What if Boston Corbett had not fatally shot Booth?

<< < (2/10) > >>

BoothBuff:
     One more thought on Corbett's action. While I don't believe he shot Booth, if he did, and no one knows for sure, that section 8 may have been a Jack Ruby in my opinion, Randal.  When asked why he did it, he said (as you know) - "Providence directed me."

Randal:
You also make a valid point Joe.
What's great about this forum is, it's, ahem.. a "landfill" for opinions and validations on the Lincoln assassination.

I learn something from it nearly everyday, and thanks to ya'll who provide the opinions ;)

Steven G. Miller:
My dear Booth Buff,

One of the most common misunderstandings about what Sergt. Corbett did and what he said is the claim that he said that "Providence directed me." The usual interpretation of this by most modern writers is that Corbett was, in essence, saying "God told me to shoot him." This is not what Corbett said and not what he meant.

His statement was "Providence directed my hand."

The men at the barn were exhausted, they were likely alternating between an adrenaline high and the anger they felt towards Booth, and they were also fearful that something was going to happen that would enable Booth to get away. (They had seen reb cavalry on the road when the crossed the Rappanhannock, they knew that Jett had been in company with Booth and Herold and a couple of Mosby's men. And, as the first reports of the events at Garrett's barn said, they believed that "rebels were gathering in the woods.")

Corbett, I've argued many times, fired in response to a sudden action by Booth that Corbett perceived as an attempt to fire on Doherty, or L.B. Baker at the barn door. He snapped off a quick shot, intending to wound Booth in the arm, but the bullet went high and hit the armed man in the neck instead. After Booth was dragged outside someone remarked that the shot was in the same location that Booth's bullet hit the president. This was incorrect, of course, as Booth shot Lincoln in the back of the head and Booth's wound was a through and through of his neck.

Nevertheless, this phrase took hold briefly at the barn and several men commented on this at the time. Corbett heard this and it dawned on him -- at the time -- that the flight path of his bullet was not as he intended. He concluded -- AT THE TIME -- that Providence had directed the bullet in a different direction and that He had, ironically, caused the assassin the same wound as Booth had inflicted on Lincoln. This, I believe, is what Corbett (then and there) meant by saying "Providence Directed My Hand",

I believe he had this realization during the prayer session following the shooting. He was a whirlwind of activity in that time, by the way: he helped some other men pull down a wooden fence or wall to keep the fire in the barn from spreading to other buildings, he was the one that informed Lucinda Holloway and one of the Garrett girls who the dying man was, and he was sent by Lieut. Doherty to find a place nearby where about half of the troopers could get something to eat. He stopped and prayed during this last mission. His comment about this was "What a God we serve."

He soon dropped this idea, it appears. It does not come up later and the statements he made. But during those first hours he apparently said that the Almighty had exacted vengeance on the cursed assassin by striking him in the same place as Lincoln, and that He did it by controlling the direction of the bullet from Corbett's revolver. Through the lens of an adrenaline rush, the fear of failure, and the hunger and exhaustion the boys of the Garrett's Farm Patrol first interpreted something that was not the case.

Corbett may still have concluded that God was involved in the capture of the assassin -- he had prayed that God would allow him a part in the expiation of the crime -- but he seems to have realized that the Bullet-in-the-Same-Place notion was not simply true. He did not create this claim, he did not hold this idea for long, and the statement about "Providence" has been blown out of proportion by authors ever since.

BoothBuff:
     Very good, Sir. I stand corrected. Thank you!

Nan:
Quote

Nevertheless, this phrase took hold briefly at the barn and several men commented on this at the time. Corbett heard this and it dawned on him -- at the time -- that the flight path of his bullet was not as he intended. He concluded -- AT THE TIME -- that Providence had directed the bullet in a different direction and that He had, ironically, caused the assassin the same wound as Booth had inflicted on Lincoln. This, I believe, is what Corbett (then and there) meant by saying "Providence Directed My Hand",

Steven - thank you for the very illuminating post on the mind of Corbett.  I always wondered about that "Providence" quote.

Navigation

[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

[*] Previous page