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Volume 36, No. 5 – May 2023

The President’s Message:


Mark your calendars for Wednesday, June 14th.  The speaker will be Guy Bachman.

We will also have books for sale at the meeting.

Gerridine LaRovere

June 14, 2023 Program:

Guy Bachman will speak about the military men who were stationed in Florida before the Civil War.  This presentation will explain what they did to help form Palm Beach County from roadways to the building the Jupiter lighthouse.  Many of men served and became famous during the Civil War.

April 12, 2023 Program:

Janell Bloodworth presented a two-part program.  Through the years the name Mudd has been denigrated and always has a negative connotation.  Janell told us the actual facts of Dr. Samuel Mudd’s encounter with John Wilkes Booth.  The second part of the program answered the “burning” questions about General Ambrose Burnside’s spy girl friend.  Did he know that she was a secret agent?  Did the general follow his rule of a death sentence to anyone spying?

Your name is Mudd is not a phrase that elicits admiration of any sense of pleasure.  This isMudd especially true for any member or descendant of the Mudd family of Maryland.  The expression “your name is Mudd” came into being because Dr. Samuel Mudd of Bryantown, MD set an injured man’s broken leg.  This act led to Dr. Mudd’s misfortune of spending almost four years in prison.

On May 9, 1865, eight prisoners, iron manacles clamped on their wrists, chains binding their ankles, and flanked by soldiers of the Veteran Reserve Corps, filed slowly into the makeshift courtroom on the third floor of Washington’s Arsenal Penitentiary.  Nine army officers sat ready to try them for murder.  Among the accused was the young physician.  Imprisoned for two weeks without benefit of an attorney, Dr. Mudd had not yet begun to realize the enormity of the death charges facing him.  His crime was setting an injured man’s leg.

Unfortunately for Dr. Mudd, that man was John Wilkes Booth, who broke his leg while assassinating President Abraham Lincoln.  For his apparently unwilling part in the conspiracy, Mudd was brought to trial and adjudged guilty.  His sentence was life imprisonment.  He missed death by hanging by the vote of one man.  Originally sentenced to the federal penitentiary in Albany, NY, Mudd was sent instead to Ft. Jefferson in Dry Tortugas.  The site was a maximum-security prison on an island 60 miles west of Key West.

Mudd was condemned ostensibly because he had met the assassin Booth at least once prior to the murder.  Some think it would be more correct to believe that he was condemned by what General Lew Wallace reportedly said: “The deed is done; somebody must suffer for it, and he may as well suffer as anybody else.”  The chain of events that would catapult the 31-year-old into prison for life began on the night of April 14th. 

Booth made a comfortable living at $20,000. per year, but he was determined to etch his name on the pages of history.  For much of his 26 years he dreamed of doing great deeds.  The original plan was to kidnap Lincoln in Washington and carry him to Richmond, VA.  Once there he could be ransomed.  But after several false starts and postponements Booth began to turn from abduction to assassination.  The murder proved to be ridiculously easy.  Lincoln had asked Secretary of War Stanton for a military guard, but he was refused.  His protection as a single police guard to watch the presidential box who was not there when Booth made his move.  Booth entered the box, shot Lincoln in the head, grappled with Major Rathbone, and jumped from the box to the stage.  But he caught his spur on the flag draping the box and fell to the stage breaking his leg.  In pain, Booth hobbled out a side door, and rode off on horseback through the night.

At daybreak, 25 miles south of the capital, Dr. Samuel Mudd awoke to a pounding on the door of his farmhouse.  “Who’s there?” he asked sleepily.  A voice from the outside said “I have an injured man in need of a doctor.”  The voice belonged to David Herold, who that night had taken part in an unsuccessful attempt on the life of Secretary of State William Seward.  Leaning on Herold’s shoulder, Booth entered the house.  Herold explained “My friend broke his leg falling off a horse.”

Did Mudd recognize Booth who he had met five months before?  Booth had said he was “looking over property in the neighborhood” although he was planning an escape route for his abduction of Lincoln plot.  According to at least one trial witness, whose reputation for integrity has since been highly questioned, Mudd had met Booth in Washington at an even later date.  Because of this, the court charged that Mudd had not only recognized Booth, but had conspired with him to plan the assassination.  The charge seems rather thin.  It was unlikely that a broken leg would have been a part of Booth’s plan.  Mudd did not learn of Lincoln’s death until later that day.  By that time Booth and Herold had already left his house.

It wasn’t even then generally known that Booth had been the man to enter Lincoln’s box at Ford’s Theater.  The War Department had carefully covered up the name of the assassin even to the point of censoring it from press dispatches.  Mudd acted as any decent caring doctor would.  He slit open the stranger’s boot to remove it from his foot, set the bone, and put him to bed.  Booth and Herold stayed in Mudd’s house most of Saturday, the day after the shooting.

At one-point Mudd attempted to borrow a wagon from his father so his patient could continue his trip in comfort, but he failed to secure one.  Booth wanted a razor to shave off his mustache so Mudd loaned him one.  Then the doctor left his house to tend to other patients and to some other duties on his farm.  While he was away Booth and Herold set off on horseback through the swamp.  As Booth was leaving his disguise, a false beard, slipped slightly and Mrs. Mudd became suspicious.

Dr. Mudd told acquaintances what little he knew about the strangers the next morning.  But not until Tuesday, four days after the assassination, did soldiers come to his house to investigate.  It wasn’t until the end of the week that Mudd was jailed, held on the assumption that he willingly aided the escapees.  Meanwhile Booth and Herold remained hidden for a week in the thick swamp a dozen miles to the south.  They were aided by plantation owner Colonel Samuel Cox and his foster brother Thomas Jones.

Jones eventually helped them cross the Potomac one night in a rowboat.  The two then traveled briefly with three pardoned Confederate soldiers.  Booth and Herold then stopped on the night of April 25th at the farm of Richard Garrett.  They had crossed the Rappahannock River by ferry.  The Federal troops finally cornered Booth and Herold sleeping in Garrett’s tobacco barn.

“Surrender” shouted a lieutenant “or we’ll fire the barn and smoke you out like rats.”  Herold threw down his gun and walked out, but Booth refused to give in so easily.  The barn was set on fire and to everyone’s surprise the building went up in a flash.  The barn was filled with wooden furniture, stored by the Garretts for their neighbor, and caught fire very quickly.  The flames nearly engulfed Booth and he spun around to make a quick break for the door.

As Booth made six or seven steps toward the door Sgt. Boston Corbett thought Booth was going to shoot his way out of the barn.  So he shot Booth who fell forward on his face.  The bullet went through his neck cutting the spinal cord.  He died shortly thereafter.  Just Booth’s blood did not satisfy the people of the country.  Anyone involved with Lincoln’s murder must suffer for it.  So Dr. Mudd and seven others were brought before a military tribunal.

The tribunal tried to claim that Dr. Mudd had not only set Booth’s injured leg, but had also conspired with him in Lincoln’s assassination.  The defense countered these charges.  After the trial four conspirators were taken off to be hanged.  Four others were sent to Ft. Jefferson Prison in Florida.  They were originally to be sent to Albany, but because the opposition to a military court to try civilians caused the authorities to send them south where there was less danger from civilian courts to free them.

At first Mudd was incredulous that such a disaster should have befallen him.  “Oh, there is no hope for me.” He reportedly exclaimed.  “Oh, I cannot live in such a place.”  At the end of the Civil War 250 army men were garrisoned at Ft. Jefferson watching over 50 prisoners.  Dr. Mudd was assigned to duties in the prison hospital.  At first, he seemed hopeful that his wife and friends would soon either successfully appeal his case or obtain a pardon from President Andrew Johnson.  But though Johnson as much admitted that Mudd was innocent he would not release him.  “Public opinion is too strong against such mercy at this time,” said the President.

Of course, Johnson had his own problems.  He was fighting people who wanted to impeach him.  There was also a very vocal minority who insisted that he and the Secretary of War Stanton had aided in the assassination attempt.  Dr. Mudd became disillusioned with injustice and cruel treatment. 

So – in September he attempted to flee his dungeon.  Although prisoners were constantly escaping from the loosely guarded fort, Mudd did not have their subterfuge.  Also, other prisoners were not as famous as he and would not be missed so quickly.  He managed to sneak outside the fort into the hull of a transport.  Ten minutes later soldiers found him and threw him in irons.  Although Dr. Mudd spent much of the remainder of his sentence in chains, he did not regret the loss of his hospital privileges.  He wrote to his wife that it depressed him to see prisoners with minor illnesses dying because of improper nutrition.

Two years later, in August of 1867, the first cases of yellow fever appeared in a barracks room on the south side of the fort.  Two stricken soldiers died within days.  At that time mosquitoes had not yet been identified as the spreaders of yellow fever.  So, the only precaution taken was quarantine.  The disease would not be so easily contained.  It began to sweep the fort, spreading from the supposedly infected south side.

Yellow fever, so many people thought at this time, was a contagious disease.  You had to destroy the contaminated clothing of those who contracted it to prevent the disease’s spread.  At one time during the Civil War, Southern leaders had even considered a form of “germ warfare” whereby contaminated clothing would be dumped in northern cities to start yellow fever epidemics.  Obviously, such plans were doomed to failure, since mosquitoes, not infected clothes, were the culprits.

At Ft. Jefferson steady southeasterly winds carried the mosquitoes and the disease along an almost predictable path.  Soldiers and prisoners living in neighboring rooms began to fall like dominoes.  One of Mudd’s fellow prisoners remarked to him – “Doctor, the yellow fever is the fairest and squarest thing that I have seen the past 4 or 5 years.  It makes no distinction in regard to rank, color, or previous condition.  Ever man has his chance and I would advise you, as a friend, not to interfere.

Mudd, however, as a doctor, had to interfere.  17 days after the big epidemic’s outbreak, prison surgeon, J. Sim Smith, died of yellow fever.  The commanding officer, Major Stone, walked reluctantly toward Dr. Mudd’s quarters to ask him to manage the hospital until the arrival of another surgeon.  On his way he encountered a man with a message from the imprisoned doctor.  Dr. Mudd had already volunteered his services. 

Upon taking charge Dr. Mudd immediately changed treatment procedures.  Newly stricken victims had formerly been transported by boat over rough seas to a hospital on Sandy Key, two and a half miles away.  Aware that only instant attention could halt the disease’s advance through the system, Mudd treated the sick immediately within the fort.  Dr. Mudd contracted the disease himself but recovered.  During the weeks off and on that he took charge of the hospital, Dr. Mud proved to be an effective doctor.  Not one patient died.

It appeared that Mudd would soon be rewarded.  Following the death of Major Stone’s wife from yellow fever, the prison commandant left the island with his two-year-old son.  Major Stone promised that when he arrived in Washington, he would attempt to obtain a pardon as a reward for Dr. Mudd’s humanitarian work.  But – when he arrived in Key West he came down with yellow fever and died.

But – when a new commandant arrived at Ft. Jefferson, Mudd was again thrown into chains.  He totally despaired of ever getting a release.  Meanwhile Dr. Mudd’s wife and his friends continued their pleas for justice – at least clemency.  By now the public that had been so quick to thirst for the “blood” of the conspirators almost four years ago had almost forgotten or lost interest in them.  The impeachment action against Johnson had failed.  In 1869, just before leaving office, he signed a pardon releasing Mudd from prison.

Dr. Mudd returned home broken in spirit and weakened in health.  14 years later he died of pneumonia at the age of 50 – an illness he contracted while visiting a sick patient on a bad wintery night.  This story does not end there. 

In October 1959 Congress passed and President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law a bill providing for a bronze memorial at Ft. Jefferson commemorating Dr. Samuel A. Mudd’s services to the yellow fever victims.  Mudd’s grandson worked for 50 years to clear his grandfather’s name.  In 1979 President Jimmy Carter issued a proclamation absolving Mudd in any complicity in Lincoln’s death.

Burnside & Lottie

LottieTragic as it was there were instances and episodes that showed that human nature was not all bad.  The story of Ambrose Burnside and his love for a delightful young woman and what happened to their relationship is a good example.  Cynthia Charlotte Moon was a beauty.  She was petite with thick, lustrous brown hair and sparkling blue-gray eyes.

Her beguiling ways attracted many a suitor.  Most of her suitors, friends, and family members called her Lottie.  All of those who knew her described her as witty, charming, a sparkling conversationalist, and always, above all – a prankster.  One of Lottie’s more startling talents was her ability to throw her jaw out of joint with a cracking sound while feigning extreme agony.  In the future this would have some unusual applications.  During her teens Lottie played many parts in the local theater.  What she learned there she would put to remarkable use as one of the confederacy’s most daring and unorthodox spies.

Lottie was born in Danville, VA.  When she was five years old her father, a physician moved the family to Oxford, OH.  As a teenager Lottie did not abide by the refined traditions of her day.  Often, she would shoot at targets with a pistol or ride bareback through the town.  She was never at a loss for words or afraid to speak her mind.  She truly enjoyed shocking her prim contemporaries.

Lottie attended Oxford College for Women for a short time, but college did not tame her of her wild ways.  The college history described her as “the most widely-known, quick-witted, unafraid of any scheme-man-could-devise, captivating belle.”  Lottie was never lacking for suitors.  One of the most ardent was Ambrose Everett Burnside, whom she met while visiting relatives in Indiana. 

Ambrose fell in love with the vivacious and intelligent Lottie.  After a whirlwind romance he persuaded her to, as he phrased it – “set the good day” – the day for their wedding.  On the wedding day with family, guests, and the minister assembled Ambrose solemnly promised to love, cherish, honor, and obey Cynthia Charlotte Moon.  The minister then asked of Lottie if she would love, cherish, honor, and obey Ambrose.  “No, sir-ee Bob, I won’t” she exclaimed, retreated down the aisle and hurried away.

It was no surprise that Ambrose Burnside was understandably upset.  But – Lottie managed to convince him that it had all been in fun.  Instead of becoming bitter (as any “sane” man would have done) Ambrose became her suitor again.  But she soon had eyes for another – and another – and another.  Infact Lottie became engaged to 12 hopeful men at one time.  One of them was a student at Miami University.  His name was James Clark who would later become a brilliant Ohio judge.  When Lottie’s father met Clark he told his daughter, “You can marry that Yankee Burnsides anytime you want to, but Jim Clark has too much brains for you.”

This may have been the wrong thing to say to Lottie.  She took an interest in young Clark and found a bizarre unorthodox way to express it.  It began with one of her pell-mell gallops through the streets of Oxford.  She raced through the streets of town, through the outskirts, and several miles down the road where she confronted the approaching stage from Cincinnati.  She ascertained from the driver, a family friend, that Jim Clark was a passenger.  She persuaded her friend to let her drive the coach into town.  With a crack of the whip, she sent the horses plunging forward with the coach careening and skidding, sometimes on two wheels, into Oxford.

At the Mansion House Hotel she jammed on the brakes, skidded off the road, and came to a abrupt stop.  Irate, disheveled passengers piled out, furiously waving their fists, and cursing.  Lottie remained aloof and unmoved waiting for the last passenger – Jim Clark to appear.  At the sight of her his stern face relaxed into a grin.  “How do you do, Lottie” he said.  “I was in quite a hurry and I thank you.”  It was one of Lottie’s better performances and it certainly caught Clark’s attention.

They shortly became an inseparable couple and soon announced their engagement.  As another wedding day approached, rumor had it that Lottie had issued a challenge to another of her many suitors, John Bond, a newspaper editor – “If you get here before I marry Jim, I’ll marry you.”  Whether Clark heard the rumor or not, he was aware of the fiasco that had taken place with Burnside.

According to one story, as the couple met to descend a staircase for the ceremony, Clark showed Lottie a small revolver concealed in his palm.  He is supposed to have whispered to Lottie – “There will be a wedding tonight or a funeral tomorrow.”  Many years later Lottie’s granddaughter insisted that Lottie was the one secreting a pistol in the folds of her wedding dress because another suitor had threatened to disrupt the wedding.

In any case the wedding ceremony went forward uninterrupted – January 30, 1849.  It was actually a union of two great minds.  For more than a decade their married life was tranquil.  They moved to Jones Station Ohio.  Judge Clark had one of the best libraries in the county.  Lottie became a voracious reader, soaking up science texts, biographical writings, and Darwin’s theories.  She bore two sons – one of whom died in infancy.

When the approach of the Civil War seemed ominous Judge Clark and his young wife opposed the war and were sympathetic to the South.  Judge Clark openly avowed his belief in the right of states to secede under the Constitution.  He and his wife both favored gradual emancipation of slaves within the Union.  They were not alone in their viewpoints.  Butler County, where they resided, was considered a hotbed of Southern sympathizers.

When the war came the Clarks were torn between their loyalties to the Union and to the South.  They chose the South.  Lottie’s brother Robert joined the Confederate Army and William the Confederate Navy.  At the beginning of the war the Clarks secreted supplies for wounded Confederate soldiers being cared for secretly in the homes of fellow sympathizers.

Once Lottie had her son, Frank, stay in bed for weeks, even though he was perfectly well, so that she would have a reason to order medical supplies.  She also delivered supplies and helped care for convalescents.  As one might expect from Lottie, those staid local involvement in the war weren’t enough to satisfy her.  She learned that her brother, Bob, had been captured and was a prisoner at Camp Chase in Columbus.

She immediately traveled to Columbus and gained entrance to the prison with the help of a family friend- the governor.  Brother Bob was not there but she saw many other young men who were friends and acquaintances.  Lottie was appalled at the conditions at Camp Chase and, true to form, kept it no secret.  She crusaded unfalteringly until improvements were made.  In the summer of 1862 Lottie’s involvement in the war was transformed and upgraded due to an arrival at the Clark home.

Walker Taylor, the nephew of Zachary Taylor and notorious Confederate spy, ostensibly came to the Clarks to buy mules for his plantation.  In fact, however, he was carrying dispatches from Confederate General Sterling Price to Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith concerning Braxton Bragg’s army in the Kentucky campaign.  Taylor was afraid of being recognized in the area and needed someone else to deliver the messages.

So – guess who volunteered?  Lottie did, of course.  She put a floppy old sunbonnet on her head, bundled herself and the dispatches into a shabby old shawl and assumed her role of an Irish washerwoman.  No one challenged her as she made her way through Cincinnati and across the Ohio River into Kentucky.  Once in Kentucky she persuaded some Irish soldiers to hide her on a troop transport bound for Lexington.  In Lexington she slipped away, followed the Lexington Pike until she met a Confederate officer, Colonel Thomas Scott.  She passed him the papers to take to General Kirby Smith.

By this time Lottie was feeling very confident and proud of her accomplishment but – oops.  Suddenly she was faced with an unexpected problem and challenge.  When she arrived at the station in Lexington, she noticed an excited crowd there.

Word had spread that a female spy might be returning from Southern lines and there was an order for her arrest throughout the entire region.  Undaunted and loaded with self-confidence Lottie did not even try to be inconspicuous.  She brazenly took a seat on the train directly behind a well-known Kentucky Unionist, General Leslie Coombs.

She even attracted attention to herself by sobbing into an old kerchief.  She told her tale of woe to the sympathetic general.  She was grief stricken over the condition of her “poor darlin husband a-dyin” in a hospital in Lexington.  She said she was returning from a visit, but was terrified of being mistaken for “that spy.”  Coombs took the old woman under his protection and put her safely on the ferry going back across the Ohio.

Lottie was so buoyed by her success that she took on another assignment with no fear or trepidation at all.  This assignment involved a trip to Canada.  While there she was to pick up a dispatch to Confederate President Jefferson Davis from leaders of the Confederate intelligence organization, the Knights of the Golden Circle.  After leaving Canada, on her way south to Virginia, Lottie stopped in Washington.

At a social function there she met a fellow Ohio native, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.  With her charm and beguiling ways Lottie won Stanton’s complete confidence.  He even arranged to have her ride with President Lincoln and his party to visit General McClellan’s Army of the Potomac.  McClellan issued Lottie a pass to travel through the Union lines to Richmond.

When Stanton learned of Lottie’s espionage activities, he was furious and offered a $10,000. reward for the female spy – dead or alive.  On her way back to Ohio from Virginia Lottie met up with Union General F.J. Milroy.  Milroy had his suspicions about Lottie and questioned her.  She explained that she was on her way from Warm Springs, VA to Hot Springs, AR in hopes of getting some relief from her debilitating rheumatism. 

General Milroy asked his surgeon to examine Lottie to find out if she was telling the truth.  During the examination Lottie used her acting talents and her girlhood prank of popping her jaw with accompanying cracking and grinding noises.  This clever maneuver convinced the doctor that Lottie was indeed experiencing a serious malady.  She received permission to continue on her way.

Lottie finally reached Cincinnati and was close to the safety of her home when she learned that two female spies had been arrested that week and that soldiers were looking for a third.  Lottie’s luck began to change when she encountered the Union General commanding the Army of the Ohio – Ambrose Burnside.  In the 15 years since they had last seen each other, both Lottie and Burnside had changed a great deal. 

He had gained weight and was sporting those flamboyant side whiskers which became known as sideburns.  Lottie was no longer the young and coquettish teen Ambrose had wooed and lost.  She naively, hoped that he would not recognize her and unabashedly complained about her rheumatism and begged for a pass-through Cincinnati.  When she had finished Burnside said mildly – “You have forgotten me, but I have not forgotten the many happy hours I once spent with you in Oxford.”  Lottie could not escape from this dilemma.  She was Burnside’s prisoner.

Unfortunately, General Burnside had recently issued an order that required the death penalty for anyone who helped the Confederacy.  Lottie was not his only prisoner.  He also had in his custody the two female spies arrested a few days earlier for smuggling supplies to the South.  Believe it or not – they were Lottie’s sister Virginia and their mother Cynthia.

Lottie’s luck had not really run out.  In spite of Burnside’s harsh orders for dealing with Confederate spies, the records show that they were not applied to Lottie, her sister, or their mother.  The women were imprisoned for three months, but not in dingy vermin infested jail.  They spent a comfortable three months in the Burnet House in Cincinnati.  All charges were dropped.  Not a word appeared in any newspapers regarding Lottie Moon’s arrest or later parole.  But from then on, she was watched constantly.  Her usefulness to the Confederacy was at an end.

After the war Judge Clark and Lottie moved to New York City.  There she became a correspondent for a large New York newspaper – the New York World.  Her wartime activities were not over.  She went to Europe to cover the Franco-Prussian War.  After returning to New York, she wrote several books including two editions of a book about the Civil War.  At the age of 66 Lottie encountered an adversary she could not outwit.  She died of cancer on November 20, 1895, at her son’s home in Philadelphia.


Last changed: 05/04/23