The Richmond Whig newspaper carried this article on August 4, 1865 covering the arrival of the Lincoln assassination conspirators to their prison of Fort Jefferson, Dry Tortugas:
What surprised me the most about this article is the claim that, upon reaching the island, the prisoners were relieved at finding it, “not so bad a place as they had supposed,” as it had a “fine sea breeze” and was a “very healthy” place. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Early in his memoirs, Sam Arnold accurately describes the Fort thusly:
“Without exception, it was the most horrible place the eye of man ever rested upon, where day after day, the miserable existence was being dragged out, intermixed with sickness, bodily suffering, want and pinching hunger…”
It would have been a fallacy to think that Fort Jefferson was “healthy” in any sense of the word. Scurvy, malnutrition, diarrhea, and diseases like yellow fever ran rampant. The sick were oftentimes quarantined and only aided by a handful of doctors and nurses. No one enjoyed life on Fort Jefferson. Especially not Dr. Mudd, Edman Spangler, Samuel Arnold, or Michael O’Laughlen.
Richmond Whig, 8/4/1865
Memoirs of the Lincoln Conspirators by Michael Kauffman
Fort Jefferson Historical Structures Report