Mudd was an American physician who was convicted and imprisoned for aiding and conspiring with John Wilkes Booth to assassinate US President Abraham Lincoln. He was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson in 1869 but despite repeated attempts by family members to have this expunged his conviction has never been overturned.
He grew up on a tobacco plantation to the southeast of downtown Washington D.C. which was worked on by 89 slaves, he went to boarding school in Maryland and then to Georgetown College in Washington. Mudd studied medicine, then married Sarah Frances Dyer Mudd a year later, Mudd’s father gave them 218 acres of farmland as a present and whilst the new house was under construction they lived with his brother Jeremiah.
They had nine children, four before his arrest and five after he left prison. Mudd believed that slavery was divinely ordained and with the advent of the American Civil War in 1861 the slavery economy began to rapidly collapse. The Union Army established Camp Stanton in 1863, it sat 1o miles away from Mudd’s farm and enlisted black freedmen and run-away slaves. With all of this Mudd said considered selling up, he was then introduced to the actor John Wilkes Booth.
It seems that this interest was a cover story on Booth’s part as he wanted to use it to plan an escape route as part of his kidnap plot. Mudd met him and Booth stayed the night on the farm, the next day he brought a horse from Mudd’s neighbour and returned to Washington. There are suggestions that this is where Booth enlisted Mudd but others say
this seems to be an absurd suggestion. However co-conspirator George Atzerodt suggested says that Mudd knew abut the plan in advance.
After Booth shot the president he broke his left leg fleeing the Ford’s theatre and along with David Herold they made for Virginia, stopping at Mudd’s house. Mudd set, splinted and bandaged the broken left then arranged for a carpenter to make crutches. It is not clear if Mudd had been aware of the murder at this point.
When Mudd went to Bryantown April 15th he most certainly would have known from the news there. He came home that evening and it is unclear if the two left or if he met them leaving. Mudd did not however contact the authorities immediately and when questioned said he would not want to leave his family alone with them unprotected and risk more troubles. He waited until Mass the following day and asked his cousin to notify the 13th New York Cavalry in Bryantown, the delay caused suspicion.
There was a lengthy trial and Mudd escaped the death penalty by one vote, the other four with charges were hanged. Despite an attempt at breaking out he was finally given a reprieve. Mudd took over during a spate of Yellow Fever in 1867 in the prison; he took over as prison doctor when the other died. The soldiers in the fort wrote a petition about his assistance.
Mudd was 49 years old when he died of pneumonia on January 10th 1883; he is buried at the cemetery, St Mary’s Catholic Church in Bryantown. Mudd’s house is now a museum and it is said that Mudd is still walking around trying to clear his name. Voices in the house have been reported, some says that it might even be the voices of David Herold or even John Wilkes Booth. TAPS went into investigate and produced their findings on a show, I wonder if anyone has any real life stories for us here…
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