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Author Topic: Booth and Herold crossing the Potomac.  (Read 4578 times)
asobbingfilm
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« on: May 14, 2010, 10:26:38 AM »

I have been using Google Earth to mark all locations on Booths escape route and Ive hit a little snag. I'd like to know a more precise point at which Booth and Herold pushed off from the Maryland shore. So using todays landmarks heres my ?. From Huckleberry there is a road Loyola Retreat rd, that goes to a religious compound (Jesuits?). Did they push off north or south of that point. If south somewhere north of Captain Billys Crab House? Somewhere along that shore?

Also, where in relation to the compound was Dents Meadow ?
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Mike
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« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2010, 02:14:08 PM »

 My  brother and I checked out the area from his boat a year or two ago.  There is now an elaborate duck blind off shore about where I think Booth was "shoved off".  That may show up on aerial views.  I settled on the location after looking at present day  nautical charts and detailed maps of the area.  I was looking for a marshy area fed by a creek, to match descriptions of the place where Jones kept his his boats.  Second choice is a little down stream, without the creek; that is more behind "Loyola".  These are two small marshy areas.  Further South there are cliffs at water's edge. 
  Loyola is indeed a Jesuit retreat.  It includes Thomas Jones's, "Huckleberry", which is now the gate house for the retreat.  In the 1970's, my friends and I used to sometimes watch the sunset from their overlook of the Port Tobacco River and the Potomac.  It was supposed to be, generally, Booth's departure point.
  By road, Dent's Meadow is past, (South and down stream of), Huckleberry and the entrance to Loyola.  I think the marsh fed by a creek is up stream, (Port Tobacco River), North of Loyola and their overlook.  My second choice fits the Jones account better.   It's a little further South, behind Loyola, and closer to the  signs for Dent's meadow, which have been there from the 1950's or earlier.  These sites are north of  "Captain Billy's"; which is at "Pope's Creek", where the Port Tobacco River enters the Potomac.
  My brother and I spent a morning specifically looking at the area where Booth crossed the Potomac.  We both grew up in the area; and he and his friends spent a lot of time on the river.  It is remarkably easy to mistake Cedar Point, in Maryland, with Mathias Point in Virginia, from the area where Booth tried to cross.  In day light, I was able to be easily turned around.  I'm told that my brother had to argue with his friend "George", who I consider a waterman, about which shore was which, one evening, while they were boating.  A storm was coming up and it was an important question.  George refused to believe the compass.
   It wasn't reasonable at all to expect two inexperienced men in a row boat to find Machodoc Creek, across the river, in the dark, with only a compass heading that didn't allow for current or tide; especially if they hadn't had a look in day light.  I think Thomas Jones, as much as I respect him for rejecting the reward money Williams offered, was just trying to hand Booth and Herold off.
  Nanjemoy Creek, where Booth wound up after his first attempt to cross the Potomac, is just the other side of Cedar Point, up stream from Port Tobacco Creek.  It's remarkable that this is where Smoot's boat was supposed to be kept; in preparation for the kidnapping.  Booth and Herold are supposed to have hidden there for a day.  There, they had the benefit of local advise, and a view of the river in day light. They went to the trouble of going miles downstream to Mrs. Q's the next night, instead of directly across the river.   I think they were trying to return to the old kidnapping route, and the support that was supposed to be in place there.
  To restate:
  Nanjemoy Creek, and Smoot's boat, were up stream, (Potomac River), from Dent's Meadow, around Cedar Point, on the Maryland side.
  Machodoc Creek , and Mrs. Quesenberry's, were down stream, around Mathias Point, On the Virginia side.
  It's very easy to get turned around, mistaking North from South, and upstream from down; even in daylight, with a compass, and experience.
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John Stanton
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« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2010, 03:44:46 PM »

If you really want to study Booth's crossing, I have some info that will add to your confusion, and give little toward an answer. The Potomac river is flowing North-East as it passes here. But, the current can be going either way, because we have a 2 foot tide (sometimes  even more) See pg 456 of "Come Retribution"and see a study of Booth's crossing by Tidwell, and your truly. At the time Booth crossed, there was a Light-ship at the Nanjemoy, with two lights at the top of the mast, (shown on 456) and another one at the mouth of the Gambo, with one light at the top of its mast. (not shown on 456) Both lights could be seen from Dent's Meadow. CR mentions fog, but the Logbooks of the Gunboats do not show fog. On pg 301, Cawoods Camp is shown, that is my farm - owned by H. M. Tennant, at that time. This study shows Booth's first attempt, that ended in the Nanjemoy. He made another, the next night. "... we came eout of the Nanjamoy at sundown...passed within 300 yards of a Gunboat,and landed on Mathias Point.... That does not sound like he went to the Gambo. He may have been hunting Cawood, but Cawood wasn't here, he was in Richmond, so Booth continued around the point, passed the Juniper and got to Gambo.
There is more, for another time. If you solve any of this, I would like to se it.
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asobbingfilm
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« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2010, 06:07:51 PM »

Laurie and all,

  I now see the inlet just south of the retreat house. It seems that entire shoreline is a prime film location ( already thinking ahead for next year ). So in a nutshell it is safe to say that Booth and Herold pushed off from that point. Or even safer to say at a point south of there but no further south than what is now Capt Billys ? Where does the jesuit property end?

  Wonder if my checkbook and I can swing us a prime sunset spot along there with a propery owner. Heres where I need a location front man.

Might of known someone would have the answer here

David
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Randal
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« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2010, 10:32:55 PM »

Laurie,
Where does it say that Smoot referred to Lock Eleven? (Leven) Atzerodt turned the boat over to George Bateman, who stashed the boat at Kings Creek. I need that info please.
Also, Smoot never mentions James A. Brawner in his booklet, totally cut him out along with Thomas Harbin, who was with Surratt when they negotiated for the boat.
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Mike
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« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2010, 01:14:11 PM »

Laurie,
  Kings Creek is shown on the modern "NOAA" chart of the "Potomac River, Lower Cedar Point to Mattawoman Creek".  It's a very useful chart that shows the area of Booth's crossing.  It goes as far South as Gambo Creek, but not quite to Macadoc.  Kings Creek is on the Western shore of Cedar Point Neck.  It flows into Nanjemoy Creek, at Balls Point. 
  It's also shown in my copy of the Alexandria Drafting Co. Charles County Street Map.  It's just North of Blossom Point Proving Grounds, on map 24.
  Or did you mean you haven't pinpointed Loch Leven Farm?  I can't help, there.
  Henry Woodland spent his days on the Potomac, fishing.  His boat was hidden in the area of Dent's Meadow.  Jones pumped him for information about Union activity on the river; and used the information, and maybe the same boat, for smuggling at night.
  Woodland said, at the time, that he had brought Booth's boat around from Allen's Fresh, only the day before it was used.  He walked from Huckleberry, to Allen's Fresh, and then went down the Wicomico, around Rock Point, and up the river to Dent's Meadow.  This seemed a stretch!
   I checked with my brother.  He kept a grey skiff above Allen's Fresh in the early 1950's, which I remember.  He and his cohorts sometimes skipped school and went as far as Rock Point.  If one used the tides, it would be practical for a waterman like Henry Woodlawn to go down the Wicomico, around Rock Point, and up to Port Tobacco Creek.
  On the other hand, ( Gentle readers, be not confused!), Jones, writing thirty years later, says Booth's boat was kept at Dent's Meadow!  It was supposed to be one of the only two boats that he knew of on the Northern shore of the Potomac.  That's another stretch! 
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Randal
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« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2010, 04:33:34 PM »

Mike,
Wasn't there originally 3 boats? The one of Smoot's, and two others from another source?

Thanks,
Randal
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Randal
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« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2010, 05:09:36 PM »

Thanks, I see it, it's on page 19 of mine.
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Randal
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« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2010, 05:11:41 PM »

I can't connect James Brawner to the hotel, there were many Brawners and Smoot's back then, I think they were all related LOL!
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Mike
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« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2010, 06:21:41 PM »

Randal,
  I think Jones had two boats.  One was kept near Dents Meadow, and used by Woodlawn in the day, and Jones at night.  The other was eventually sold to Booth, and used for his crossing.  It was kept at Allen's Fresh, until the day before Booth used it.
  There was also, of course, Smoot's boat.  A fourth was the boat Harbin and his partner used to cross to Virginia.  There's a story that they were seen and reported.  Troops were sent to Virginia chasing them, in the mistaken belief that they were Booth and Herold.
  There must have been many more boats.  I guess Jones claimed he only knew of two, to indicate he didn't know about Smoot's boat, or the kidnap plot, true or not.
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Joe Gleason
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« Reply #10 on: May 15, 2010, 07:53:29 PM »

Laurie,  The Loch Leven your looking for is located at the intersection of Brentland Rd. and Fergusson Fuese Pl. in Welcome MD.  In 1860 it was occupied
by Wilson Compton and his family. including his 14 yr. old nephew Barnes Compton. The same Barnes Compton owned Chimney House, home of George
Atzerodt.
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Randal
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« Reply #11 on: May 15, 2010, 08:15:16 PM »

Hold on Nellie! If Smoots recollection is true, then that shoots down anyone saying that Booth intended to go to Mudd's place whether or not he broke his leg. Then you could also discount Atzerodts "lost confession".Welcome is pretty far southwest of Mudd's place.

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Randal
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« Reply #12 on: May 15, 2010, 08:31:10 PM »

Actually, the distance btw Welcome and Waldorf is 16 1/2 miles Northeast. So, if Booth, Herold and Atzerodt's original plan to ride to Welcome after leaving Washington, can only confirm that Booth did break his leg after leaving the Navy Yard Bridge, because he knew he needed medical assistance and went to Waldorf instead? (where he had been before), thus, changing his original course?

This IS another one of those damn things about this hobby that makes me go, hmmmmm.  Huh
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Randal
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« Reply #13 on: May 15, 2010, 09:15:37 PM »

I mean, because Mudd's is a lot closer than Welcome.
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Randal
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« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2010, 06:16:37 AM »

I see your point, but, without looking at a map I wonder if it were a more direct route from the Tavern to Welcome?
That would be a longer way to go (to Welcome, instead of Waldorf) and fresh horses would be needed, however, Kauffman states in AB that George Bateman moved the boat to Kings Creek, ten miles from where it was originally supposed to be (at Goose Creek).

So, with Smoots scenario is to be believed, maybe the original destination was to be Welcome, but the plan changed after leaving the N.Y.B., and Booth certainly knew where Mudd lived.
I have never been convinced that Booth intended to go to Mudd's all along.My belief is that Booth would have wasted precious time getting away from UnionTroops that were sure to be shortly in the area, and to stop at Mudd's for a social visit, or to pick up "supplies along the route" would be a disadvantage for Booth.And before anyone points to Atzerodt's "confession", remember, the original plot to kidnap involved Mudd (stashing provisions), and Atzerodt simply remembered that, thus his statement regarding Mudd.
As I recall, NO "supplies" were found at Mudd's house, only Booth's boot. So where was the "liquor and provisions" that supposedly sent down to Mudd's previously, according to Atzerodt?

I know I'm alone on this theory, and I have asked many, many historians, and 99% of them agree that Booth originally intended to stop at Mudd's on his way out of Washington. But I remain un-convinced. Since there wasn't any "supplies, provisions" found to be "picked-up", why on earth would Booth stop at Mudd's? I'll tell you why, for the obivious reason, to seek treatment. 
 
 
 
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"Go to Heaven for the Climate, or go to Hell for the Company". Mark Twain
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