by Al Benson Jr.
Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America
The title of this article is the $64 question. To this day it does not seem to have been successfully answered. The answer mainly depends on who you talk to and what their agenda might be. If you talk to some federal operative he is guaranteed to give you the Establishment line–Booth and his friends conspired to kill Lincoln and no one, absolutely no one else was involved at all–unless it might have been the Confederate States. No other suspects need apply as they will not be considered. For those that follow history and its trends, you will recognize this as the same line fed to us about the Kennedy assassination. Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone nut gunman that killed Kennedy, all by his lonesome, and if you dare question this you will be penalized and labeled as a “conspiracy theorist.” Anyone who doubts the official versions of any of these events is automatically a “conspiracy theorist” because we are all supposed to realize that the government’s version of all such events is always, and I emphasize always 100% truthful and accurate! And if you believe that, I still have that bridge in the Arizona desert for sale–the one made out of all gold bricks!
Dave McGowan, in his Why Everything You Think You Know About The Lincoln Assassination Is Wrong has observed: “Dispatched to the Montauk (a federal ironclad) to oversee the identification of the body (of Booth) were such disreputable characters as Surgeon General Barnes, Judge Advocate Joseph Holt, prosecutor/persecutor John Bingham, Stanton underlings Thomas Eckert and Lafayette Baker, and two of Baker’s most trusted men, Luther Baker and Everton Conger. Edwin Stanton had ordered Lafayette Baker and Thomas Eckert to personally intercept the boat carrying the body and clandestinely get it aboard the Montauk.”
He continued: “During the alleged inquest, none of Booth’s peers in the theater community, many of whom were present in Washington at the time, were brought onboard to ID the body. No members of the Booth family were enlisted to view the body. None of Booth’s alleged conspirators, many of whom were being held on the very same ship, were allowed to ID the body.
“According to (the book) Dark Union, ‘thirteen people were permitted to view the body. All but the war photographer Alexander Gardner, his assistant, and a hotel clerk were connected with the War Department.’ If we’re being honest here, that should read, ‘all but possibly the hotel clerk were connected with the War Department’. Even with the government’s handpicked and limited cast of witnesses, there was disagreement as to whether the body was that of Booth. Dr. John Frederick May, who had previously seen Booth as a patient, noted that ‘there is no resemblance in the corpse to Booth, nor can I believe it to be him.’ May added that the corpse ‘looks to me much older, and in appearance much more freckled than he was. I do not recollect that he was at all freckled.’ Dr. May would later write that the corpse’s right limb was greatly contused, and perfectly black from a fracture of one of the long bones.’ Surgeon General Barnes’ report to Stanton, however, held that it was ‘the left leg and foot’ that was injured and ‘encased in an appliance of splints and bandages,’ thus clouding the waters even on such straightforward issues as which of the corpse’s legs was injured.”
After this “identification” sham by War Department employees, with no one close to Booth in life having seen him, and with no photographs of the corpse “that would ever see the light of day” the corpse was summarily disposed of by, possibly Lafayette Baker and Luther Baker.
With no photos or more viewing of the body forthcoming, there are some who honestly felt it was all a big hoax. Some were convinced that Booth was still free, had not even been captured. They may have been closest to the truth. But, then, on the other hand, why wouldn’t you trust your government? You know they never lie to the public don’t you? Well? Next question.
Senator Garrett Davis of Kentucky was one that entertained some doubts. He said: “I have never seen any satisfactory evidence that Booth was killed.” Oh my! Who would ever have guessed that Senator Davis was a conspiracy theorist???
As far as Dr. May’s testimony about thinking it was not Booth, I ran into a bit of a problem at this point. I ran across another site https://rogerjnorton.com that had an article up about John Wilkes Booth’s autopsy. This article stated, in part, “Within a short time, several people who knew Booth personally positively identified the body which was haggered from 12 days of riding, rowing, and hiding in underbrush. One of these people was Dr. John Frederick May. Sometime prior to the assassination, Dr. May had removed a large fibroid tumor from Booth’s neck. Dr. May found a scar from his operation on the corpse’s neck exactly where it should have been.” So it appears we have Dr. May giving two contradictory sets of testimony about “Booth’s” corpse. So which one is accurate?
Stay tuned. More to come.