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Author Topic: Would Grant's presence have made a difference?  (Read 1465 times)
BoothBuff
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« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2012, 06:48:39 AM »

     I agree, Rob. The story about Booth and the Grant's carriage on the 14th., I believe actually has him turning his horse around and galloping back towards it. If he wasn't confronted after something as obvious as that, I can't see too many people around Grant.

     I don't see any difference in the whole plan if Grant was with Lincoln at Ford's, either. If Booth entered Ford's around 9:30, that wouldn't give him a whole lot of time to call the whole thing off. He entered from the back alley, went under the stage and out to the bar. I've never seen any mention that he entered the house to get a good look at just who was seated near the box. He supposedly looked at the house from the rear of the parquette before taking the stairs to the dress circle level, but that's the lower level. Once in the dress circle, it was too late to back out I believe. Had Grant been there, Booth may have made a little more effort to dispatch him than he did with Rathbone, as Rathbone was just a hindrance, not a target.

     Also, as has been mentioned here before, if Booth was armed with more than the Deringer, plan "B" may have been to unload a round or two on Grant.
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Roger Norton
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« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2012, 06:54:56 AM »

I find it hard to believe that a duty officer was not present with Grant at all times.  

Tom, in Julia Grant's memoirs there is mention of Daniel Rucker's wife being with them when Booth approached the carriage but no mention of a duty officer. I would think a duty officer would have reacted to Booth's obvious harassment.

HOWEVER, no footnotes of course, but Jim Bishop writes, "Two cavalrymen rode behind the carriage." (p. 166)
« Last Edit: June 13, 2012, 03:07:04 PM by Roger Norton » Logged
Rob Wick
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« Reply #17 on: June 13, 2012, 10:05:47 AM »

Of course, Grant had a number of staff and aides who might have been with him at any time, even on a night out on the town, and who likely carried some type of sidearm, but where the distinction comes in is the presence of a bodyguard, someone whose only purpose is to provide protection. I don't see where any of Grant's aides would have fit into that category, nor do I believe the ever-reticent Grant would have allowed one to follow him.

Also, has anyone ever done a count of just how many soldiers were in Ford's Theater at the time of the murder? Many were probably armed (as I'm sure were some civilians), but yet no one had the presence of mind to draw it out and challenge Booth after the assassination took place.

The more I think about this, the more I'm convinced that given the nature of our country at the time in terms of security and presidential assassination, nothing would have stopped Booth. Had Grant been there, we definitely would be studying the murder of the president and the attack on Grant, and quite possibly we would be studying the murder of both men.

Best
Rob
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BoothBuff
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« Reply #18 on: June 13, 2012, 10:42:57 AM »

     No matter how many men were armed, I think this just happened too fast and was too confusing. Someone said after Booth hit the stage, he was outside before you could count 10.  Unless someone in Booth's path was armed and aware of what had just happened, getting shot was the least of his worries.
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jonathan
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« Reply #19 on: June 13, 2012, 12:08:11 PM »

As I said in an earlier post, seems like the only way Grant's presence would have prevented the assassination would be if he was accompanied by aides/guards who either stopped Booth from entering the box or unarmed him before allowing him to enter. I don't think either of these things would have happened. I don't believe they would have been aware of any reason to suspect Booth of foul play would they? I think once Booth was in the box, it was a done deal, even if Grant did have someone in there with him. I think Lincoln's best chance that night would have been if Booth's gun misfired.
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John Stanton
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« Reply #20 on: June 13, 2012, 03:23:13 PM »

In all this discussion, there has been no mention of "What might have happened if the Predident and Grant were in the Box together, as planned, and TWO assassins showed - together or separately?" Actually, there was an assassin assigned to each.
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Joe Gleason
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« Reply #21 on: June 13, 2012, 04:56:10 PM »

I vote maybe.  Grin  This statement by J. H. Barlow is interesting.

                 April 24, 1865 The Evidence pg. 119

                                That he knows John Surratt very well indeed; Think I saw Mr. Surratt on Monday or Tuesday. I am not positively
                                sure which. Saw him at the corner of 6th & C Street. He was passing the corner; I bowed to him and he came up
                                and shook hands with me. He said he wanted a horse to go down to his place about 10 miles down the country. I
                                saw David Herold on Thursday night before the murder. He said he wanted to see John Surratt and asked me if I
                                had seen him & I told him I had not. Said he, "I'm going up to the Kirkwood House to find him. If he is not there
                                I want to see you." Said I, "If you want to see me you will have to come up to the Lichau House and there you will
                                find me." He said Booth was a 'bully fellow" Have met Surratt frequently traveling through the country with a man
                                named Wm. Norton.


...just sayin   Smiley
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John Stanton
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« Reply #22 on: June 13, 2012, 06:34:14 PM »

If anyone knows anything about the William Norton just mentioned, please start another Post and I will tell you about a "William Norton" who was a Spy for the Confederacy and wotked in the front Office of the U.S. Secret Servive, under L. C. Baker.
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kharv
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« Reply #23 on: June 13, 2012, 06:44:02 PM »

There is also another possibility that entered my brain...perhaps a little off the wall...but still remotely possible. I do not know how long Julia Grant and Mary Lincoln could have sat together in the small box without a verbal altercation starting up. Certainly their past history indicates a strong dislike of each other. If the two started fighting and saying nasty things to each other possibly the whole group would have decided to leave the play early, and the Presidential Box would have been empty when Booth arrived.


If the Grants had been there that evening, Lincoln and Grant may have sat next to each other with the wives sitting at opposite ends of each other (ie Mary sitting to Lincolns left instead of right) to help ward off a possible altercation.

Then again, the time period was different and that may not have even been a possible seating arrangement for the ladies.


I have not been in the box at Fords, but saw enough that I still wonder how Booth was unable to be noticed entering the box seeing as how tight it was.

http://www.visitingdc.com/washington-dc/fords-theater-history.htm  (link to page with picture inside the box)

Then again, with the lower quality of the lighting of the time and depending on how interested Rathbone was in the play, it may not have been as obvious as I feel it would be.

I guess I get distracted too easily and feel my peripheral vision would have noticed movement.
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Roger Norton
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« Reply #24 on: June 14, 2012, 03:38:59 AM »

Offhand I don't know if there is a definitive source for this or whether it's apocryphal, but Mary Lincoln was reported to have previously said to Julia Grant, "How dare you sit in the presence of the wife of the President of United States!" This was aboard ship.

So perhaps Julia would have had to stand throughout the performance of Our American Cousin.

----------------------------------------------------------

Joe, I think my favorite is Theodore Benjamin Rhodes' testimony that it was actually John Surratt who did the "carpentry" in the vicinity of the State Box. Do you know if any wood shavings were found in Surratt's pockets when he was arrested in November of 1866?
« Last Edit: June 14, 2012, 05:24:35 AM by Roger Norton » Logged
BCorbett1865
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« Reply #25 on: June 14, 2012, 06:31:51 AM »

Ladies and Gents,
I believe that there would have been at least a few members of Grant's staff around him. One must remember that there were still Confederate armies in the field on April 14th and Grant, like Lincoln was waiting to hear from Sherman.
However, that being said, I don't think that it would have made much of a difference as far as Booth getting access to the Presidential box. The reason for this is that he was well known and would not have been considered a suspicious character as say Lewis Powell, or George Atzerodt had they attempted to gain access to the box.
The difference, I think by having Grant in the box instead of Rathbone would have been Booth's unlikely escape from the theatre. He still would have had the element of surprise...but there almost certainly would have been more eyes trained on the Presidential box had Grant been there. People in Washington were use to seeing Lincoln around town, but Seeing Grant would have been a novelty.
Just a few thoughts

Craig
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