Herold's fate/legacy

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So it crossed my mind this morning that Herold had plenty of chances to just abandon Booth. What do you think might have happened to him if he had done that? It's easy to see how he could have escaped into the Deep South or Mexico and quietly lived out his life. I wonder how history (and assassination enthusiasts) would remember him if he had just taken off.

That also brings to mind the question of how the other "main" conspirators really felt about the plot to abduct/assassinate Lincoln. I wonder if they really cared that much, or if they were just under Booth's spell. Herold, Powell, and Atzerodt were all young men, at least relatively so in the case of Atzerodt. And as we know, young men can do some stupid things. I just can't help but wonder if those three were just kind of hanging around looking for something to do as things were starting to wind down for the Confederacy, and fell in with Booth, who had a much different agenda. I wonder if they cared in anywhere close to the same way Booth did.

I get the impression that Herold had lived a very sheltered type of life and if that was the case then I'm not sure he would have had the skills to just up and take off to Mexico all by himself.As far as how much true interest that they had in Booth's plot ?I would have to say that John Surratt would have been very into it but the others maybe not so much.As the old saying goes boys will be boys and I'm sure they felt important hanging out with John Wilkes Booth the "Star" and they let him misguide them down a path of no return.I'm just a novice on here so I''m probably way off on this but thats my take on the situation. ;)

John Watson:
Of all Booths men, Herald was probably the most in awe of the actor.  His decision not to desert Booth in lower Maryland says a lot about his deep loyalty to the older man who he considered his benefactor, teacher, and friend, and it was only at the point of a gun, facing imminent loss of his life, did he finally renounce the man.  I think Herold was up for both projects – the kidnapping and later the assassination – more for the adventure than any political reason certainly, yet it was his complete trust in Booth and eagerness to please his friend that motivated him – and ultimately led to his death.  And make no mistake about it, Herold was no dupe.  He was intelligent, well-educated, quick-witted and not easily led or intimidated by others.  He moved comfortably among the rich and famous as well as the rural countrymen he often visited.  If necessary, he could defend himself in a fist fight or dodge the truth without blinking, as he proved during questioning by the best of Stanton’s inquisitors.

Arnold and O’Laughlin were childhood acquaintances of Booth and knew him when.  Their willingness to join the kidnapping plot was based, I think, more on aiding the Confederate cause than awe of Booth, although the adventure must have appealed to them to a degree.  Arnold’s impatient ultimatum hurled at Booth in front of the others, and O’Laughlin’s having to loan Booth money, indicates that these men must have thought themselves Booth’s equals.  Neither would have joined Booth in the assassination.

John Surratt certainly felt himself Booth’s equal if not his teacher.  It was Surratt, the Confederate agent and courier, who paved the way for Booth’s kidnapping plot with introductions, etc.  He was in it for adventure and also for military and political reasons, much like Arnold and O’Laughlin.  He would likely not have joined in the assassination plot.

Atzerodt was strictly a hired man, in it for the gold he was promised.  The idea of assigning him to kill Johnson was ludicrous.

Powell was without question the ablest of Booth’s crew.  Kidnapping or assassination, it would not have mattered to this former Confederate soldier and Moseby man, once described by his fellow irregulars as “the terrible Lewis Powell.”.  Both were acceptable acts of war, and Booth filled the role of commanding officer.  No doubt Powell was awed by Booth’s fame and wealth and likely flattered by the famous actor’s attention, but it was Booth’s determination to aid the Confederate cause by direct action that appealed most to this out-of-work warrior.  The other conspirators were “hangers on . . . women and babies,” according to Powell.

Gene C:
These guys liked to hang around with Booth because he was a big star and attracted a lot of attention.  He would by them drinks and food.  He was also a chick magnet.
In "My Thoughts Be Bloody" by Nora Titone, she has very little positive to say about JWB.   

I think Davey never did figure out the consequences of what would happen if thinks didn't work out right, until it was to late.  By then, his chances of getting away were better with Booth than on his own.    Who's going to help a nobody.... Booth at least had a name, reputation, a certain style, and contacts.   

Good point.


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