04-23-1865: Colonel William P. Wood's Reports about Dr. Samuel Mudd.
Source: U.S. National Archives Microfilm M599, Reel 7.
Colonel William P. Wood was the Superintendent of the Old Capitol Prison in Washington, D.C. Secretary of War Stanton sent him to Bryantown, Maryland to assist in the hunt for Booth. Colonel Wood filed two reports on April 23, 1865:
Bryantown, Chas. Co. Md.
April 23, 1865 (1st report)
Maj. L.C. Turner
After receiving my orders from the Hon. Sec. of War, I started from Washington, having in my company (or employ) Matthew Kirby, Aquilla Allen & Bernard Adamson, having received permission from Hon. Ed. M. Stanton, that I might release Zadock Jenkin's daughter.
I had sent Allen to get a correct description from the hostler of the horse (mare) which was hired by Booth, & after certain other little preliminaries started in pursuit of the murderers. Arriving at the Anacostia bridge (Navy Yard) about 9½ pm we learned that two persons had crossed the bridge on the night of the murder, who answered the description of Booth and David Herold, and the identification of the horses they rode. They (the murderers) passed the bridge at an interval of about 10 or fifteen minutes between them, J. Wilkes Booth crossing first. We stopped at the house of Zadock Jenkins. Jenkins was not at home - learned he was under arrest at the Post Office store kept by Robey. Jenkin's daughter was left at the house of her father and we proceeded to Surratt's Store, learned that the proprietor, a Mr. Lloyd, was under arrest at Robey's place; we proceeded to Robey's store (post office) and I saw Jenkins. He informed me that if I would call on Gabriel Thompson I would learn something of the murderers' passing up the road. I would find a Dr. Mudd who resided near Bryantown who could give me further particulars.
Receiving these reports, I left Jenkins at Robey's, 3½ am, April 22 (yesterday) & returned - had our horses fed & took breakfast - before sunrise we were at Gabriel Thompson's house. His son George Thompson (a boy of about 14 or 16 years) informed me that the parties, supposed to be Booth and Herold, passed him on the night of the murder, that his father's cart or conveyance had broken down in the road and he was there waiting for his father's return with another conveyance, that there was a black man now in the employ of Dr. Blankford (or Blanchard) named Henry Butler who was with him at the time the two men passed and that he had conversation with them, to the effect that if any person should make any inquiry for them to say they had taken the Marlborough road.
We left Thompson's house, and proceeded to Dr. Blanford's farm. Allen and myself proceeded to the house and after a hunt all over the farm we found Henry Butler. He fully corroborated the boy Thompson's statement. Neither one of these parties had been interrogated by any person previous to our interview with them, and I was thus fully satisfied we were on the track of the villains - proceeded then to Bryantown (the place where I am now working). Here I learned Col. Wells was stationed. After some conversation with him we left for Dr. Mudd's house, taking the Dr. in my buggy. He informed me that Booth had been introduced to him and had been at his home in the fall of 1864 and he had known him then as Booth - that he now believed since his examination that he had set the leg of Booth who was at his house on Saturday morning, about 4 o'clock am.
Visited Dr. Mudd's house and made an examination of the premises. The Dr. tells a tale not to be believed about their departure from his house, stated that he had cut the boot off Booth's leg as it was much swollen, and gave him a shoe or slipper. Crutches were made for Booth by the Dr. and an Englishman in the Dr.'s employ. Learning these and other matters, I returned with the Dr. and returned him to the custody of Col. Wells as promised. Col. Wells had arrived here the day previous to my arrival, and Dr. Mudd's action in the matter was patent to any one in the village who took any interest in the matter; I received every assistance & kindness at the hands of Col. Wells, who is taking every step in the prosecution of the business at hand. As I could get no lead of the horses any distance from Dr. Mudd's house, I was determined to go out again (distance some 3 or 5 miles from this place). On arriving at the place I thought there were suspicious transactions and movements and Allen, Kirby, & Adamson were left at the Dr.'s house (last night) and I returned to Bryantown. Met Dr. Mudd on his return to his house unaccompanied by any one, just at the edge of the village. Conversed with Col. Wells (he had paroled Dr. Mudd). The Col. had sent down to Robey's after the prisoner Lloyd; and in the evening was in at his confession. He stated that Mrs. Surratt's visit there on the day - Friday, was in relation to giving Booth & David Herold arms (carbines) which were left in his house by John Surratt. Booth told Lloyd (the prisoner) who resides in Mrs. Surratt's house (on the road) near Robey's that they (we) had murdered the president & Sec. Seward.
You can take all precautions necessary now with Mrs. Surratt for she was beyond the question of a doubt in the conspiracy. Lloyd knew David Herold personally and fully recognized him as being with Booth, and on being shown the likeness of Booth this morning fully identifies it as the man who had his leg broken and was in company with Herold, and who was the person who said we murdered the president. We have rumors that they have made their way to the Potomac & have crossed. We have lost all tracks of the horses from the time they were at Dr. Mudd's, where they remained nearly all the day on Saturday last. I have concluded to remain here (in the vicinity of Dr. Mudd's) until I can learn the trail of the horses. Should I receive any information of the murderers crossing the Potomac, I shall cross and follow them. It is impossible to form correct conclusions as to their whereabouts from the time they were at Dr. Mudd's house. There is no doubt but that Booth broke one of the bones in his leg in the jump on the stage of the theatre immediately after the murder. Col. Wells & myself are now going to Dr. Mudd's house. Will write again if I remain here another day. I send this for your information. Your good judgement will prevent any improper use thereof.
Hoping for success, I remain respectfully,
Your Obt. Servant,
William P. Wood,
April 23rd 1865 (2nd report)
Have been out to the residence of Dr. Mudd, accompanied by Col. Wells. The Col., A. Allen, Dr. Mudd and myself have made a personal examination of the premises and matters relating to the murderers. We traced both their horses and know they left Dr. Mudd's house on horseback. About dusk they were lost. Herold dismounted and went up the road to enquire for directions, and there is no doubt they have left for the Potomac via Port Tobacco, & going by way of Mathias Point in Va.
Dr. Mudd's statement I now believe to be true.
The assassins changed horses. Herold was riding the bay mare obtained from Pumphrey's Stable, and it may be possible that she fell or threw off Booth and broke his leg. However, I believe as I have written this morning. I will start for Port Tobacco this evening. My men Kirby & Allen slept last night in the bed used by Booth when his leg was bandaged.
All the tales about Booth being in Washington, Pennsylvania, or upper Maryland are a hoax. We are on his tracks, rely on it. We are all well.
William P. Wood, Supt.