Lafayette Baker’s Feign: The Dumping of Booth into the Potomac River

John Wilkes Booth

John Wilkes Booth was dead. His body was examined on the Montauk. Certain individuals verified that it was, indeed, Booth. Secretary of War Stanton knew that there would be those who would seek to honor the deceased assassin by making a shrine of his grave. Perhaps to minimize that possibility, a curious thing took place: “players” took part in a script designed to throw the public “off the trail.” Michael W. Kauffman tells about it in his book ‘American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth And The Lincoln Conspiracies:”   

“…a steam tug appeared alongside the Montauk, and a large covered object was transferred to it from the ironclad. The tug headed down the Potomac, and shortly afterward, a large rowboat cast off from the other side of the ship. A naval officer, two detectives, and four oarsmen were aboard. In sight of the shoreline crowd, this boat took a zigzag course out to deeper waters, where one of the men dumped a large weighted object into the river.

The incident was staged by Lafayette Baker. The detectives on the towboat were his men, and instead of dumping Booth’s body, as onlookers assumed, they took it around to Greenleaf’s Point to the western side of the Washington Arsenal. There, with an oarsman standing guard, they left it on the arsenal wharf, just a few yards from the old Washington penitentiary. Maj. Edward N. Stebbins, chief storekeeper, would take charge of the remains and have them buried in a gun box beneath the prison floor.”

I wonder what the press said about the whereabouts of the Booth remains? I’m sure word spread quickly via the shoreline gazers that day that the body had been thrown overboard into the river. I wonder if anyone looked for the body in the water? I wonder if some believed it actually wasn’t Booth’s body because they “knew” he hadn’t been killed anyway? In truth, Booth’s body wouldn’t find it’s final resting place for a few years. Eventually, it was released to be buried in an unmarked grave in the Booth family burial plot. I’ve not heard of anyone trying to honor the is

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2 Responses to “Lafayette Baker’s Feign: The Dumping of Booth into the Potomac River”

  1. B. Nash says:

    Only amazing if anyone believes such a thing. That tale, and others like it, have been around since the event happened.

  2. S.D.Bob Plisken says:

    Hey America??? As a former US marine soldier and a friend of a former Israeli soldier, last time I heard, Booth was killed by Jesse James. Booth was going to spill the beans sooner or later. So, Jesse James made a mummy out of him. Amazing heh?

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