While I take a sympathetic and pragmatic approach to Dr. Mudd when it comes to his knowledge of the assassination of Lincoln, from time to time I think it’s important to point out the fallacy of the “simple, country doctor” mystique that has crept up around him. The following is an excerpt from Dr. Edward Steers, Jr.’s wonderful book, His Name is Still Mudd. It succinctly states the evidence demonstrating Dr. Mudd’s involvement in John Wilkes Booth’s initial plot to abduct President Lincoln. What follows after is an account written by George Alfred Townsend, GATH, in which the meeting between Dr. Mudd, Booth and Thomas Harbin is described.
“Mudd’s knowledge of, and acquaintance with John Wilkes Booth:
1. The meeting in November 1864, in which Booth is first introduced to Mudd at St. Mary’s Church in Bryantown.
2. The meeting at the Bryantown Tavern in mid-December 1864, (December 17-21) where Dr. Mudd introduced Booth to Thomas Harbin [see account of this meeting below], and when Booth spent the night at Mudd’s house and later purchased the one-eyed horse from his neighbor, George Gardiner
3. The December 23, 1864 trip to Washington where Mudd meets Booth at the National Hotel and introduces him to Confederate agent John H. Surratt, Jr.
Whether Mudd knew that Booth murdered Lincoln, and when he knew it:
- Samuel Mudd’s statement that he heard of the assassination while in Bryantown on Saturday afternoon (April 15th)
- Francis R. Farrell’s testimony in which he states that Mudd told both himself, and John F. Hardy on Saturday afternoon that a man named Booth had murdered Lincoln.
- Samuel Cox, Jr.’s statement that Mudd told him, in 1877, that while in Bryantown on Saturday afternoon, April 15th, Mudd had heard of the assassination of President Lincoln, and that John Wilkes Booth was the assassin.
- Samuel Cox, Jr.’s statement that Mudd told him that when he learned Booth was the assassin he returned home and ordered Booth out of his house.
- Captain George W. Dutton’s affidavit that Mudd told him on July 22, 1865, that he knew it was Booth whose leg he had set at his home on Saturday, April 15th.
Evidence linking Mudd to Booth’s conspiracy to capture President Lincoln:
- Mudd’s introduction of Thomas Harbin to Booth.
- Mudd’s introduction of John H. Surratt, Jr. to Booth.
- Samuel Cox, Jr.’s statement which quotes Mudd as saying that he went into Bryantown on Saturday, April 15th, to mail contraband letters which he had received earlier.
- George Atzerodt’s “lost confession” in which Atzerodt states that Booth had sent provisions to Dr. Mudd’s house to be used for their flight to Virginia.
- Dr. Richard Stuart’s deposition which states that Herold had told him that Dr. Mudd had referred Booth and Herold to Dr. Stuart, implying that Booth would receive medical assistance.
- William Bryant’s statement that the two fugitives were referred to Dr. Stuart for medical assistance.”
– Dr. Edward Steers, Jr. in His Name is Still Mudd
“After church that day Booth went into Bryantown, a mile or two distant, and in plain sight, and was introduced by Dr. Mudd at the village hotel to Mr. Thomas Harbin, the Marylander, who was the principal signal officer or spy with the lower Maryland counties.
Toward the close of the war rigorous policing of the lower Maryland country was relaxed or dispensed with, as the enemy had been pushed south of the James River and seldom molested the Potomac paris. Harbin, whom I talked to at great length just before he died, about 1885, gave me particulars concerning Booth, which would now be past discovering. He told me that in Bryantown, at the tavern, Dr. Mudd introduced him to Booth, and said that Mr. Booth wanted some private conversation with Harbin; they took a room on the second floor, where Booth went through the thespian motions of pacing and watching the hallways and escapements. He then outlined a scheme of seizing Abraham Lincoln and delivering him up the same evening in Virginia. He said that he had come down to that country to invite co-operation and partners, and intimated that there was not only glory, but profit in the undertaking.
Harbin was a cool man who had seen many liars and rogues go to and fro on that illegal border and he sat down Booth as a crazy fellow, but at the same time said that he would give his co-operation.”
– GATH dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, April 18th, 1892