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Author Topic: What if Boston Corbett had not fatally shot Booth?  (Read 3008 times)
kharv
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« on: May 09, 2012, 04:45:15 PM »

I know most members here are more well read on the subject of the assassination, but I have been wondering lately as to how much information could have possibly been revealed had Corbett just shot Booth somewhere from the waist down.


I know Corbett repeatedly asked to go in the barn and "challenge" Booth himself and each time was denied.


I have not personally read any of the court transcripts, so please excuse what may be silly questions.  But did Corbett testify as to exactly why he aimed as high on Booth as he did?  Surely the thought had to run through his mind that when he felt that Booth was preparing to fire, that he should just aim low to just take Booth down with a non fatal shot.

Not sure how much info Booth would have shared if captured alive and taken back to Washington, so it might not really have mattered.


Just a thought that has been running through my mind lately and was curious as to others opinions and thoughts on the subject.
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Randal
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« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2012, 04:55:02 PM »

I think if Booth was taken alive back to Washington he would have squealed like a pig and ratted everyone out. (he earlier thought he was going to be a hero but with Thomas Jones brought him the news accounts, he saw that people from both sides were horrified) I think he thought if he "pulled it off" successfully and made his escape, he's crow about it from Mexico or Europe, however, if he was caught alive, he'd snitch.
But what do I know? I'm jes' a snake wrangler Wink
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BoothBuff
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« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2012, 06:03:25 PM »

     What Randal said. I've often wondered what he meant by being "abandoned". By the Confederate operatives that promised him ??. This would have been a good Sunday Survey question.
 
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Randal
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« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2012, 06:55:11 PM »

Good point, but I don't think there would have been a Jack Ruby in this particular case. Times were different then, lawlessness (is that a word?) was more prevalent then. (Criminal Codes weren't as broad and many, as today). Code of retribution was "eye for an eye", shootings and hangings were common amongst people. IMO.

Your banking on Ruby's defense that he was saving Mrs. Kennedy the trauma of a trial, (where she would be called as a prosecution witness), but that tactic didn't work for Ruby, and I don't beleive it would work for some prison guard or attendant back then.

However, you make a very valid assumption.
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BoothBuff
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« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2012, 07:02:35 PM »

Quote
What would he have done if taken alive?  To me, it would depend on how frustrated he had become with the Virginians that he had encountered.  Was he frustrated enough to lump all Southerners together and squeal on anyone who had been involved from the CSA?  I don't think so at first. 

     I think Booth was pretty frustrated, Laurie. When he wrote of the "cold hand" that was extended him and the only wrong he saw was "serving a degenerate people", I think he was talking about the Southerners. Am I mistaken? I think he was so disappointed and dejected on his run, that by the end, as usual, the only thing that would have mattered to him was his own hide and reputation.   
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BoothBuff
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« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2012, 07:21:14 PM »

     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."
« Last Edit: May 09, 2012, 07:45:21 PM by BoothBuff » Logged
Randal
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« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2012, 08:23:05 PM »

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 Wink
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Steven G. Miller
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« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2012, 08:04:24 AM »

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.
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BoothBuff
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« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2012, 08:27:08 AM »

     Very good, Sir. I stand corrected. Thank you!
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Nan
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« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2012, 04:19:07 PM »

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.
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Nan
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« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2012, 09:55:35 PM »

     Steven, I've re-read your post again, and it was filled with information that shows how much time you've invested and how well versed you are in the Corbett story. You are an expert, in my opinion, on Corbett. Since I've been a member here, I've formed opinions on matters I'd never had before, changed some opinions on other points, but for the life of me, I just can't wrap my head around the notion that that screwball actually shot Booth.

     I realize it's 72 years old, but Stanley Kimmel makes great points regarding Booth's suicide in the Mad Booth's of Maryland. I feel that Booth shot himself. He told Jett "If they don't kill me, I'll kill myself." The autopsy results stated the ball had a downward trajectory, from the front to the rear. Just what would be expected if Booth shot himself. It was absolutely possible for Booth to use that revolver on himself. He wrote "Don't let me die like a criminal", which he surely would have if he had surrendered. His refusal to surrender and his arrogance and defiance rule out suicide by cop for me. I think after he saw those screaming Yankees jerk Herold from that door, he knew it was over and refused to give them the satisfaction of manhandling and degrading him. Corbett was a mercury addled lunatic. I've never seen a statement by him that he only intended to wound Booth and Booth limped because of his broken leg and that caused the fatal wound. If there is no statement, then that theory is nothing more than speculation. Please unload with both barrels, because this will be a hard sell.     
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Randal
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« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2012, 10:33:45 PM »

Joe,

Read this:
 This is taken from ALOL interview with Blaine Houmes, who by the way, wrote an article with Steve, regarding this.

When Booth is finally confronted, he resists arrest and invites the bullet that took his life. Why do you call this "suicide by cop"?
Dr. Houmes: This situation goes by different names: assisted suicide, victim-precipitated homicide, police-assisted suicide, or suicide by cop, and has been recognized for years. It only started appearing in the police and medical literature in the past 30 years or so. What it means is that under the right conditions, when people are under the influence of drugs or medicines or are psychologically disturbed, they provoke a law enforcement officer to shoot them. It usually happens when someone confronts the officer, who in turn must act to protect his or her own life or others nearby.

We know that John Wilkes Booth did not shoot himself from the work of the late Dr. John Lattimer. His studies compared the autopsy report on Booth with the neck vertebrae removed during the examination. These bones are now in the collection of the National Museum of Health and Medicine, in Washington, D.C. From the angle of the bullet path and the direction of entrance and exit through his neck, it's quite clear that someone else shot him.
 
Booth fits this profile well, especially if you consider his alcohol intake in the last year of his life. He was drinking the night of the assassination in Taltavul's tavern next to Ford's Theatre, just before he went up and shot President Lincoln. If you consider that, and his previous, almost histrionic outbursts with his family and others, as well as how upset he was with the Southern cause and the statements he made to the soldiers at Garrett's farm, it's entirely reasonable to consider this as being probably what happened.


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BoothBuff
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« Reply #12 on: May 13, 2012, 11:06:46 PM »

     Duly noted, Randal, but I still don't buy it. 

     Booth was drinking at Taltavul's, for sure. 12 days before he died.

     
Quote
Booth fits this profile well, especially if you consider his alcohol intake in the last year of his life. He was drinking the night of the assassination in Taltavul's tavern next to Ford's Theatre, just before he went up and shot President Lincoln. If you consider that, and his previous, almost histrionic outbursts with his family and others, as well as how upset he was with the Southern cause and the statements he made to the soldiers at Garrett's farm, it's entirely reasonable to consider this as being probably what happened.

 

     He may fit the profile, but I still don't buy it. His egotistical pride, his statement that I'll do it myself, etc., scream to me he did it himself. His outbursts with his family happened months before he murdered Lincoln. Moot points, in my opinion.

     
Quote
We know that John Wilkes Booth did not shoot himself from the work of the late Dr. John Lattimer.

         I will admit to not being familiar with the exact results of Dr. Lattimer's findings, but didn't he also say it was impossible for Booth to have shot himself? Not so - by a long shot.

         I just can't buy this. Put the 16 oz. gloves on, boys. Nothing is gelling for me yet.   


     
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Randal
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« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2012, 06:11:08 AM »

I'm clueless into why you stated this:

  Booth was drinking at Taltavul's, for sure. 12 days before he died.

So, the witnesses that stated he was drinking  that  night were incorrect?

Booth was a fine and atheltic actor, however I don't think he had the  time  to contort himself, to be able  to to put the pistol to the back of his head for the angle the bullet transversed.

William Richter and Rick Smith wrote a good article regarding this very subject for the Courier this year, and if the poweres that be don't mind, I'll post it on here.

However, the "evidence" that Booth shot himself is, I'm afraid, "underwhelming"
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BoothBuff
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« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2012, 07:28:25 AM »

    I mentioned the 12 days quote from the last paragraph of your post # 12 because I can't see how it matters. I believe he was drinking on the 14th. and may have even been drunk, judging from Crawford's statement, but I've never heard of him drinking at Garretts.
     Unless I'm missing something (it happens to me a lot here), the autopsy report states the ball traveled downward and to the rear. If it entered from the right side or front, it's entirely possible that Booth shot himself.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2012, 05:17:44 PM by BoothBuff » Logged
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