May 16 - Testimony of Colonel H.H. Wells
COLONEL H. H. WELLS, a witness called for the prosecution, being duly sworn, testified as follows:
By the JUDGE ADVOCATE:
Q. State to the Court whether or not, some time during the week subsequent to the assassination of the President, you had an interview with the prisoner Dr. Mudd.
A. Yes, sir: I had an interview with him, I think, on the 21st of April, which was Friday.
Q. State what he then said in regard to the men who called at his house on the Saturday morning after the assassination.
A. I had three definite conversations with him.
Q. State them, if you please.
A. The first conversation, I think, occurred about noon, or a little after noon, on Friday. I sent and had the doctor brought to my headquarters, and took his statement. It was taken in writing. He said to me—
Mr. Ewing objecting to any oral statement of what Dr. Mudd said, if the writing could be produced.
The Judge Advocate exhibited to the witness a written paper, and asked,—
Q. Look at that paper, and see if it contains the statement which he then made.
A. This is a copy of one of the statements he made.
Q. Which one?
A. My impression is that this is the statement made at the second interview.
Q. Have you a copy of the first statement?
A. No, sir. I should state, that, in the first interview, the statement he made was not put in writing; but I think the second one was put in writing; and the third one, I think, was not put in writing.
Q. Now state what he said on the first occasion, which was not reduced to writing.
A. He commenced by remarking, that on Saturday morning, about four o’clock, he was aroused by a loud knock at his door: he was surprised at the loudness of the knock, and inquired who could be there. Receiving some answer, he looked, I think, from the window, or went to the door, and saw standing in his front yard one person holding two horses, and a second person sitting on one of the horses that he was holding. He described the appearance of the person; said that he seemed to be a young man, very talkative, and fluent in his speech. He said that the person on horseback had broken his leg, and desired medical attendance. He [the doctor] assisted in bringing the person that was on horseback into his house, and laying him upon the sofa in the parlor; that after he had taken him in, and he had lain on the sofa for some time, he was then carried up stairs, and put on a bed in what he called his front room; that he then proceeded to examine the leg, and discovered that the front bone, the outer bone, was broken nearly at right angles across the limb, about two inches above the instep. It was not a compound fracture: it seemed as slight a breaking as could possibly be, in his judgment. He said that the patient complained of pain in his back. He examined, and found no apparent cause for the pain, unless it might have been from his falling from a horse, as he said he had fallen. He said that he then dressed the limb as well as he was able to do it with the limited facilities he had, and called a young man, a hired servant,—a white servant, I think,—to make a crutch for him. The crutch was made. Breakfast was then prepared; and the younger of the two persons, the one who not injured, was invited to breakfast, and took breakfast with them. He said, that after breakfast, he observed the condition of his patient; that he seemed much debilitated; pale to such an extent that he was unable to tell which his complexion might have been, and hesitated whether to say that the skin was light or dark. After breakfast, the young man made some remark in relation to procuring a conveyance to take his friend away. He said, that, in the mean time, he had been about giving some directions to his farm servants. I think he said they remained about the house until after dinner; and some time after dinner he started with the young man to go down and see if a carriage could be procured at his father’s house; that, on the way, the young man did not stop at his [Dr. Mudd’s] father’s house, but he called his brother, the younger Mudd, found that the carriage could not be procured, and then rode on to join the young man who had gone ahead, and overtook him, and rode into the pines, a mile or a mile and half beyond the elder Mudd’s house. The young man remarked that he believed he would not go any farther to get a carriage, but would go back and see if he could not get his friend off in some way. The doctor said that he then went to the town, or near the town. I think; saw some friends or some patients, and returned to his house; that, as he came back to the house, he saw the person that he afterwards supposed to be Herold passing to the left of the house, and towards the barn or the stable; that he did not see the other person at all after he left him at the house, which was about one o’clock, I think. I should say here that he said he thought he returned to the house about four o’clock in the afternoon. I asked him then if he knew who the person was. He said that he did not recognize him. Speaking of the wounded man, he said he did not recognize him. I then exhibited what was said to be a photograph of Booth; and he said, that, from the photograph, he could not recognize him. He said, however, in answer to another question, that he met Booth some time in November. I think he said he was introduced by Mr. Thompson, a son-in-law of Dr. Queen, to Booth. I think he said the introduction took place first at the chapel or church on Sunday morning; that, after the introduction had passed between them, Thompson said, “Booth wants to buy farming-lands;” and they had some little conversation on the subject of lands; and then Booth asked the question, where there were any desirable horses that could be bought in that neighborhood cheaply; that he mentioned the name of a neighbor of his who some horses that were good travellers; and that he remained with him that night, I think, and next morning purchased one of those horses. I asked him in that connection if he could now recognize the person that he had treated as the same person to whom he was introduced as Booth. He said he could. I asked him if he had seen Booth at any time after the introduction in November, and prior to his arriving there the Saturday morning; and he said he had not. I asked him if he knew Herold; and he said he did not, and did not know that he had ever seen him; that Herold mentioned the names of several persons living in that neighborhood whose acquaintance he had made,—a merchant by the name of Moore, and some other persons there. I asked him then, if he had any suspicion of the character of either of these persons. He said he had not, but that he first thought there was something strange about them, when, shortly after breakfast, the younger man came down and asked for a razor, and said his friend wished to shave himself; and that he went up stairs shortly afterwards that the person he supposed to be Booth had shaved off his mustache. He said, in answer to the question whether the man had a beard or not, that his impression was that he had a long, heavy beard, and, referring to my own, said that he thought it was longer than mine, but that he could not observe him accurately enough to determine whether it was a natural or artificial beard; that he kept a shawl about his neck, and seemed to conceal intentionally the lower part of his face. I asked him then, if he at this time had heard of the murder of the President. He said he had not. I think, however, he remarked to me in one of these interviews, that he heard of that for the first time either on Sunday morning, or late in the evening of Saturday. I think—so my impression is—that in any event it was after the persons had left his house. I then, getting the best description I could of the locality from him, went to the house of the doctor, myself; and I asked him what these persons said in relation to the route they were to take. He said that Herold, the younger of them,—he passed by that name after the first explanations were over,—asked him the direct route to Piney Chapel, Dr. Wilmer’s, saying that he was acquainted with Dr. Wilmer. He described the main travelled road, which leads to the right of his house, and was then asked if there was not a shorter or nearer road. He said, “Yes: there is a road across the swamp that is about a mile nearer, I think.” He said it was five miles from his house to Piney Chapel by the direct road, and four miles by the marsh, and undertook to give him (as he said) a description by which they could by the nearer route. He said that the directions were these: They were to pass down by his barn, inclining to the left, and then pass straight forward in a new direction across the marsh; and that, on passing across the marsh, they would come to a hill. Keeping over the hill, they would come in sight of the roof of a barn; and letting down one or two fences, they would reach the direct road. I went to the premises, and made him point out to me the location, point out the position where they stood, and the direction that they took, and followed the direction that he pointed out. I then went with Dr. Mudd; asked him if he could show me the tracks of the horses; the bay mare that he described more particularly. He pointed the track out to me: I took that track with him, and followed it for a long way into the marsh, across the marsh on to a hill, where they turned square to the left, instead of going straight over the hill on to a piece of ploughed ground, and across the ploughed ground; and there the trail was lost, because the ground had been ploughed around it. I believe that embraces the substance of the conversation between Dr. Mudd and myself.
Q. That embraces all that occurred in the several interviews?
A. There are other detached things that occurred. For instance, the first time that I saw him, I did not know that a boot had been left at his house; but the boot was brought in, and he then said to me that his attention had been that morning called to the fact that the boot was left there; and he described the boot, and undertook to tell me how he had cut it to take the foot out.
Q. I understand you to say that Dr. Mudd stated distinctly that he had not seen Booth since that introduction in November last?
A. Yes, sir: until the Saturday morning when he arrived at his house.
Q. And that he did not recognize him?
A. No, sir: he said he did not recognize him at first; but, on reflection, he knew it was the same person.
Cross-examined by MR. EWING:
Q. Did Dr. Mudd seem unwilling to give you this information?
A. Dr. Mudd’s manner was so very extraordinary, that I scarcely know how to describe it. I will undertake, if you desire me, to do it as well as I can.
Q. I wish you would.
A. He did not seem unwilling to answer a direct question that I asked; but I discovered almost immediately, that, unless I did ask the direct question, important facts were omitted.
Q. Was he alarmed?
A. He did seem very much embarrassed.
Q. And alarmed?
A. I should think not alarmed at the first or second interview; but I think, that, at the third interview, he was, from some statements that I made to him.
Q. At what time on Friday was the first interview?
A. It was not far from mid-day: it might have been a little before or after noon.
Q. How long was it after Lieutenant Lovett had gone for Dr. Mudd?
A. I cannot remember that: I am not quite certain. I do not think I sent Lieutenant Lovett to Dr. Mudd. Lieutenant Lovett had come from Washington by one route, and I had taken another one; and, as soon as I arrived at Bryantown, I sent for Dr. Mudd. I am not quite certain whether Lieutenant Lovett was sent by me at that time or not.
Q. That was about noon on the Friday after the assassination?
A. I think the day was Friday. I am a little indistinct as to the day; but I think it was Friday. I think it was the 21st.
Q. At that interview, there was no written statement made?
A. Not at the first interview. I should say here that we kept talking for several hours. I deemed it of so much importance, that I kept talking with him for a long time,—tried to get the facts; and, after I thought I had a general statement of the facts, I had it taken down in writing.
Q. Then you had him state it over?
A. There were at least a dozen interviews between us. I had him state it over.
Q. When was the last interview?
A. The last interview was on Sunday, I think.
Q. Did you have more than one interview on Friday?
A. Oh, yes, sir! He was in my presence almost the entire time for five or six hours, talking here and talking there from time to time.
Q. You said, that, at the last interview, he was very much alarmed from some statements that you made to him. What were the statements you made to him?
A. I said that it seemed to me he was concealing the facts, and that I did not know whether he understood that that was the strongest evidence of his guilt that could be produced at that time, and might endanger his safety.
Q. When was it that you went off with Dr. Mudd, and he took you along the route that these two men took from his house?
A. On Sunday morning. I am quite confident of that.
Q. You spoke of their going the direct route toward Parson Wilmer’s, or Piney Chapel?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Parson Wilmer’s is at Piney Chapel?
A. Yes, sir: within three or four hundred yards of the chapel.
Q. You spoke of the tracks leading in the direct route towards Piney Chapel until they abruptly turned off?
A. There is no road. They took the direction pointed out by the doctor until they came to the hill, with this exception: the marsh there is filled full of holes and bad places. I discovered from the tracks, as I thought, that they had got lost there; and the reason was, that they had gone to the right to avoid a bad place, and then come back, and changed directions in that way until they had lost the general direction.
Q. You say that the doctor said to you that he heard of the assassination of the President either on Sunday morning, or late on the evening of Saturday.
A. My impression is that he told me he had not heard of it before Saturday evening or Sunday morning. I am rather inclined to the opinion that it was Saturday evening.
Q. You think he said “Saturday evening”?
A. I think he did.
Q. Did he mention how he heard it, and where?
A. No, sir: I cannot say that he did. I have an indistinct impression on the subject, though it is not worth much. It is that somebody brought the news from town,—from Bryantown; but I am not sure of that.
Q. Or was it that he heard it at the town?
A. I am not sure whether he said that he heard it at the town, or that somebody from the town brought the news to him: I am inclined to think, the latter, because I was told what expressions he made at church the next Sunday morning.
Q. Did he say when it was that Thompson introduced him to Booth,—in what month?
A. He said it was in the fall; and I think he said it was about November.
Q. Did he say whether it was before daybreak that those two persons came to his house?
A. He said it was about daybreak,—about four o’clock.
Q. Did you ask him whether they paid him any thing for setting the leg?
A. I did not ask him that question myself; but it was asked, I remember, by some person.
Q. What statement did he make?
A. I think he said twenty-five dollars.
Q. That they paid him twenty-five dollars for setting the leg?
A. Yes, sir, I think so. I think that statement was made to one of the men who were with me, but not to me directly.
Q. Did not Dr. Samuel Mudd say to you that he told Dr. George Mudd that there had been two suspicious men at his house?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did he not say to you that he told that on Saturday evening?
A. I cannot remember. I think not.
Q. On Sunday morning?
A. No, sir. I think it was later than that; but it is possible it was on Sunday, though I am not as distinct as to it.
Q. I mean to ask if he did not, in some one of your interviews, tell you that he had told that on Sunday to Dr. George Mudd?
A. My impression is that he said he told it to Dr. George Mudd on Monday; though I am not sure but that it was on Sunday.
Q. You recollect distinctly his having said that he told Dr. George Mudd?
A. Yes: he said that he told Dr. George Mudd; and he said it in this connection; I said to him, “One of the strongest circumstances against you is, that you have failed to give early information, as you might have done, in this matter;” and he mentioned then to whom he told it first, and I think he said it was Dr. George Mudd.
Q. Did he examine the likeness of Booth in your presence?
A. Yes, sir: the photograph.
Q. He recognized it as a likeness of the man to whom he had been introduced?
A. My impression is, that he said, that, from the photograph, he could not recognize him.
Q. As the man to whom he had been introduced?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did not say, that, from the photograph, he could not recognize it as the man who had his leg broken?
A. No, sir: I think he said he would not have known Mr. Booth from the photograph. I think that was what he said; and he said also, I think, that he did not recognize the man when he first saw him; but, on reflection, he knew it was Mr. Booth, the person to whom he had been introduced.
Q. Did he not say to you that that was like a likeness which he had already seen of Booth, with his named marked under it?
A. I do not remember that.
Q. Was there not intense excitement in the town among the soldiers and the people?
A. The soldiers were not particularly excited. The people were generally excited. The soldiers were very active. The town was full of soldiers and people coming and going all the while.
Q. There was a state of angry and excited feeling, was there not?
A. I do not know that there was angry feeling exhibited; but there was an excited state of feeling undoubtedly.
By the JUDGE ADVOCATE:
Q. Can you state what time Dr. Mudd professed to have recognized Booth as the man to whom he had been introduced? Was it during their stay at his house, or after they left?
A. It was during their stay at the house.
Q. You understood him to admit that he recognized him as Booth before he left.
A. Yes, sir: his expression was, that he did not recognize him at first; but, on reflecting, he remembered him as the person. I think that was about the expression.
By the COURT:
Q. Did you say that Dr. Mudd’s statement was, that, when he went to the door, there was a man standing, holding two horses, one of which had a man sitting on him?
A. I am not quite sure whether he said there was a man holding two horses, or whether there was one horse there, and he was holding one horse with the man on it. He was certainly holding one horse; but, whether he said the man was holding the other horse too, I cannot be positive.
Q. Were you at his house?
A. I was.
Q. Could he ride near enough to the door to knock?
A. No. The doctor pointed out to me a cedar-tree at which they were standing; and I should say it was certainly twenty paces.
Q. Did he speak to you of one of the parties leaving on foot on crutches?
A. He said, that, as he came up,—he was going away from the house toward his farm-hands,—he saw one of them hobbling through the yard. I think that was his expression.
Q. What did he say became of the other horse?
A. Herold had been riding the bay horse; and Herold was going off on the bay horse: the roan horse was in the stable, as he supposed.
Q. Did he find the horse at his house?
A. Not at that time, but subsequently. Both horses were at his house, and put into the stable.
Q. But did those two men go away, and leave one horse?
A. Oh, no! Booth was hobbling around from the house to the stable, which was perhaps a hundred yards from the house; and, as you get to the stable, you are lost to view from the house.
Q. Where they took Booth’s horse away?
A. That was the impression, though he said he did not see them there; and in point of fact, from the position he described them as being in, he could not see them the moment after they left his stable.
By MR. EWING:
Q. Please state, as near as you can, Dr. Mudd’s exact words when he spoke of the reflection and recollection, believing it was Booth who had been at his house.
A. Do you wish me to state all that he said?
Q. All relating to that point.
A. On showing him the photograph, he said that he should not have recollected the man from the photograph; and he said that he did not know him or remember him when he first saw him; but that, on reflection, he remembered that he was the man who was introduced to him in November last, or in the fall.
Q. Those were the words?
A. I will not quite say that they were the exact words, but as nearly as I can give them.
Q. There was nothing but that in his conversation on that point, was there?
A. That was the substance of it. Of course it was said many times over, and varied somewhat; but that was the general tenor of what he said on that subject.
Q. He did not say whether this reflection, on which he would recognize he man with the broken leg as the one to whom he been formerly introduced, was reflection after the man left or not?
A. It was, as I understood.
Q. But he did not say?
A. I think he did say. He left the impression very clearly on my mind that it was before the man left.
Q. But you are unable to say that he said that?
A. Certainly. I am not able to say that he mentioned the precise time when the reflection occurred to him, in so many words; but I know what impression the general scope and tenor of his language left on that subject. He gave as a reason for not remembering him at first, that the man was very much worn and debilitated; and he said that he seemed to make an effort to keep the lower part of his face disguised; and that when he came to think, reflect, he remembered that it was the man to whom he was introduced. He did not, however, I think, say to me that that reflection or that memory came to him at any particular moment.
Q. Did he speak of this disguise as having been thrown off or discontinued during the man’s stay in the house?
A. No, sir; not as having been discontinued. Of course the opening light of the day, the shaving of the face, and the fact that he sometimes slept and then woke, gave the doctor, as he passed into the room, better opportunities. That was the impression left on my mind. I do not think he said any thing to indicate that he, at any time, entirely threw off his attempt to disguise.
Q. He did not say that he reflected that it was Booth during the time Booth was at his house?
A. No, sir: I think I have said that he did not say that in so many words.
By the COURT:
Q. Did he, in any of his conversation, attempt to account to you for the fact that he had denied, in the first instance, any persons having been at the house?
A. I do not remember that it was ever brought to my notice that he did deny that a person had been to his house. He did not deny it to me, certainly. The Commission then adjourned until to-morrow (Wednesday) morning, May 17, at ten o’clock, a.m.