esteemed worker who was often the subject of fun by his coworkers.[19]  The purpose of Ford’s testimony was to show that Spangler’s character and lack of zeal would preclude Booth from actively engaging Spangler in his plot.

James E. Russell, a banker and former railroad man, was called as a prosecution witness. Russell resided in Springfield, Massachusetts and stated he had known prosecution witness Lewis F. Bates for about 25 years. Bates had previously testified on May 30th about comments Confederate President Jefferson Davis had allegedly made when he heard the news of Lincoln’s assassination. Russell stated that he never heard anything against Bates’ reputation for truth.[20] Russell’s testimony was brief and some of the newspaper reporters had difficulty hearing him: “[The gabble of the women made the testimony of this witness unintelligible to all except those within a few feet of him.]”[21]

William L. Crane, an Adam’s Express agent, testified that he had known prosecution witness Lewis Bates since 1848. Crane stated that he had never heard anything against Bates’ reputation for truth and integrity.[22] Like with Russell before him, the defense made no cross-examination of Crane, as they did not believe the words of Jefferson Davis after hearing about Lincoln’s death had any bearing on their clients’ cases.

Daniel H. Wilcox, a merchant who formerly resided in Augusta, Georgia, testified that he knew prosecution witness Lewis Bates well for the past two or three years. Wilcox stated that Bates had the best reputation possible and that he occupied a position of great trust and responsibility. According to Wilcox, Bates’ character was without reproach.[23]

Julian “Jules” Soule, a former telegraph operator, testified that he had lived in Columbia, South Carolina until fairly recently and that he had become familiar with Lewis F. Bates during his time there. Soule stated that Bates, “bore the reputation of a truthful and reliable man in every respect.”[24]

Major Thomas T. Eckert, the Chief of the War Department Telegraph Staff, was recalled by the prosecution after previously testifying on May 12, 20, and 22nd. Eckert testified that Lewis Bates had been brought to Washington by the order of the Secretary of War. Eckert was also asked about when General Butler had been ordered to leave New York in November of 1864. Eckert replied that he could not state that without first looking in the record.[25]

William Wheeler, a manufacturer who formerly resided in Troy, New York, was called a rebuttal witness for the prosecution. Wheeler testified that he had known prosecution witness Marcus Norton for about 15 years. According to Wheeler, Norton had a good reputation for truth and honesty and he would have no problem believing him under oath. Wheeler also recounted that Norton had a large legal practice in Troy and that he was employed by respectable clients.[26] Wheeler was the first of several witnesses brought by the government in order to help salvage Marcus Norton’s reputation following Thomas Ewing’s repeated attacks on his character and questionable testimony.

Silas H. Hodges, the Examiner-in-Chief of the U.S. Patent Office, was called as a rebuttal witness for the prosecution. Hodges stated he had known prosecution witness Marcus Norton for about eleven years and that until the last two or three years he had never heard anything against Norton or his reputation. Hodges claimed that the words he had heard against Norton in the last couple of years were based on unhappy persons who had faced litigation from the lawyer Norton. Hodges admitted that he had worked as a lawyer for Norton in cases that elicited a great amount of ill feeling, but that, aside of those cases, he never heard anything against Norton.[27]

Thomas Ewing, lawyer for Dr. Mudd, then presented an agreement to the court that had been agreed to by the Judge Advocate General. The agreement consisted of a statement informing the court that loyal witnesses consisting of John F. Watson, John R. Richardson, and Thomas B. Smith would each testify that prosecution witness Daniel Thomas had a poor reputation in his community and that they would not believe him under oath. In addition, John R. Richardson would further testify in support of the series of events testified to by William Watson, in relation to Daniel Thomas appeal for reward money if Dr. Mudd was convicted. The prosecution agreed to allow this statement of facts be put onto the record in lieu of each one of these witnesses actually taking the stand to testify in person. The court agreed to weigh this statement in the same manner as if the men had spoken about it in open court.[28]

Benjamin W. Gardiner, a farmer residing near Dr. Mudd in Charles County, Maryland, was recalled by the defense after previously testifying on June 5th. Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt reminded the court that during Gardiner’s previous time on the stand the prosecution had objected when the defense attempted to ask him about what Dr. Mudd said at church on April 16th regarding his visitors. Judge Advocate Holt now stated that though he still felt the declarations of the prisoner to be highly irregular testimony, he was willing to allow the statements made by Dr. Mudd on that day to be heard and taken for what they were worth. This seemingly generous move on the prosecution’s part may have had something to do with an exchange that happened during Ewing’s earlier questioning of John L. Turner. When Ewing had asked Turner about the reputation of Dr. George Mudd, Dr. Mudd’s cousin and the one who told the authorities about the suspicious men who had visited his cousin’s farm, Assistant Judge Advocate John Bingham had objected stating that George Mudd’s reputation was not in question here. Ewing replied to this objection by saying that, “Mr. Bingham was standing on small technical ground, that it was true that the prosecution attempted to keep him from proving this, but the court had allowed him (Mr. Ewing) to flank them in the matter of introducing the testimony of Dr. George Mudd as to what Dr. Samuel Mudd had communicated to him.” This related to Dr. George Mudd’s May 29th testimony where Ewing was prevented from having George give the exact words Dr. Mudd had said to him yet still recounted the actions George took as a result of his conversation with his cousin. Ewing successfully got the substance of Dr. Mudd’s words onto the record even without the words themselves which he saw as a victory. Assistant Judge Advocate John Bingham disagreed that the prosecution had allowed the defense to “flank” them in anyway and while he withdrew his objection to asking Turner about George Mudd’s reputation, he suggested Ewing withdraw his remark about flanking them. This resulted in a moment of levity in the court when Thomas Ewing replied, “It was a flank movement, but made in full view of the enemy,” a comment that was greeted with laughter in the courtroom.[29] It appears that during the lunch break some sort of conversation occurred between the Judge Advocates and Thomas Ewing with the decision made to allow Ewing to recall Benjamin Gardiner and Dr. George Mudd so that they might give the words of Dr. Mudd openly. While the practice of allowing the defense to present words of the defendant not originally brought out by the prosecution was against the practice of the day, it appears the prosecution felt this was a better alternative than allowing the court to believe that they had been out flanked and out smarted by the defense on this matter.

Benjamin Gardiner testified that when he arrived at church on April 16th much of the congregation was outside in conversation. Gardiner approached Dr. Mudd and asked him if the news regarding Lincoln’s assassination was true. According to Gardiner, Dr. Mudd said, “Yes, such seems to be the fact.” Dr. Mudd then allegedly said to Gardiner, “Sir, we ought to raise immediately a home guard, and to hunt up all suspicious persons passing through our section of country, and arrest them, and deliver them up to the proper authorities: for there were two suspicious persons at my house yesterday morning.” Gardiner stated that there was much talk about the assassination outside the church but that he could not recall anything else that was specifically said by Dr. Mudd in relation to the assassination or the suspicious men he had mentioned.[30]

Dr. George D. Mudd, Dr. Mudd’s second cousin, was recalled for the defense after previously testifying on May 29th. Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt stated that George’s testimony was going to be allowed in the same way that Benjamin Gardiner’s had just been. George recounted how, after church on April 16th, Dr. Mudd overtook him on the road and informed him that two suspicious persons had been at his house the day before. George recounted the basic facts of Booth and Herold’s stay at the Mudd farm and how Dr. Mudd stated that he treated the man with the broken leg and later went into Bryantown with the other man looking for a carriage. According to Dr. Mudd, the men said they had come from Bryantown and that eventually departed after asking for directions to the home of Parson Wilmer. When Ewing asked George what was said between himself and his cousin regarding alerting the authorities about the men, George stated that when Dr. Mudd arrived at his home, George stated that he would tell the authorities about the men and see if anything could be made of it. Dr. Mudd replied that he would be glad if George did but that he would prefer if George could make arrangement for Dr. Mudd to be sent for as he feared for his life on account of guerillas in the area. George parted with his cousin with under the mutual understanding that he would alert the authorities. George was not quick in his reporting as he spent the remainder of the day dining with Dr. Mudd’s father and visiting one his own sick patients. George did not report the news of Dr. Mudd’s suspicious visitors until the next day. George also testified that his cousin told him one of his visitors had asked for a razor and shaved off either his mustache or his whiskers, significantly altering his appearance.[31] While Dr. George Mudd’s testimony helped to discredit the accusation that Dr. Mudd had tried to conceal the fugitives by denying their presence in his house, it should be noted that nowhere in either of George’s testimonies or his statements does he state that Dr. Mudd explicitly asked him to alert the authorities. Instead, Dr. Mudd merely agreed when George said he was going to tell the authorities. While such a distinction may seem like splitting hairs, it does have some bearing on the commonly held misconception that Dr. Mudd explicitly asked his cousin to tell the soldiers about his visitors and was, therefore, attempting to aid in the capture of Booth.

Charles A. Dana, the Assistant Secretary of War, was recalled by the prosecution after previously testifying on May 20th. Dana was shown Exhibits 2 and 3, which were letters found on a street car in New York in November of 1864. One of the letters, addressed to “Louis” and signed “Charles Selby” describes how the addressee has been assigned the task of killing Lincoln. These letters had been previously testified to on the first day of the trial by Mary Hudspeth. Dana stated that he had received these letters from General Dix shortly after Ms. Hudspeth turned them over. Dana took them to President Lincoln who filed them in his private desk in an envelope labeled “assassination”. Shortly after the assassination, Dana retrieved these letters from Lincoln’s desk. Dana identified General Dix’s handwriting on the explanatory note that had originally been sent with the letters. During cross-examination, Frederick Aiken asked Dana if the War Department had received or collected a great deal of threatening letters from anonymous authors. Dana replied that a good many foolish letters of that sort had been received during the war.[32]

The November 17, 1864 transmittal letter from General John Dix to Charles Dana concerning the Charles Selby and Leenea letters was entered into evidence as Exhibit 85.

After the completion of Charles Dana’s testimony, no other witnesses were present so the court adjourned at around 5 o’clock.[33]


From General Kautz’ diary:

“The Commission met this morning at half past nine at Gardner’s Gallery and had their portraits taken. We were able to call very few witnesses, and did not finish. The weather was intensely warm. We adjourned early…I went to hear Miss Anna Dickinson lecture on the death of President Lincoln. She is quite eloquent but extremely radical and violent in her views. Her face is a marked one and she is possessed of a very good delivery and her ideas are expressed with originality. Still she seems out of place, and would with all probability make an indifferent wife and inexperienced and negligent mother.”[34]

John Clampitt, one of Mary Surratt’s lawyers, later recalled the arduous nature of the trial:

“It will be remembered that the trial was a very long and tedious one, consuming more than two months of the hottest period of that year. Our labors had been very severe — compelled as we were to be in the court-room, which was in the old Arsenal building, formerly the Washington Penitentiary, frequently from ten in the morning until six o’clock at night, watching closely the proceedings in an atmosphere rendered very impure by the crowded condition of the small room, badly ventilated.”[35]

Newspaper Descriptions

“The intense heat of the last two weeks has had very material effect on the prisoners, all of whom …appeared worn and weary and dejected.”[36]

Lewis Powell

“Payne has, it is reported on what seems good authority, made a confession of his share in the whole business. He is giving away such small articles of value as he has remaining.”[37]


“The crowd at the conspirators’ trial continues as large and noisy as ever, the room being daily crowded to suffocation.”[38]

“At two o’clock the Commission was again called to order, the court-room being densely crowded. Among the visitors was Miss Anna Dickinson [again].”[39]

William C. Robinson, a captain with the 34th Illinois Infantry, was stationed in D.C. during part of the trial of the conspirators. He, along with a friend named Davy Chambers, visited the courtroom on June 9th. The following day, Robinson wrote a letter to his younger brother George in which he touched on his visit:

“Yesterday, Davy Chambers and I went down to the Penitentiary to see the prisoners on trial implicated in the assassination. Mrs. Surratt had a very heavy veil before her face, also a fan, so that she couldn’t be seen well. Some of them are villainous looking fellows, while others looked as though they would be incapable of such crimes.

Payne is a powerful man and he must have lacked nerve when he failed in killing Mr. Seward. He looks like an overgrown boy of 19 years, and I believe his counsel are trying to prove him insane – but his appearance would hardly indicate insanity.

The court room was crowded with visitors – and intensely hot, so we stayed but a half hour and during that time only one witness was examined whose testimony seemed to be in Dr. Mudd’s defense. As the trial is nearly through, we will soon know what their fate will be.”[40]

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[1] 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), 120.
[2] William C. Edwards, ed., The Lincoln Assassination – The Court Transcripts (Self-published: Google Books, 2012), 1074 – 1077.
[3] Richard B. Graham, “Duplex Handstamps, Marcus P. Norton and the Patent Cancels of the 1860s,” The Chronicle of the U.S Classic Postal Issues 45, No. 4, Nov. (1993): 249.
[4] Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), June 9, 1865, 2.
[5] Betty J. Ownsbey, Alias “Paine”: Lewis Thornton Powell, the Mystery Man of the Lincoln Conspiracy, Second Edition (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2015), 176.
[6] Edwards, Court Transcripts, 1077 – 1080.
[7] Ibid., 1080 – 1082.
[8] Ibid., 1082 – 1083.
[9] Ibid., 1083 – 1084.
[10] Ibid., 1084 – 1085.
[11] Ibid., 1085 – 1087.
[12] Ibid., 1087 – 1088.
[13] Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), June 9, 1865, 2.
[14] Edwards, Court Transcripts, 1088 – 1090.
[15] Ibid., 1090.
[16] Ibid., 1090 – 1091.
[17] Ibid., 1091 – 1093.
[18] Ibid., 1093 – 1094.
[19] Ibid., 1094 – 1095.
[20] Ibid., 1095.
[21] Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), June 9, 1865, 2.
[22] Edwards, Court Transcripts, 1095 – 1096.
[23] Ibid., 1096.
[24] Ibid., 1096 – 1097.
[25] Ibid., 1097.
[26] Ibid., 1097 – 1100.
[27] Ibid., 1100 – 1101.
[28] Ibid., 1101.
[29] Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), June 9, 1865, 2.
[30] Edwards, Court Transcripts, 1101 – 1103.
[31] Ibid., 1103 – 1105.
[32] Ibid., 1105 – 1106.
[33] Hartranft, Letterbook, 120.
[34] August V. Kautz, June 9, 1865 diary entry (Unpublished diary: Library of Congress, August V. Kautz Papers).
[35] John W. Clampitt, “The Trial of Mrs. Surratt,” North American Review 131 (September 1880): 231.
[36] Boston Daily Advertiser (Boston, MA), June 12, 1865, 1.
[37] Boston Daily Advertiser (Boston, MA), June 10, 1865, 1.
[38] Boston Daily Advertiser (Boston, MA), June 10, 1865, 1.
[39] Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), June 9, 1865, 2.
[40] William C. Robinson to George M. Robinson, June 10, 1865 (Letter: Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, Louise and Barry Taper Collection).
The drawing of the conspirators as they were seated on the prisoners’ dock on this day was created by artist and historian Jackie Roche.

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