How Abraham Lincoln’s Murderer Was Captured

The assassination of President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, shocked the nation and marked a tragic end to the American Civil War. Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth, a famous actor and Confederate sympathizer, in Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. Booth’s capture unfolded over 12 dramatic days.

The Assassination

On the evening of April 14, Booth entered Ford’s Theatre, where President Lincoln was watching a play. Booth, who was familiar with the layout of the theater, slipped into the President’s box and shot him in the back of the head.

The Manhunt

The manhunt for Booth was one of the largest of its time, involving thousands of federal troops, detectives, and police officers. The government offered a $100,000 reward (a substantial sum in 1865) for information leading to Booth’s capture. 

The Capture

Booth eventually found refuge at the Virginia farm of Richard Garrett. Federal troops traced his hiding place in a barn. Booth refused to give up. The soldiers then set the barn on fire, hoping to flush Booth out. Instead, Booth moved to the back of the barn. 

Sergeant Boston Corbett shot Booth through the slats of the barn, aiming for his legs to incapacitate him but hitting him in the neck. The wound paralyzed Booth. He died a few hours later on the porch of Garrett’s farmhouse.

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