John Wilkes Booth's Escape

After shooting President Lincoln, Booth leapt from the presidential box to the stage.  Posing in front of the confused audience he yelled “Sic Semper Tyrannis! (So perish all tyrants!)” He then ran out of the backstage theatre door into the alley where a horse was waiting for him. Later that night, Booth and a fellow conspirator, David Herold, who had caught up to him, arrived at Mary Surratt’s tavern in Surrattsville, Maryland, where they picked up supplies.

After traveling for hours, they arrived at the home of Dr. Samuel Mudd who attended to Booth’s broken leg. They were later demanded to leave when Mudd learned of the assassination.  Booth and Herold ventured through the countryside, hiding in woods and swamps, the sound of the hooves of their pursuer’s horses always nearby.  It would be ten days after the night of the 14th and ninety five miles from Washington before Booth arrived at Garrett’s farm where two days later he ultimately would be captured and killed.

Revolver carried by John Wilkes Booth during his escape; it was with him when he was caught and killed.





Photographs found in Booth's pocket at the time of his capture. Lucy Hale, pictured at far left, was Booth's fiance and daughter of Senator John P. Hale, a well-known abolitionist.



One of the two Spencer Carbines owned by John Wilkes Booth. Booth was armed with this gun when he was apprehended, though he never fired a shot. The other rifle was found at Mary Surratt's tavern in Maryland.


Whistle carried by John Wilkes Booth during his flight through Maryland and Virginia. Signal whistles were used as a means of communication across distances at that time.






All photos by Carol M. Highsmith.