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Chasing Lincoln's Killer by James L.…
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Chasing Lincoln's Killer (2009)

by James L. Swanson

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Swanson wrote Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer. This title is a condensed version of the chase written for young readers. He has made the text clear and inserted photos of the men and women involved as well including posters, maps and newspaper pages to illustrate to the reader what citizens of the period would have read to keep up with the developing story. ( )
  lamour | Apr 1, 2019 |
Chasing Lincoln’s Killer begins in 1865 at the end of the four-year Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln had led the Union forces against the Confederacy, which sought to secede from the Union. After Confederate General Robert E Lee’s surrender at the Appomattox Court House on April 9, it seemed the war would soon be at an end. Lincoln, finally feeling a lightening of his presidential responsibilities, decided to take his wife Mary Todd Lincoln to the theater on April 14, which was Good Friday. Mary Todd had been depressed since the death of their son in 1862 and Lincoln wanted to spend quality time with her. Meanwhile, one of the most celebrated actors in the country, John Wilkes Booth, was devastated by the Confederacy’s impending loss. Booth had plotted in late 1864 to kidnap President Lincoln and then use this hostage to affect the outcome of the war. He had traveled to Canada to meet with Confederate sympathizers and forge connections. He then made contact with the co-conspirators who would eventually be involved in the assassination: David Herold, Lewis Powell, George Atzerodt, the Surratt family and Dr. Samuel Mudd. The kidnapping plot had come to nothing, however, when the President changed his plans at the last minute. On March 4, 1865, and April 11, 1865, Booth watched Lincoln give his second inaugural address and a speech about voting rights for freed blacks. In each instance, he could have shot the president but did not take the opportunity.

On April 14, 1865, however, Booth seized a chance. Visiting the Ford Theatre to pick up his mail, he heard the news that the president and Mrs. Lincoln would be attending the evening performance. He quickly contacted his co-conspirators from the 1864 plot. Booth planned for coordinated attacks against several members of the executive branch. Lewis Powell and David Herold would target Secretary of State Seward for assassination; George Atzerodt would kill Vice President Johnson, and Booth himself would kill President Lincoln in his box at the theater. Atzerodt said he did not want to go through with it, but agreed to the killing after Booth threatened him. Booth also contacted Mary Surratt, who rode from her Washington boardinghouse to another inn she owned in Maryland to prepare supplies that Booth planned to pick up later that night after killing the president.

That night at the theater, everything went according to Booth’s plans. He knew the layout of the theater and the action of the play, so he was able to smoothly navigate to the president’s box and enter it. He timed the shot of his pistol for a moment when the audience would laugh uproariously at a joke made by the leading actor. With a one-shot Deringer pistol, he shot Abraham Lincoln in the back of the head, sending a large bullet into his brain and mortally wounding him. Major Henry Rathbone, who was the president’s guest at the theater that night, was the first to react. He lunged toward Booth and was stabbed viciously as the assailant made his escape. Booth jumped off the side of the presidential box onto the stage. Because Rathbone was trying to seize him, Booth landed on the stage awkwardly, breaking his leg a couple of inches above the ankle. Ignoring the pain, he yelled sic simper tyrannis, the Latin motto of the state of Virginia, meaning “thus always to tyrants.” He also shouted, “the South is avenged,” before fleeing out the back of Ford’s Theatre, menacing everyone in his way with his knife. Only one man tried to chase him, but Booth escaped on a horse he had waiting in the back alley. He rode quickly to a bridge leading across the river to Maryland and convinced the guard there to let him cross, despite a 9 PM curfew.

Meanwhile, in Maryland, Booth was relieved to meet with Herold, a much better outdoorsman than he was. The two men picked up weapons from the inn in Surrattsville that Mary Surratt had arranged to have ready, then headed to the house of Dr. Samuel Mudd. Mudd had been involved in the earlier conspiracy to kidnap Lincoln, but Booth and Herold did not tell him now that they had just committed a much more serious crime. Mudd treated Booth’s injury and the two men decided to shelter at Mudd’s until the next night. The next day, Herold and Mudd went into the nearby town of Bryantown, where Herold hoped to secure a buggy to continue traveling south. Herold, however, saw the Thirteenth New York Cavalry, which was set up the headquarters for the manhunt in Bryantown. He told Mudd he had changed his mind about getting the buggy and rushed back to Mudd’s farm to warn Booth. While going about his business in Bryantown, Mudd learned that Booth had killed the president, but he did not turn Booth in. Instead, he returned to his farm and prepared Booth to continue his escape. He sent the two fugitives to a man named Captain Cox, who he said would help them. Jones supplied Booth and Herold with a boat and told them which way to row. They tried to pay him for all that he had done for them, but he refused to profit for aiding them. He finally accepted payment for the boat. Booth and Herold rowed on the river through the dark night, but eventually realized they were going the wrong way: they were still in Maryland. Luckily for them, Herold recognized their landing spot. The two men went to stay with nearby friends. They then wasted a full day before finally making the river crossing into Virginia on the night of April 22. After that day they a female named Elizabeth. The Confederate soldier Willie Jett took Booth and Herold to the farm of the Garretts, where they enjoyed a comfortable meal and bed. The next day, however, they sparked the Garretts’ suspicions by acting panicked at the sight of cavalry officers riding by. That night, the Garretts refused to let them sleep in the house, instead of allowing them to stay in the tobacco barn. Unbeknownst to Booth and Herold, the Garretts locked them in the tobacco barn out of a fear that they would steal their horses.

Colonel Baker had heard a tip about the fugitives’ possible location and sent his cousin Luther Byron Baker to investigate along with Colonel Everton Conger and Lieutenant Edward P. Doherty. These manhunters spoke to William Rollins, who told them where they might find Willie Jett, who told the investigators where to find Booth. Booth and Herold heard the sounds of the cavalry arriving, but were unable to escape the locked barn. Herold surrendered himself, but Booth refused to come out. The manhunters wanted to take Booth alive so that he could stand trial and be executed. They decided to force him to come out by burning down the tobacco barn. As the flames surrounded him, Booth prepared to shoot as many of the Manhunters as he could. Instead, Sergeant Boston Corbett shot him. Corbett said he had acted to defend his comrades. Booth died on the farm, while Herold was taken to Washington for trial. They were later sent to jail and executed.
  AsaJ.G3 | Mar 27, 2019 |
This is a nonfiction novel that starts in the year 1865 just at the end of the Civil War. On April fourteenth (Good Friday) Lincoln decided to take his wife Mary to the movies. Mary was still depressed at the death of her son in 1862 so Lincoln just wanted to spend some quality time with her to recover from this tragedy. Meanwhile, an actor named John Wilkes Booth was devastated from the Confederacy's loss. He planned to kidnap President Lincoln and use him to affect the outcomes of the war. After the kidnap, he would contact the people who would take place in the assassination to actually assassinate him. When this plot actually took place, it came to, drum roll please, nothing. However, Lincoln changed his plans and Booth then watched him as he gave his inaugural speech. Booth took this change as an opportunity to kidnap Lincoln once more. His plan worked and Lincoln was killed along with his vice president. Dr. Samuel Mudd figured out that Booth killed Lincoln, but Mudd was actually on Booth's side. To sum things up, at the end Harold (one of the killers) and Booth was caught by some soldiers and David Harold surrended himself but Booth did not. Mary Surratt, David Harold, Lewis Powell, George (can't remember his last name), and Booth were all sentenced to the death for the killing of President Lincoln and Vice President Johnson.
Okay. To be honest, I don't like history, in general, at all. I kind of think it's boring and useless to learn. However, this book was actually quite interesting. I mean it doesn't affect the way I respect history as a whole, but it was fun to learn about the deaths of Johnson and Lincoln (not in a weird way). Just for your information, I dislike this John Wilkes Booth guy so much. I still don't understand why he would plan such a horrid thing. I mean it was also involving multiple multiple men too. Not just him and some other dude (for lack of vocabulary). But anyways it was an A-okay book and I can't wait to read nonfiction books that are actually pretty good in the future! ( )
  Hannahs.G1 | Mar 26, 2019 |
It is not that "I Really Liked IT", it is the fact that the book is interesting & detailed and not overly heavy.

The explanations of the atmosphere at the time: Lincoln was not well liked, not even by his own government; the arrogance of John Wilkes Booth; the descriptions of the others involved; the attempted assassination of William H Seward; the chase; the capture of those involved; and the killing of Booth was all very fascinating.

I don't think I'll be reading anything more on the subject, this book held as much information as I needed/wanted to know.

The author also wrote the adult non-fiction book on the same subject: "Manhunt: the 12 Day Chase of Lincoln's Killer" ( )
  Auntie-Nanuuq | Sep 24, 2018 |
RGG: Interesting account of the search for Lincoln's killer. The text lacks an index, and the jumping in scene from paragraph to paragraph is confusing. Checking the list of major participants at the front of the text and the map at the back is helpful.
  rgruberhighschool | Aug 29, 2018 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0439903548, Hardcover)

Based on rare archival material, obscure trial manuscripts, and interviews with relatives of the conspirators and the manhunters, CHASING LINCOLN'S KILLER is a fast-paced thriller about the pursuit and capture of John Wilkes Booth: a wild twelve-day chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., across the swamps of Maryland, and into the forests of Virginia.

"This story is true. All the characters are real and were alive during the great manhunt of April 1865. Their words are authentic and come from original sources: letters, manuscripts, trial transcripts, newspapers, government reports, pamphlets, books and other documents. What happened in Washington, D.C., that spring, and in the swamps and rivers, forests and fields of Maryland and Virginia during the next twelve days, is far too incredible to have been made up."

So begins this fast-paced thriller that tells the story of the pursuit and capture of John Wilkes Booth and gives a day-by-day account of the wild chase to find this killer and his accomplices. Based on James Swanson's bestselling adult book MANHUNT: THE 12-DAY CHASE FOR LINCOLN'S KILLER, this young people's version is an accessible look at the assassination of a president, and shows readers Abraham Lincoln the man, the father, the husband, the friend, and how his death impacted those closest to him.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:20 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Recounts the escape of John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln's assassin, and follows the intensive twelve-day search for him and his accomplices.

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