What if Boston Corbett had not fatally shot Booth?

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Rick Smith:
Booth Buff,

Very good points made.

No question it was absolutely possible {and I think, probable} for Booth to have shot himself and to have inflicted the type of wound that he suffered.


     Thank you, Rick. I did read yours and Bill's article on the Suite 101 website (there's some weird stuff there!) and I enjoyed it. My point is, going from Woodward's report,


Case JWB: Was killed April 26, 1865, by a conoidal pistol ball, fired at the distance of a few yards, from a cavalry revolver. The missile perforated the base of the right lamina of the 4th cervical vertebra, fracturing it longitudinally and separating it by a fissure from the spinous process, at the same time fracturing the 5th vertebra through its pedicle, and involving that transverse process. The projectile then transversed the spinal canal almost horizontally but with a slight inclination downward and backward, perforating the cord which was found much torn and discolored with blood (see Specimen 4087 Sect. I AMM). The ball then shattered the bases of the left 4th and 5th laminae, driving bony fragments among the muscles, and made its exit at the left side of the neck, nearly opposite the point of entrance. It avoided the 2nd and 3rd cervical nerves. These facts were determined at autopsy which was made on April 28. Immediately after the reception of the injury, there was very general paralysis. The phrenic nerves performed their function, but the respiration was diaphragmatic, of course, labored and slow. Deglutition was impracticable, and one or two attempts at articulation were unintelligible. Death, from asphyxia, took place about two hours after the reception of the injury.

     The key words there, for me, are downward and backward. That negates anything about Booth having to put the gun in an awkward position. If the ball traveled downward and backward, it had to come from the front. Easy to do. Period.

Rick Smith:

Glad you enjoyed the article. 

Suite 101 is "interesting."  First time I saw it was when our article appeared.

With his elbow raised, pistol butt up, muzzle to his neck, he could have achieved any trajectory he wanted to.

As you said, easy to do, period.


Rick Smith:
Reckon I better make my way to the florist shop.

Maybe the failed immediate death from a possible self inflicted gunshot wound is why Booths reported last words are "Useless, useless."  Maybe he felt that after the assassination, everything he touched was basically a failure.

First he was disappointed that the assassination did not quite go over publicly the way he envisioned.  He was limited in his escape by the broken leg.  Stuck outside for days while waiting for a chance to cross, then failing to get across the first night and losing an additional day at Indian town.  The Jett and Garrett brothers betrayal had to be the icing on the cake.

I still believe he was shot by someone else as that sounds like a very awkward position to hold a pistol and pull the trigger with any finger other than the thumb.

Not sure how accurate the Manhunt version of the story is where it says Booth felt that suicide was the cowards out.

Sadly, we may never know 100%.


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