More About The Corpse In Garrett’s Tobacco Barn

by Al Benson Jr.

Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America
The book The Assassination of Lincoln–History and Myth  by Lloyd Lewis, originally published by Harcourt Brace & Co. back in 1929 and republished in 1994 had this to say. ‘The tale had fattened so rapidly by July, 1867, that Dr. John Frederick May, who had identified the body at the Montauk inquest, felt it necessary to make emphatic denial that he could have been wrong when he said, ‘That man is Booth.’ Dr. May, who had been leisurely enough about obeying Stanton’s order to aid in the autopsy back in 1865–it took two commands to bring the surgeon aboard the ironclad–was now quick to fight the whispers of suspicion. But the very form of his testimony now added to the suspicion rather than cleared it up. Some two years before the assassination of Lincoln, the doctor said, he had cut a tumor from the back of Booth’s neck,warning him to keep off the state until the wound healed…Under Dr. May’s care it healed, but left a large and jagged scar and it was for this mark of his scalpel that the surgeon was to hunt upon the corpse as it lay upon the Montauk. ‘The cover was removed from the body,’ said May, in tellling of his experience, ‘and to my great astonishment revealed a body in whose lineaments there was to me no resemblance of the man I had known in life. My surprise was so great that I at once said to General Barnes…There is no resemblance to Booth, nor can I believe it to be that of him.’ After looking at it a few moments I asked, ‘Is there a scar upon the back of his neck?’ He replied ‘There is!’ May finally said he could “imperfectly recognize the features of Booth. But never in a human being had a greater change taken place, from the man I had seen in the vigor of health and life to that of the haggard corpse before me.” And later on discussing his examination of the right leg of the corpse that lay before him on the Montauk, he said it was the right leg that had been broken.

Lewis noted that: “Now, by the word of the government itself, it was the left leg that Booth had broken in his jump from the theater-box on the night of the murder, and for the surgeon to note that the mysterious body had a broken right leg either proved one or the other of two things, the skeptics said: it proved that the body was not Booth’s at all, or it proved that Dr. May was too careless an observer to be credited with any authority in the matter of the scarred neck.”

So the water is still muddy! By the same token, there were doubters regarding what David Herold said when he got out of the burning barn. Lewis noted: “Herold had told Lieutenant Doherty that he didn’t know who his bed-fellow was. ‘He said his name was Boyd,’ Davy added.” According to his captors, Herold supposedly broke down on the way back to Washington and told them that his companion had really been Booth. Maybe. But if you look at the reputations of some of those that captured him–Lafayette Baker being a prime example, you really have to wonder if Herold may have been “persuaded” to change his story about who was in the barn with him. After all, there were thousands of dollars in reward money at stake here, so the feds wanted to make sure they got the “right person” (even if they didn’t).

In February, 1869 government employees dug up the body that was supposed to be Booth. President Johnson decided to allow Booth’s family to bury the “disputed corpse” in the family burial plot. Edwin Booth could not bring himself to look at the body. Supposedly, friends acted in his behalf to examine the body. It was reported that the body was that of John Wilkes Booth, but who the family friends were and what they discovered for proof was never revealed to the public. It was also announced that Booth’s dentist had identified the body by certain fillings in some of his teeth, but who the dentist was remained a state secret.

Lewis also stated that: “To make matters more perplexing, the Baltimore Gazette was soon claiming that one of its reporters had been present at the exhumation and had noted that the body had a broken right leg and that no bullet wound was visible upon it. This reporter denied one of General Baker’s assertions, made in 1867, namely, that army surgeons had removed from the dead Booth’s neck vertebrae which had been shattered by the Union bullet. No vertebrae were missing in this exhumed corpse, said the newspaper man.”

So we are left with a choice here. We can believe the government’s version or we can believe the media’s version. I have to submit that’s one lousy choice. It’s akin to looking at two professional liars and trying to figure out which one is the biggest liar. Although I don’t see that we can know for sure, I’d probably go with the government (as the biggest liar).

One thing about this situation that’s for sure–no one has really ever told us any real truth about what went down. But then, we aren’t supposed to know that anyway. That way we can’t ask all the wrong questions.


So Who Was The Corpse In Garrett’s Tobacco Barn?

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 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.

A Few Questions About The Lincoln Assassination That Should Be Asked

by Al Benson Jr.

Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America

There are many questions that can be asked about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and most of them probably won’t be. Either they will not be thought of, or most of those who write about this event will seek to direct the questions into other areas that will fail to deal with events that should be dealt with in order to focus on the Establishment version of this history. It’s sort of like the Warren Commission Report on the Kennedy assassination. Thinking people realize the Warren Commission Report is a croc, to put it bluntly, but it is still the “official version” of what is supposed to have happened and so it is what all the court historians refer everyone to. They realize it’s all baloney. What they hope for is that you don’t. Same with the Lincoln assassination. The “official version” has lots of problems but we are all directed to it anyway in the hope we will be too stupid to know what questions to ask.

But questions have been asked. Some of them I had never thought of. Dave McGowan, who has authored the excellent series of articles Why Everything You Think You Know About The Lincoln Assassination Is Wrong  has asked some of them.

For instance, he has questioned why Booth even used the weapon he did. I have never seen this questioned before, but McGowan questions it. He notes: “…after the passage of 149 years, it doesn’t appear that anyone has ever thought to question why Booth, an intelligent and educated man by all accounts, would choose such a riduculous weapon to take with him on his mission…The President is under armed guard, or at least he’s supposed to be. He’s also supposed to be in the company of General Ulysses S. Grant, who is known to always be armed. Of course, Grant has fortuitously opted to get the hell out of Dodge just hours before he was to have accompanied the Lincolns to the theater, but you shouldn’t have any way of knowing that, just as you shouldn’t have any way of knowing that Parker (the guard) will desert his post…” So, if you are Booth, “…you have to assume that you’re going to have to get past at least two armed attendants, and probably more, to get to the President. And you’re going to have to do that without firing a shot, since you only have one and you will need to save that for Abe. And since the only realistic chance you have of actually killing Lincoln with your wildly inaccurate weapon is by sneaking up behind him and delivering a contact wound to the head, you’re going to have to get past any guards without making any noise. And since Grant is also on the hit list, you’re going to have to kill him as well, which I guess you’ll have to do by bludgeoning him with your empty gun. That should work out pretty well.” Given what Booth is supposed to have known, does anyone see how ridiculous this is? Has anyone even thought of this besides McGowan? I hadn’t.

However, given the situation that Booth is supposed to have known about, him taking that little one-shot Derringer to do the deed makes almost no sense at all. Anyone with his wits about him at all would have wanted some kind of repeating pistol to go in with. And there were pocket pistols in those days he could have used. Admittedly they were bigger than a Derringer but they would still have fit in his coat pocket.

McGowan, as if talking to Booth, states: “…you have set a very ambitious goal for yourself. You must first get to the president, who is sitting in a private box in a crowded theater with at least two armed attendants. You must then kill the president with a single shot, because your weapon doesn’t allow for second chances, and also somehow kill General Grant. You must then, in an unarmed state, make an escape first from the theater and then from the city, and you must get past an armed guard at the bridge. And you have to do all that with just one bullet. It’s hard to see how anything could go wrong with such a brilliant plan.” You have to give McGowan credit for a rather dry sense of humor. But he continues: “There are other weapons available. Weapons better suited to your mission. And as an alleged Southern operative, you should surely know that.” But, is Booth the “alleged Southern operative” we have been told he is and does he know this? A Southern sympathizer, no doubt, but does that translate into an “operative”?

So you have to wonder why Booth went in with a single-shot Derringer, given the supposed circumstances. Or did he know more than we think he knew and if so, who told him?

McGowan also wonders why Booth did not disguise himself. He would have had to know that once identified his acting career would have been at and end. He noted that actors in those days often traveled with trunks full of disguises for the different parts they might play. He observes of Booth that “You could easily don a convincing disguise so as not to be easily recognized/ Then you don’t have to worry about getting out of the city alive; all you have to do is make it out of the theater, quickly ditch the disguise, and then you can circle around and rejoin the crowd at Ford’s without arousing any suspicion at all.” Yet this is not what happens.

You also have to wonder who planned the scenario that took place. It almost sounds like, the way it was planned, John Wilkes Booth was hung out to dry and didn’t realize it. Over the years as I have read about this I have had the feeling that there were lots more people involved than John Wilkes Booth and his merry little band of misfits.

McGowan asks questions I’ve not seen asked before. Theodore Roscoe asks questions no one else had dealt with. A couple years ago I read Bill O’Reilly’s book about the Lincoln assassination. O’Reilly broke no new ground. He just regurgitated the Establishment line and asked no questions the Establishment would not have wanted asked. Somehow, that doesn’t satisfy. It may be fun reading for those who don’t really want to learn anything. Real history seldom works that way and it didn’t with the Lincoln assassination and its aftermath either.

The Federal Reluctance to Bother John Surratt

by Al Benson Jr.
Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America

There are several anomalies regarding the Lincoln assassination and its aftermath that have not been resolved even to this day. For those folks who like to see all situations all neatly tied up with a nice big red bow, the Lincoln assassination and its environs is not your cup of tea. Too many unresolved situations and unanswered questions, which leads one to believe that not all is as it seems or as it should be.
For instance, there is the situation with John Surratt, one of the Lincoln conspirators and the apparant federal apathy toward doing anything about him after the assassination.

The feds were gung ho to pursue the other alledged conspirators, even to the point of hanging four of them, one of those four being John’s mother, whom I have long maintained was innocent of any wrongdoing in the assassination. I have not doubted that she knew of the plot to kidnap Lincoln but I have doubted, based on what I have read over the years, that she was a guilty party in the assassination attempt. The feds made sure she hung anyway–in what I feel was a travesty of justice. But, then, what else is new at the federal level?

In researching for these articles I came across a treasure-trove site at This site contains a series of articles by Dave McGowan, written in 2014. There are twelve articles in Mr. McGowan’s series. He has really gone into the Lincoln assassination and its aftermath. His series is entitled Why Everything You Think You Know About The Lincoln Assassination Is Wrong. I hope to cover some of this in the next few articles. I have been told Mr. McGowan is now deceased, but in these articles he left a body of work that needs to be checked out. I hope my readers will get into some of it and go beyond what I write about it.

Mr. McGowan quotes Theodore Roscoe in The Web of Conspiracy  where Mr. Roscoe says: “Official records on John Harrison Surratt Jr., are similarly devoid of depth…He passes through Washington like a shadow. His appearances in the house of H Street are shadowy. Now he is glimpsed in Richmond. Next he is glimpsed in Canada. The authorities can never quite lay their hands on him, and neither can the historians. Of the immediate members of Booth’s coterie, least is known about John Harrison Surratt Jr.”

McGowan notes that Surratt had become an operative in the Secret Service of the Confederate States. And McGowan comments on this: “Maybe so. It seems far more likely though, given various facts of the case, that he was actually a Union operative posing as a Confederate operative. Or that the two ‘sides’ were actually one and the same, as seems likely.” McGowan is treading in new territory here and at a new depth that maybe needs to be checked out.

It is observed by McGowan that Surratt “…was the only one not to be captured or killed in the massive manhunt that followed the assassination. He quickly made his way to Canada, where he found sanctuary with a Catholic priest during the time his mother was being tried, sentenced and hanged. He left Canada in early September, some two months after the executions had been carried out. From that point on, the US government appears to have been well aware of his movements and whereabouts.” In March of 1867 the Washington Daily Morning Chronicle  noted an investigation by the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives into Surratt’s wanderings. It stated: “It appears that Surratt sailed from Canada in September 1865, and landed in Liverpool on the 27th of the same month; that the fact of his landing was communicated to Secretary Seward by the American vice consul, Mr. Wilding. No steps were taken by the President or Secretary of State to secure his arrest. No demand was made upon England for his return to this country, nor is there any evidence of the procurement or attempted procurement of any indictment against him. Surratt himself would later say that, ‘While I was in London, Liverpool and Birmingham, our consuls at those ports knew who I was and advised our State Department of my whereabouts, but nothing was done.’ Curious behavior indeed for a government that had, just months earlier, aggressively prosecuted and executed lesser conspirators.” Curious behavior indeed.

Even more curious was the fact that, in November, 1865, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton withdrew the standing reward on Surratt’s head. This sent a signal, in Europe and elsewhere that the US government just wasn’t all that concerned about capturing Surratt. Stanton never offered any explanation for this action. But then, there are lots of things Stanton never offered any explanation for. Surratt left England in 1866 and sailed to Italy, where he managed to land a spot in the Papal Zouave military guard. Did the Americans know where he had gone? Of course they did. A Cardinal Antonelli explained at one point that: “if the American government desired the surrender of the criminal there would be no difficulty in the way.” McGowan noted that “The US government, nevertheless, chose to look the other way.”

So you have to wonder what the deal was. The US government obviously had no interest whatever in grabbing John Surratt–after hanging his mother. Such inaction on the part of US officials might well lend credence to McGowan’s claim that Surratt might have been a Union operative posing as a Confederate operative. The feds didn’t bother him because they didn’t need to. They already knew where he was coming from and he couldn’t tell them anything they didn’t already know, so why bother?

McGowan makes observations in this series of articles that probably have never really been dealt with, so maybe we do need to go back into some of what he said and study it some more. The whole War of Northern Aggression and all events related to it changed our country into something entirely different than what the Founders had in mind. There is much talk about in our day, how the attempted coup against Donald Trump has failed. Let us hope that ends up being the case. But in 1860 with Lincoln there was a coup designed to change our government, culture and way of life. That coup did not fail and we live with the results of its success today, unfortunately!

So Who IS Buried In John Wilkes Booth’s Grave?

by Al Benson Jr.

Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America

I watched an interesting segment on the site on April 29th dealing with some history I had written about somewhere in the distant past. It was narrated by David Knight. I have always enjoyed watching David Knight’s commentary. He is a Christian man who is not ashamed of his faith and he lets you know that in a quiet, humble way.

His commentary on April 29th dealt, in part, with the fact that it does seem that we have been lied to for the past 150 years about whether Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth was really killed at Garrett’s Farm in Virginia and buried in the grave that, supposedly, contains his remains.

It would seem now that this may not be the case. Years ago, back in the 1990s, some in the Booth family were concerned about this and they went to court to get permission  to have Booth’s body exhumed so DNA testing could be done to prove whether it was Booth or someone else buried there. The court refused their request and the cemetery did not want to be bothered either. Just too much trouble to go into all that. The “history” books have all been written and generations of kids have all learned the way it was supposed to have been, so why change all that now and upset the Establishment apple cart that has trundled  along unimpeded for over 150 years?

If the question were raised and it was proven, somehow, that Booth was not buried where he was supposed to have been, then the questions arise–how did that happen? If Booth is not there then who is? If so, what happened to Booth. If he somehow escaped, then who aided him? And why?

There have been stories on the internet over the years about Booth having escaped and lived out his life quietly in other places. I’ve read several of them.

Since DNA evidence does not seem to be an option, thanks to some judge, other methods need to be employed. It seems like they now have a new technology called “facial recognition technology” which can view pictures of someone taken at different stages  of life, youth, old age or whatever, and they can prove from this whether the pictures taken in youth or old age are the same person or not. It seems there are certain facial features that do not change no matter how old you get.

Apparently this technique has been used in court cases to identify people they are not sure about and there has been a ruling in court that if a person’s picture comes within a 5% possibility of being the person in question, that is admissible evidence of identification. I am probably not explaining it quite right, but you get the idea.

They have a photograph of a David George from Enid, Oklahoma, taken in 1902, the year he died. He claimed before he died that he was John Wilkes Booth. I read about this several years ago and all the court historians claimed it was nothing but a “conspiracy theory.” Now all of a sudden, this new facial recognition technology has come along and they have used it on both John Wilkes Booth’s and David George’s photos–Booth’s when he was 27, back in 1865 and George’s when he was 64 in 1902. According to the results there is only a 1% chance that Mr. George was not the long supposed dead Lincoln assassin.

If this is accurate, and as of now, it does seem to be, then, again, it raises lots of questions.

For years after the War of Northern Aggression there was a campaign afoot to blame the South for Lincoln’s death. They tried to tie Jeff Davis to it as part of their attempt to try him for treason. That fell through, much like the Russian Collusion delusion regarding Donald Trump. Same people involved–spiritual ancestors for Lincoln and spiritual descendants for Trump. You see, there was a version of the Deep State around in the 1860s–and before. They just didn’t call it that then.

Over the years I have read books picked up at used book stores that claimed people in Lincoln’s own government were responsible for his assassination. In this vein I read Otto Eisenschiml’s thought provoking book Why Was Lincoln Murdered? and one by Theodore Roscoe called Web of Conspiracy which, amazingly enough, is still available on Amazon.  I also read one calld The Lincoln Conspiracy and this one noted that Booth had not been killed but rather a look alike, James William Boyd, had been killed and buried as Booth. If you look at photos of Booth and Boyd, even though  Boyd was a little older, there is definitely a resemblance. All these books put forth the very distinct possibility that Edwin Stanton and others, both inside and outside the Lincoln administration were responsible for Lincoln’s death.

I also read one by Eisenschiml called Historian Without an Armchair which dealt somewhat with Booth. On page 183 there is an interesting quote about Lincoln’s last speech. It says: “On that occasion the President had promulgated his policy to restore to the Southern states their political rights. This would have cost the Radicals all the fruits of the Northern victory. Outnumbered and outvoted, they would have sunk to the status of a minority party. Lincoln’s last speech was his death sentence, Gilchrist concluded, and to him the general outline of Booth’s connection with the murder  plot also appeared plain. The actor’s frustrated attempts to kidnap the President on or about the 20th of March was known to Stanton and the radicals by the disclosures of Louis Weichmann, one of Booth’s group,  and they could have arrested all the conspirators at any time; but Booth was given a chance to avoid punishment, provided he agreed  to execute the murder plot. This threat would explain his cooperation with men with whom he had nothing in common, and the protection afforded him during his flight. It also accentuated the necessity of having him killed in case he was captured.” It now appears that, with his escape, that was not a dire necessity.

Eisenschiml’s comment about the protection afforded Booth during his flight should also raise questions. We know that the Navy Yard Bridge was left open after Lincoln’s assassination so that Booth could escape over into Maryland–when everything else in Washington had been shut down.

So more questions about some of our rather dubious “history” need to be raised again about all of this in light of the information that the man in Enid, Oklahoma, David George, who died in 1902 could well be John Wilkes Booth.