On This Day, April 26, 1865 – Union Troops Track Down and Kill John Wilkes Booth

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1865 – John Wilkes Booth is killed when Union soldiers track him down to a Virginia farm, 12 days after he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.

Twenty-six-year-old Booth was one of the most famous actors in the country when he shot Lincoln during a performance at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C., on the night of April 14. Booth was a Maryland native and a strong supporter of the Confederacy. As the war entered its final stages, Booth hatched a conspiracy to kidnap the president. He enlisted the aid of several associates, but the opportunity never presented itself. After the surrender of Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, Booth changed the plan to a simultaneous assassination of Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State William Seward. Only Lincoln was actually killed, however. Seward was stabbed by Lewis Paine but survived, while the man assigned to kill Johnson did not carry out his assignment.

After shooting Lincoln, Booth jumped to the stage below Lincoln’s box seat. He landed hard, breaking his leg, before escaping to a waiting horse behind the theater. Many in the audience recognized Booth, so the army was soon hot on his trail. Booth and his accomplice, David Herold, made their way across the Anacostia River and headed toward southern Maryland. The pair stopped at Dr. Samuel Mudd’s home, and Mudd treated Booth’s leg. This earned Mudd a life sentence in prison when he was implicated as part of the conspiracy, but the sentence was later commuted. Booth found refuge for several days at the home of Thomas A. Jones, a Confederate agent, before securing a boat to row across the Potomac to Virginia.

After receiving aid from several Confederate sympathizers, Booth’s luck finally ran out. The countryside was swarming with military units looking for Booth, although few shared information since there was a $20,000 reward. While staying at the farm of Richard Garrett, Federal troops arrived on their search but soon rode on. The unsuspecting Garrett allowed his guests to sleep in his barn, but he instructed his son to lock the barn from the outside to prevent the strangers from stealing his horses. A tip led the Union soldiers back to the Garrett farm, where they discovered Booth and Herold in the barn. Herold came out, but Booth refused. The building was set on fire to flush Booth, but he was shot while still inside. He lived for three hours before gazing at his hands, muttering “Useless, useless,” as he died.


1478 – Pazzi conspirators attacked Lorenzo and killed Giuliano de’Medici.

1514 – Copernicus made his first observations of Saturn.

1607 – The British established an American colony at Cape Henry, Virginia. It was the first permanent English establishment in the Western Hemisphere.

1819 – The first Odd Fellows lodge in the U.S. was established in Baltimore, MD.

1865 – Joseph E. Johnston surrendered the Army of Tennessee to Sherman during the American Civil War.

1906 – In Hawaii, motion pictures were shown for the first time.

1921 – Weather broadcasts were heard for the first time on radio in St. Louis, MO.

1929 – First non-stop flight from England to India was completed.

1931 – New York Yankee Lou Gehrig hit a home run but was called out for passing a runner.

1937 – German planes attacked Guernica, Spain, during the Spanish Civil War for the Spanish nationalist government. This raid is considered one of the first to be attacks on a civilian population by a modern air force.

1937 – “LIFE” magazine was printed without the word “LIFE” on the cover.

1941 – An organ was played at a baseball stadium for the first time in Chicago, IL.

1952 – Patty Berg set a new record for major women’s golf competition when she shot a 64 over 18 holes in a tournament in Richmond, CA.

1954 – Grace Kelly was on the cover of “LIFE” magazine.

1968 – Students seized the administration building at Ohio State University.


Chernobyl

1986 – The world’s worst nuclear disaster to date occurred at Chernobyl, in Kiev. Thirty-one people died in the incident and thousands more were exposed to radioactive material.


1998 – Auxiliary Bishop Juan Gerardi Conedera was bludgeoned to death two days after a report he’d compiled on atrocities during Guatemala’s 36-year civil war was made public.

 

Source: History.com; On-This-Day.com