Dr. Mudd’s Statement on Booth’s Visit

Dr. Mudd’s Statement on Booth’s Visit  (1865) 
by Samuel Alexander Mudd

Source: U.S. National Archives Microcopy M-599, reel 2, frame 1025

Dr. Mudd provided the following statement to detectives investigating the escape of John Wilkes Booth. He made a copy for himself, which may be found at U.S. National Archives Microcopy M-599, reel 5, frame 212. Before Dr. Mudd prepared his statement, Colonel Henry H. Wells drafted a statement for Dr. Mudd’s signature. This draft statement of Colonel Wells may be found at U.S. National Archives Microcopy M-599, reel 5, frame 226. Dr. Mudd thought Wells’ statement inaccurate and didn’t sign it. Instead, Dr. Mudd wrote and signed his own statement.

Bryantown, Md April 21, 1865

Dr. S.A. Mudd, residing four miles north of Bryantown, Maryland, being duly sworn deposes and says:

Last Saturday morning, April 15th, about four o’clock, two men called at my house and knocked very loudly. I was aroused by the noise, and as it was such an unusual thing for persons to knock so loudly, I took the precaution of asking who were there before opening the door. After they had knocked twice more, I opened the door, but before doing so they told me they were two strangers on their way to Washington, that one of their horses had fallen by which one of the men had broken his leg. On opening the door, I found two men, one on a horse led by the other man who had tied his horse to a tree near by. I aided the man in getting off of his horse and into the house, and laid him on a sofa in my parlor. After getting a light, I assisted him in getting upstairs where there were two beds, one of which he took. He seemed to be very much injured in the back, and complained very much of it. I did not see his face at all. He seemed to be tremulous and not inclined to talk, and had his cloak thrown around his head and seemed inclined to sleep, as I thought in order to ease himself, and every now and then he would groan pretty heavily.

I had no proper paste-board for making splints, and went and got an old band-box and made one of it; and as he wanted it done hastily, I hurried more than I otherwise would. He wanted me to fix it up any way, as he said he wanted to get back, or get home and have it done by a regular physician. I then took a piece of the band-box and split it in half, doubled it at right angles, and took some paste and pasted it into a splint. On examination, I found there was a straight fracture of the tibia about two inches above the ankle. My examination was quite short, and I did not find the adjoining bone fractured in any way. I do not regard it a peculiarly painful or dangerous wound; there was nothing resembling a compound fracture. I do not suppose I was more than three-quarters of an hour in making the examination of the wound and applying the splint. He continued still to suffer, and complained of severe pain in the back, especially when being moved. In my opinion, pain in the back may originate from riding; I judge that in this case it originated from the fall and also from riding, as he seemed to be prostrated. He sometimes breathed very shortly as if exhausted.

He was a man, I should suppose about five feet ten inches high, and appeared to be pretty well made, but he had a heavy shawl on all the time. I suppose he would weigh 150 or 160 pounds. His hair was black, and seemed to be somewhat inclined to curl; it was long. He had a pretty full forehead and his skin was fair. He was very pale when I saw him, and appeared as if accustomed to in-door rather than out-door life. I do not know how to describe his skin exactly but I should think he might be classed as dark, and his paleness might be attributed to receiving this injury. I did not observe his hand to see whether it was small or large. I have been shown the photograph of J. Wilkes Booth and I should not think that this was the man from any resemblance to the photograph, but from other causes I have every reason to believe that he is the man whose leg I dressed as above stated.

In order to examine and operate upon his leg, I had occasion to cut his boot longitudinally in front of the instep. It seems that when he left my house, this boot was left behind. Yesterday morning my attention was called to this boot which is a long top-boot. On making an examination of it, I find written on the inside in apparently a German hand, what I take to be “Henry Luz, maker. 445 Broadway, J. Wilkes.” I did not notice the writing in this boot until my attention was called to it by Lieutenant Lovett. [Boot produced and identified by deponent as the one taken from the leg of the wounded man.]

I have seen J. Wilkes Booth. I was introduced to him by Mr. J.C. Thompson, a son-in-law of Dr. William Queen, in November or December last. Mr. Thompson resides with his father-in-law, and his place is about five miles southwesterly from Bryantown, near the lower edge of what is known as Zechiah Swamp. Mr. Thompson told me at the time that Booth was looking out for lands in this neighborhood or in this county, he said he was not very particular where, if he could get such a lot as he wanted, whether it was in Charles, Prince Georges, or Saint Mary’s county; and Booth inquired if I knew any parties in this neighborhood who had any fine horses for sale. I told him there was a neighbor of mine who had some very fine traveling horses, and he said he thought if he could purchase one reasonable he would do so, and would ride up to Washington on him instead of riding in the stage. The next evening he rode to my house and staid with me that night, and the next morning he purchased a rather old horse, but a very fine mover, of Mr. George Gardiner, Sr., who resides but a short distance from my house. I would know the horse if I should see him again. He is a darkish bay horse, not bright bay, with tolerably large head, and had a defect in one eye. Booth gave eighty dollars for the horse. I have never seen Booth since that time to my knowledge until last Saturday morning.

When I assisted the wounded man into my house on Saturday morning last, the other party with him, who appeared to be very youthful, took charge of the horse and said he would keep it and the other one until they could be put in the stable. As soon as I could I woke my colored man Frank Washington, and sent him out to put the horses in the stable, and the young man came into the house. After setting the wounded man’s leg the best I could for the time, I think I walked around to my farm-yard and gave some directions, when I returned breakfast was ready; and as this young man was up and knocking about, I asked him to come to breakfast. He did so, but the other man remained upstairs in bed. I did not know who this young man was, but he remarked that he had seen me. He appeared to be a very fast young man and was very talkative. He was about five feet two or three inches high. I would not be positive as to his height. He had a smooth face and appeared as if he had never shaved; his hair was black, and I should consider his complexion dark. I did not notice his eyes very particularly. He wore a dark-colored business coat. I have seen the photograph of Harold, but I do not recognize it as that of the young man. He seemed to be well acquainted throughout the whole country, and I asked his name; he gave it as Henson, and that of the wounded man as Tyser or Tyson. I did not hear either of them address the other by the first name.

The only thing that excited my suspicion, on reflecting upon these circumstances, was that after breakfast, when I was about to leave for my farm-work, this young man asked me if I had a razor about the house that his friend desired to take a shave, as perhaps he would feel better. I had noticed that the wounded man had whiskers and a moustache when he came into the house. After dinner, I went to see the patient and although he kept his face partly turned away from me I noticed that he had lost his moustache, but still retained his whiskers. I did not pay sufficient attention to his beard to determine whether it was false or natural.

This young man asked me if I could fix up clumsily some crutches for his friend to hobble along with, and I went down to the old Englishman I had there who had a saw and auger, and he and I made a rude pair of crutches out of a piece of plank and sent them to him. This young man mentioned the names of several parties in this neighborhood whom we knew; among others, several here in Bryantown. He mentioned being in the store of William Moore; he did not say when. I think he said he knew Bean, who kept store here; and he knew very well Len Roby, Rufus Roby, & Major James Thomas, Sr. He inquired the way from my house to Bryantown, although he represented in the morning that they had come from Bryantown. He said he knew parson Wilmer, who lives at a place called Piney Church; he also said that they had met two persons, a lady and a gentleman, walking somewhere near Bryantown that morning, and inquired of them the way to my house, and that they also met a negro, but did not state where; & that they also inquired of him the way to my place.

I saw only one of the horses which these men rode to my house. She was a bay mare, moderately long tail, dark mane and tail. I won’t be certain whether she had a star in the forehead or not; she appeared to be a mettlesome, high-spirited animal. I saw her after dinner, between twelve and one o’clock, when this young man and I rode over to my father’s place in order to see if we could get a carriage for the wounded man; but I found that the carriages were all out of repair except one and we could not get that one. He then concluded to go to Bryantown for a conveyance to get his friend over as far as his friend’s Mr. Wilmer’s. I then went down to Mr. Hardy’s, and was in conversation fully an hour when I returned home leisurely, and found the two men were just in the act of leaving. The young man inquired of me the nearest way to Mr. Wilmer’s. I told them there were two ways; one was by the public road leading by Beantown; the other led across the swamp directly across from me, by which they could save a mile; both are easterly. This road from my house is directly across in a strait line; it is not a public way, but by taking down a fence you can get through. They concluded to take this latter route, and I gave them the necessary directions. I did not see them leave my house. The man on crutches had left the house when I got back, and he was some fifty to seventy yards from me when this young man came to me and began to inquire of me the direction. I do not know how or where Booth got a conveyance away from my house; he did not go in a carriage; but he undoubtedly went on horseback.

When they came there in the morning this young man said that one of the horses would not stand without tying and asked that both of them should be put in the stable. He held one of the horses until I returned into the house with the wounded man, when I called a colored boy named Frank Washington and sent him round to take the horses to the stable. I have also a white man named Thomas Davis, who has charge of my horses, and I judge that he saw the horses which were in the stable during Saturday.

I judge that between four and five o’clock on Saturday afternoon they left my house. I do not know where they went; I have not been spoken to by any one for professional advice in their behalf since that time, and have not seen either of them since.

It is about four miles across from my house to Parson Wilmer’s, and by the public road it is about five miles. I suppose they could go in about an hour and a half by walking their horses.

I suppose in a day or two swelling would take place in the wounded man’s leg; there was very little tumefaction in the wound, and I could discover crepitation very distinctly. It would be necessary to dress it again in two or three days if it were left in a recumbent posture, but if moved at a moderate rate, I do not know as it would aggravate it very much unless it was struck by something. I do not know much about wounds of that sort; a military surgeon would know more about those things.

Saml A Mudd

Subscribed and sworn before me this 22nd day of April 1865

H H Wells Col. & P.M. Genl Def. S of P