The Manhunt for John Wilkes Booth

After he murdered President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth was nowhere to be found. Where did he go?

Booth’s meticulous planning for his getaway worked, but only for so long. The most wanted man in the United States, with a $100,000 reward on his head, evaded capture for 12 days. Booth escaped out the back door of Ford’s Theatre. He jumped onto a rented horse he had left there and rode frantically out of Washington. Booth made his way into Maryland, where he met up with David Herold. Where did the two go next? How did investigators learn of their whereabouts? Follow their trail below.

Collecting Evidence: Testimony
Conduct Your Own Investigation

As you look at each testimony, consider:

  • How does this evidence match—or not—with other evidence? Who gave the testimony?
  • What might the person’s motives be for saying what they did?
  • When did this person give the testimony? Was it soon after the event? Much later? How might that affect what they said?

John Wilkes Booth’s Attempted Escape

Hunt for an Assassin

Follow John Wilkes Booth and David Herold as they tried to escape justice.

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April 15, Midnight

After meeting up at a place known as Soper’s Hill, Booth and Herold stopped at Surratt’s Tavern in present-day Clinton, Maryland, to pick up guns and supplies.

April 15, 4:00 a.m.

Booth and Herold arrived at Dr. Samuel Alexander Mudd’s house in Waldorf, Maryland, where Dr. Mudd set Booth’s broken leg.

April 16 to 20

Booth and Herold hid out in a pine thicket until it was safe to cross the Potomac River toward Virginia—territory even more sympathetic to the Confederacy than was southern Maryland.

April 23, Evening

Booth and Herold stopped by Dr. Richard H. Stuart’s home in hopes to treat Booth’s broken leg further and rest for the night.