Brother of John Wilkes Booth.
In the immediate wake of the assassination of President Lincoln, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton appointed General Henry Burnett, who was Assistant Judge Advocate General, to investigate the assassination conspiracy and prosecute the conspirators. As such, it was his responsibility to identify, find and bring to justice all those who had engaged...
In the immediate wake of the assassination of President Lincoln, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton appointed General Henry Burnett, who was Assistant Judge Advocate General, to investigate the assassination conspiracy and prosecute the conspirators. As such, it was his responsibility to identify, find and bring to justice all those who had engaged in what remains the greatest crime in American history. Even as the army pursued John Wilkes Booth into Virginia, detectives working with Burnett sorted through the papers they found in Booth’s apartment seeking clues. They discovered letters from his brother Junius B. Booth, Jr. and their contents were suspicious. Junius was appearing in Cincinnati when the crime was committed and barely escaped being lynched. He fled the city while he could and headed to Philadelphia. Based on the suspicious correspondence, on April 25, with John Wilkes still alive, Burnett began a search for Junius. He first sent a telegram to General Joseph Hooker in Cincinnati asking that he seek the actor there, and if not found, try to determine where he had gone. Burnett learned he had left Cincinnati but was thought to have gone to Philadelphia, so he turned there next. He sent a telegram to Major Hayden, commander of the Philadelphia Provost Marshal’s Office, ordering that Junius be sought and arrested. Hayden then issued an order in the form of an arrest warrant to Captain Stretch, whose responsibility it would be to carry out those orders.
Letter Signed, Philadelphia, April 25, 1865, to Stretch and noted as “Confidential.”?“You will arrest Junius Brutus Booth if he can be found in your district and send him in irons to the City of Washington and this shall be your warrant.” A clerk has signed for Hayden, and as with the letter concerning Lewis Powell, this letter was certified as official by Stretch himself, whose actual signature again appears, making him in a sense both sender and recipient of this crucial communication.
Pursuant to this letter, Junius was discovered in Philadelphia, seized and carried to Washington and incarcerated in the Old Capitol Prison. General Christopher C. Augur who commanded there refused to place him in irons. Junius was interrogated and witness testimony taken concerning his potential involvement in, or at least prior knowledge of, the conspiracy. John Ford, owner of Ford’s Theater, spoke on his behalf, and in the end, no hard evidence turned up and Junius was not prosecuted. However, history has not completely absolved him. The book “Lincoln’s Assassins: A Complete Account of Their Capture, Trial, and Punishment” by Roy Chamlee takes the position that a study of the evidence indicates that Junius “certainly knew of the conspiracy.”
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