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Author Topic: Did Booth commit suicide in the barn?  (Read 3910 times)
Randal
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« on: January 03, 2012, 06:20:39 AM »

Here is another description that Booth shot himself in the barn at Garrett's. This one comes from Major M.B. Ruggles, who along with Willie Jett and Lt. A.R. Bainbridge accidently ran into Booth and Herold during their flight and helped them cross the Rappahannock.

"Soon after my long conversation with Booth, Bainbridge and myself bade him and Herold good-by and went on our way, remaining that night in the pines, and next day going to Robb’s, where we learned that a company of United States cavalry were scouring the country and had captured the fugitives in Garrett’s barn. Knowing the barn well, and judging from all the circumstances connected with the burning of it, I feel convinced that Sergeant Boston Corbett has a reputation undeserved as the slayer of Mr. Lincoln’s assassin. From the spot where Sergeant Corbett was he could not have seen Booth where he stood, and certainly could not have been able to shoot him in the hack of the head. Having asked Captain Doherty to fall back fifty paces with his men and give him a chance to come out, and very properly and naturally being refused his request by that gallant officer, deserted by Herold, the barn on fire, and seeing that he must perish in the flames or be taken to Washington and hanged, Booth, hopeless, alone, and at bay, placed his pistol to the back of his head, and took his own life. No one saw Corbett fire, and one chamber of Booth’s revolver held in his hand was empty, and I am by no means alone in the belief that he killed himself."

I  know there are naysayers out there, and those who believe that Booth committed suicide, but Ruggles, (if he really knew the barn well), remains convinced.

What say you?

« Last Edit: January 03, 2012, 06:36:40 AM by Randal » Logged

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J Madonna
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« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2012, 07:22:28 AM »

No one saw Corbett fire, and one chamber of Booth’s revolver held in his hand was empty, and I am by no means alone in the belief that he killed himself."


Having one chamber in the revolver empty is not unusual, it was a common practice for safety sake. But the fact that no soldier saw Corbet fire to back his story is disturbing. I don't believe they ever checked Corbett's gun to see if he indeed fired a round either. So after careful deliberation, I'll flip a coin and say suicide.
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Rick Smith
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« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2012, 08:06:11 AM »

Randal,

I tend toward the suicide theory.

Bill Richter & I will very soon be submitting an article to you regarding our views, which differ completely with Dr. Lattimer's.

Rick
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J Madonna
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« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2012, 08:11:24 AM »

Rick,
Looking forward to reading it.
I heard that Dr. Lattimer was damned old Yankee sympathizer.  Wink
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Rick Smith
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« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2012, 08:19:06 AM »

Jerry,

Thanks.

No question; got to watch those Yankees.

Rick
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Rick Smith
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« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2012, 08:43:27 AM »

Laurie,

In the article, we do not make any claims regarding Booth actually committing suicide; I just meant that I personally tend to that theory.

Rick
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Jenny
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« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2012, 08:47:37 AM »

And about the wound:  I still contend that a person deciding to commit suicide via a head wound will either eat his pistol, place it against his temple and fire, or place it under his chin and fire.  He would not have the presence of mind to figure the best trajectory to hit the spinal column with in order to achieve death

That's what has me convinced that Booth probably didn't shoot himself: the placement of the wound. I just don't see someone in his position, as desperate as he was, putting the gun anywhere but where Laurie said.
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wild bill
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« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2012, 09:04:14 AM »

Why don't all you speculators wait and see what we say in the article before pontificating? Patience.

Lattimer was a fine medical man but he was not a pistoleer in the 19th century sense. Rick and I are not the only ones who believe that it COULD be done, but I will not subject another to unfounded accusations--unless he desires to reveal himself.

Our article will appear in the next Occasional Papers with Randal's acceptance. Get your subscriptions in now!

Randal, the paper is in your mailbox as of today.

As to the rest of you--bah! Humbug!!
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J Madonna
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« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2012, 09:41:55 AM »

And about the wound:  I still contend that a person deciding to commit suicide via a head wound will either eat his pistol, place it against his temple and fire, or place it under his chin and fire.  He would not have the presence of mind to figure the best trajectory to hit the spinal column with in order to achieve death

That's what has me convinced that Booth probably didn't shoot himself: the placement of the wound. I just don't see someone in his position, as desperate as he was, putting the gun anywhere but where Laurie said.

Don't forget that Booth was standing on only one leg.
 If it was physically possible for the wound to be self inflicted then you have to consider that fact that perhaps he was intending to put the bullet where Laurie contends but a brief shot of intense pain from his leg caused him to fire prematurely.
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Thomas Thorne
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« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2012, 10:32:11 AM »

  I know that  Roy Chamlee believed that JWB killed himself.  If we classify "suicide by cop" as not suicide can anyone name any prominent Booth expert who believed he shot himself in the Garrett barn excluding persons on this post ?
    Tom
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wild bill
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« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2012, 10:45:45 AM »

Booth expert?--I guess that excludes Rick Smith and/or myself. After all, I just advanced from "newbie" to "jr member"!!
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Thomas Thorne
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« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2012, 10:59:22 AM »

       Wild Bill-anyone IMHO who joins this forum  is a Booth expert. In my clumsy way I was including Jerry,Rick Smith ,yourself and Roy Chamlee in the suicide proponents. By the end of the week I hope to start reading "The Last Confederate Heroes."
      Some Experts are more Expert than others!!!!
    Tom
« Last Edit: January 03, 2012, 11:08:32 AM by Thomas Thorne » Logged
Civil Warrior
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« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2012, 11:36:55 AM »

Oh, come on, please. Dr. John Kingsley Lattimer was, no doubt about it, one of the leading, if not the leading urologists on the planet, but his assassination expertise is another story. After all, it's a known fact that he used his children; daughter Evan and her younger brothers, Douglas Gary and Jon , to demonstrate that it was "easy" for Lee Harvey Oswald to kill JFK, by having them shoot at a stationary target from a two story tall barn/shed. No disrespect intended to the good doctor [The Doc was attending physician to not one, but both of my Grandfathers, one Russian and the other Turkish] but his time-lapse studies based on kiddie kill shots is somewhat suspect.

As for the Mad Hatter, Thomas "Boston" Corbett, a lovely story it is, laddies and lasses, but since Corbett's gun's been lost and never found [yet], unless the Washington, D.C. - Virginia waterways ever dry up or are drained, I'm willing to wager Corbett's revolver is where it's always been residing on some river bed when it was thrown overboard by the Baker boys because my guess is that it was as defective a pistol as Corbett himself. Regardless, Booth died, whether by his own hand or otherwise, because if he'd escaped, lived, survived or whatever, his ego would have never allowed him to live out his life quietly and happily ever after.

However, throwing one more dry tobacco leaf on the fire in the Garrett's barn, what if Booth's gun "accidently" discharged as the normally acrobatic and athletic actor staggered, stumbled, etc. attempting to support himself on a crutch while carrying a carbine in one hand and his death-dealing handgun in the other [which purportedly was missing one round afterwards? Couldn't such a sudden twisting of Booth's torso, as he lost his balance, account for such a shot as well?   Last but not least, has anyone ever asertained if John Wilkes was double-jointed in his shoulders and/or wrists?



« Last Edit: January 10, 2012, 10:44:43 AM by Civil Warrior » Logged
BoothBuff
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« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2012, 11:37:18 AM »

    I know it's not popular here or anywhere else, but I believe Booth shot himself. What I find interesting is Surgeon General Barnes' report that - "The missile passed directly through the canal with a slight inclination downward and to the rear....." The report also states " a conoidal carbine ball entered the right side" but, supposedly, carbine has a line scratched through it and pistol is written above.   I have a reproduction of a Colt Navy revolver. If you cock the hammer and then place the weapon in your hand so it can be pointed toward your neck, you'd have to pull the trigger with your thumb. Doing this, even with a 7 1/2" barrel and an overall length of 13 1/2", is not the least bit difficult or uncomfortable.  

     I find Corbett's version troubling because of his mental illness. No one saw him fire. Upon returning to Washington, he was driven out of his company's quarters by his fellow soldiers who called him a liar. He was forced to sleep in a stable. For whatever reasons they had, they certainly didn't believe him and they were there. I can't remember the reference, but I recall he was only armed with a rifle that night and a pistol was issued to him after the fact.

     The wound itself, although I've seen no thorough description of it, should have been very large had it been made by a carbine. A larger ball, travelling some 30' or so, would have made quite a mess of it's target. No mention of powder burns could be due to the fact it was a hard contact wound and Booth was probably very dirty after several days of living in the outdoors. Lincoln's wound was extremely close and there is no mention of powder burns on him and his clothing didn't catch fire, either.

     Booth supposedly had an unnatural fear of having his face scarred which would coincide with his choice of where to shoot himself. Many factors figure into how a person who has decided to take their own life does so. I've seen many out of the norm of the usual mouth, chin, side of the head scenarios.  I also believe he told Jett or one of that party, that if they didn't kill him, he'd kill himself.

     Good question, Randal and unfortunately I don't think we'll ever know for sure.

     As far as the Yankee comments - I tried to find a link to the Hank Williams, Jr. song "Where Would We Be Without Yankees?", but couldn't. If you can, give it a listen. It's funny. And don't make us come down there again............  
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wild bill
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« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2012, 11:54:21 AM »

Laurie, even YOU could shoot yourself in this manner. You will have to take my word (not worth much among educated people) that the gun curator of the Arizona State Historical Society (they have a tremendous collection) who was 5'8" tall did it without my asking, using a .44 cal Colt's army model 1860 with that long barrel that cause you so much doubt, just to show me how it could be done. If the gun laws in Maryland were not so strict we could have you show all of us how it could be done, theoretically, not in real time. Whether Booth did it is a question like so many others on this forum--unsolvable. The Lincoln Assassination has a ton of these questions, just like JFK's. And one does not have to use one's thumb to do it, although it can be done that way, too.

Now I am not going to write the paper here and ruin its presentation in Occasional Papers. This ends our discussion (Rick Smith's and mine) until after the next issue of OP comes out.
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