Capture Of Samuel B Arnold One Of The Conspirators Sent To Dry Tortugas
The saddest day in our nation's history was Friday, April 14th, 1865.
Early in the evening I was introduced to General Grant, in his private
car; he was on his way from Washington to Philadelphia. The private car
was standing on Howard just north of Camden Street. At that time the
cars of through trains were hauled through Baltimore by horses up
Howard, down Pratt to President Street, and to the depot.
Wm. G. Woodside, the paymaster of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad,
had asked me if I would like to be introduced to the General. We entered
the car from the rear door. I do not remember there being any person in
the car except the General and Mrs. Grant. It was understood in
Washington that General Grant was to have accompanied the President to
the theatre that evening.
We retired at about 10 o'clock, prepared to start the next morning,
Saturday, the 15th, for the northern neck of Virginia, with Morgan, as
outlined in the file preceding. Soon after retiring we were informed of
the assassination. There is no word in the language to describe the
shock I felt. I put on my clothes and did not take them off again until
Wednesday, the 19th. Adjutant General Lawrence sent for me, and
instructed me to abandon my trip to the Northern Neck.
The following telegram came early Saturday morning; in it Paine is
described quite perfectly, but at that time I had no idea that he was
the person described:
United States Military Telegram,
Apl. 15, 1865.
The following is a description of the assassin of the Hon. W.
H. Seward, Secretary of State, and Hon. Frederick W. Seward,
Assistant Secretary. You will use every exertion in your power
and call to your aid the entire force under your control to
secure the arrest of the assassin.
Height 6-1/2 feet, black hair, thick, full, and straight. No
beard, nor appearance of beard. Cheeks red on the jaws, and
face moderately full. 22 or 23 years of age. Eyes, color not
known, large eyes, not prominent. Brows not heavy, but dark.
Face not large, but rather round. Complexion healthy. Nose
straight and well formed. Medium sized mouth, small lip, thin
upper lip, protrudes when he talks. Chin pointed and
prominent. Head of medium size. Neck short and of medium
length. Hands small and fingers tapering, showed no signs of
hard labor. Broad shoulders, taper waist, straight figure,
strong looking man; manner not gentlemanly, but vulgar.
Overcoat double breasted, color mixed of pink and grey spots,
small; was a sack overcoat, pockets inside and on breast, with
lapels or flaps. Pants, black, common stuff. New heavy boots.
Voice small, inclined to tenor.
(Signed) N. S. JEFFRIES,
A. P. M. G.
Headquarters, Middle Department
8th Army Corps.
Baltimore, Apl. 16, 1865.
I have some important intelligence, send Lieut. Smith to me at
SAMUEL B. LAWRENCE,
A. A. G.
The information was about a letter that had been found in Booth's trunk,
written from Hookstown, Md., from Samuel Arnold, showing his
(Arnold's) complicity in the assassination.
I at once, with one of my men, Mr. Babcock, went to Hookstown. We
avoided our pickets, traveled across country, and reached Arnold's home
about noon. We sat down, as if to rest, on Arnold's porch, asking no
questions, but waited to be questioned. A colored woman opened the door,
and I asked her if she would give us something to eat, for money. She
agreed and invited us into the sitting room, while she prepared
something for us.
There was no white person about. We ate and visited, she questioning us
about the murder, and we cautioning her. Finally, when we were about to
leave, we told her we knew Mr. Arnold. She said he had gone away some
days since to Old Point Comfort. Our purpose was accomplished. It is not
necessary to say we hurried.
Everybody bound for Old Point had to get a pass at our office. A record
was kept of each, together with the name of a person as reference. An
examination of the register disclosed at once Samuel B. Arnold's name,
vouched for by Mr. Wharton ("Wickey" Wharton), whom we knew; he was
sutler at Old Point. We wired to him to know where Arnold was. He
replied: "A clerk in my employ." We then wired for his arrest.
He was arrested and sent to Baltimore on the Bay Line boat, reaching
Baltimore on the 18th.
The following was my order to go to Washington with him:
Headquarters, Middle Department,
8th Army Corps.
Office Provost Marshal,
Baltimore, Apl. 18, 1865.
Lieut. H. B. Smith (in citizen's clothes) and officer Babcock,
will accompany the officer in charge of S. B. Arnold, to
Washington, to aid in securing Arnold's safe delivery. The
duty performed they will return to these headquarters without
By command of Bvt. Brigadier General Morris.
Lt. Col. Chf. Staff Prov. Mar.
Arnold was sentenced to Dry Tortugas for life. Following is a copy of
Arnold's letter, found in Booth's trunk:
Hookstown, Baltimore County, Md.,
March 27, 1865.
Was business so important that you could not remain in
Baltimore till I saw you? I came in as soon as I could, but
found you had gone to W----n. I called also to see Mike, but
learned from his mother he had gone out with you, and had not
returned. I concluded, therefore, he had gone with you.
How inconsiderate you have been. When I left you, you stated
we would meet in a month or so. Therefore I made application
for employment, an answer to which I shall receive during the
week. I told my parents I had ceased with you.
Can I then, under existing circumstances, come as you
requested? You know full well that the G----t suspicions
something is going on there; therefore the undertaking is
becoming more complicated. Why not, for the present desist,
for various reasons? which, if you look into, you can readily
see without my making any mention thereof to you. Nor anyone
can censure me for my present course. You have been its cause,
for how can I now come after telling them I had left you?
Suspicion rests on me now, from my whole family, and even
parties in the country. I will be compelled to leave home,
anyhow, and how soon I care not.
None, no, not one, were more in favor of the enterprise than
myself, and to-day would be there, had you not done as you
have--by this, I mean, manner of proceeding.
I am, as you well know, in need. I am, you may say, in rags,
whereas to-day I ought to be well clothed.
I do not feel right stalking about without means, and more
from appearance a beggar. I feel my independence; but even all
this would be, and was forgotten, for I was one with you.
Time more propitious will arrive yet. Do not act rashly or in
haste. I would prefer your first query, "Go and see how it
will be taken at R----d," and ere long I shall be better
prepared to again be with you. I dislike writing; would sooner
verbally make known my views, yet you know writing causes me
thus to proceed.
Do not in anger peruse this, weigh all I have said, and as a
rational man and a friend, you cannot censure or upbraid my
conduct. I sincerely trust this, nor naught else that shall or
may occur, will ever be an obstacle to obliterate our former
friendship and attachment.
Write me to Baltimore, as I expect to be in about Wednesday or
Thursday, or, if you can possibly come on, I will Tuesday meet
you in Baltimore at B----. Ever I subscribe myself,
Notwithstanding the opprobrium attaching to the name, Arnold, in
American history, I have always looked upon this Arnold with some
feelings of pity.
The following account of Paine's arrest is borrowed from Mr. Osborn H.
Oldroyd's "Assassination of Abraham Lincoln":
The doorbell of Mrs. Surratt's house, No. 541 (now No. 604) H
Street, N. W., was rung by Major H. W. Smith, in company with
other officers, about eleven o'clock Monday night, the 17th.
When the bell rang, Mrs. Surratt appeared at the window and
said: "Is that you, Mr. Kirby"? The reply was that it was not
Mr. Kirby, and to open the door. She opened the door, and was
asked: "Are you Mrs. Surratt?" She said: "I am the widow of
John H. Surratt." The officer added, "And the mother of John
H. Surratt, Jr.?" She replied: "I am." Major Smith said: "I
come to arrest you and all in your house, and take you for
examination to General Augur's headquarters." No inquiry
whatever was made as to the cause of arrest. Mr. R. C. Morgan,
in the service of the War Department, made his appearance at
the Surratt house a few minutes later, sent under orders to
superintend the seizure of papers and the arrest of the
inmates. While the officers were in the house a knock and ring
were heard at the door, and Mr. Morgan and Captain
Wermerskirch stepped forward and opened the door, and Lewis
Payne stepped in with a pickax over his shoulder, dressed in a
gray coat and vest and black trousers. As he had left his hat
in the house of Secretary Seward, he had made one out of the
sleeve of a shirt or the leg of a drawers, pulling it over his
head like a turban. He said he wished to see Mrs. Surratt, and
when asked what he came that time of night for, he replied he
came to dig a gutter, as Mrs. Surratt had sent for him in the
morning. When asked where he boarded, he said he had no
boarding house, that he was a poor man, who got his living
with the pick. Mr. Morgan asked him why he came at that hour
of the night to go to work? He said he simply called to find
out what time he should go to work in the morning. When asked
if he had any previous acquaintance with Mrs Surratt, he
answered, "No," but said that she knew he was working around
the neighborhood and was a poor man, and came to him. He gave
his age as twenty, and was from Fauquier County, Virginia, and
pulled out an oath of allegiance, and on it was "Lewis Payne,
Fauquier County, Virginia." Mrs. Surratt was asked whether she
knew him, and she declared in the presence of Payne, holding
up her hands: "Before God, I have never seen that man before;
I have not hired him; I do not know anything about him." Mrs.
Surratt said to Mr. Morgan: "I am so glad you officers came
here to-night, for this man came here with a pickax to kill
From Mrs. Surratt's house Payne was taken to the provost
marshal's office. Mrs. Surratt was informed that the carriage
was ready to take her to the provost marshal's office, and
she, with her daughter Annie, Miss Honora Fitzpatrick, and
Miss Olivia Jenkins (the latter two boarded at the house),
were driven away.
The telegram received on Saturday morning the 15th, giving a description
of the person who tried to kill Secretary Seward, was quite accurate,
considering it was made by persons under great excitement. The oath of
allegiance which Paine pulled out of his pocket when arrested, was the
document issued from our office. He had erased, however, the restriction
which ordered that he was to "go north of Philadelphia and remain during
Before telling of what I did after discovering Paine to be the person I
had released on March 14th, I want you to read the account Mr. Oldroyd
gives of his clumsily brutal attack on Secretary Seward:
"Lewis Payne (his real name was Lewis Thornton Powell),
boarded at the Horndon House, corner Ninth and F Streets,
where the Loan and Trust Building now stands, for two weeks,
leaving there on the afternoon of April 14th. He paid his bill
at four o'clock, and requested dinner before the regular time,
and it was served to him.
Very little is known of his whereabouts from that time until
10 P. M., when he rang the bell of the Seward mansion, which
stood on the ground now occupied by the Lafayette Opera
When the door was opened by the colored doorkeeper, Payne
stepped in, holding a little package in his hand, saying that
he had some medicine for Secretary Seward, sent by Dr. Verdi,
which he was directed to deliver in person and give
instructions how it was to be taken.
The doorkeeper informed him that he could not see Mr. Seward,
but he repeated the words, saying he must see him. He talked
very roughly for several minutes against the protest of the
doorkeeper, who said he had positive orders to admit no one to
The doorkeeper finally weakened, thinking perhaps he was sent
by Dr. Verdi, and let him ascend the stairs. When at the top,
he met Mr. Frederick Seward, a son of the Secretary's to whom
he told the object of his visit, but Mr. Seward told him that
he could not see his father; that he was asleep, but to give
him the medicine and he would take it to him. That would not
do; he must see Mr. Seward; and then Mr. Seward said: "I am
the proprietor here, and his son; if you cannot leave your
message with me, you cannot leave it at all."
Payne started downstairs, and after taking a few steps,
suddenly turned around and struck Mr. Frederick Seward,
felling him to the floor. Sergeant George F. Robinson, acting
as attendant nurse to Mr. Seward, was in an adjoining room,
and on hearing the noise in the hall opened the door, where he
found Payne close up to it. As soon as the door was opened, he
struck Robinson in the forehead with a knife, knocking him
partially down, and pressed past him to the bed of Mr. Seward,
where he leaned over it and struck him three times in the neck
with his dagger.
Mr. Seward had been out riding shortly before the fatal day,
and had been thrown from his carriage with great violence,
breaking an arm and fracturing his jaw. The physician had
fixed up a steel mask or frame to hold the broken bones in
place while setting. The assassin's dagger cut his face from
the right cheek down to the neck, and but for this steel
bandage, which deflected two of the stabs, the assassin might
have accomplished his purpose.
The carriage disaster was after this night almost considered a
blessing in disguise. Frederick Seward suffered intensely from
a fracture of the cranium. The nurse attempted to haul Payne
off the bed, when he turned and attacked him the second time.
During this scuffle Major Augustus H. Seward, son of Secretary
Seward, entered the room and clinched Payne, and between the
two they succeeded in getting him to the door, when he broke
away and ran downstairs and outdoors.
The colored doorkeeper ran after the police or guards when
Frederick Seward was knocked down, and returned and reported
that he saw the man riding a horse and followed him to I
Street, where he was lost sight of.
In some way Payne's horse got away from him, for a little
after one o'clock on the morning of the 15th Lieutenant John
F. Toffey, on going to the Lincoln Hospital, East Capitol and
Fifteenth Streets, where he was on duty, found a dark bay
horse, with saddle and bridle on, standing at Lincoln Branch
Barracks. The horse no doubt came in on a sort of byroad that
led to Camp Barry, which turned north from the Branch Barracks
towards the Bladensburg road. The sweat pouring from the
animal had made a regular puddle on the ground. A sentinel at
the hospital had stopped the horse. Lieutenant Toffey and
Captain Lansing, of the 13th New York Cavalry, took the horse
to the headquarters of the picket at the Old Capitol Prison,
and from there to General E. O. C. Ord's headquarters. After
reaching there, they discovered that the horse was blind of
one eye, which identified it as the one Booth purchased in
November, 1864, from Squire George Gardiner."
Immediately upon the identification of Paine I arrested the Bransons and
all the occupants of their fashionable boarding house, No. 16 North
Eutaw Street. Following is a list of the persons arrested:
Mrs. M. A. Branson,
Miss M. A. Branson,
Miss Maggie Branson,
Mrs. Thomas Hall,
Miss Josephine Hall,
Mr. Joseph Branson, Jr.,
Mr. C. H. Morgan,
Mr. C. S. Shriver,
Mr. Chas. Ewart,
Mr. C. E. Barnett,
Mr. J. C. Hall,
Mr. W. H. Ward,
Mr. E. A. Willer,
Mr. C. H. Croyean,
Mr. Aug. Thomas,
Mr. Thos. Hall,
Mr. S. T. Morgan,
Mr. H. D. Shriver.
I began my examination of the individuals in the house, seeking to find
who, if any, were intimate with Paine, and might, therefore, have had
some knowledge of the crime "before the fact."
Not all of these people were known to be disloyal. Messrs. C. H. Morgan,
S. T. Morgan, C. S. Shriver and H. D. Shriver are marked on my list as
"loyal," and there may have been others.
I have a lead pencil memorandum of the examination in the house (No. 16
North Eutaw Street) but it is so disjointed as to be unintelligible, and
I will not put it in here. Finding that the most valuable source of
information was the Bransons, I released all others, resuming the
examination of Miss Maggie Branson in my office where I could be more
Her statement is mixed and disjointed and there are repetitions. It took
me much time to elicit the facts. She broke down and wanted me to
destroy a great part of her statement and let her replace it with a
truthful one, which I refused, requiring that all she had said should be
Examination of Miss Maggie Branson.
"I was at the General Hospital at Gettysburg about six weeks
in 1863. I was there in the capacity of nurse. I don't know
any of the surgeons except Dr. Simley, of Philadelphia, who
would remember me. I went there to assist all the wounded
soldiers. While there I saw a man known as Lewis Payne; he
went by the name of "Doctor" and "Powell," he wore a pair of
blue pants, I think, and a slouch hat; I did not have much
talk with him while there.
"I did not learn during the time I was there what he was. I
don't remember of giving him my address. Sometime in the same
year, after the above named occurrence, I saw him at our
house; he called to see me. I can scarcely remember how he was
dressed; but I think in a Federal uniform. I think he was
stopping at Miller's Hotel.
"He said he wanted to cross the lines but did not say where
to, nor in what direction; he did not tell me where his home
was; I don't remember what I replied.
I did not ask him anything about his intentions as to crossing
the lines. I don't know that he told me what his intentions
were; it was in the afternoon when he called. He again called
at our house about the middle of January, 1865; he was dressed
in black clothes; he said he was from Fauquier County,
Virginia; he said he had just come in on the cars, and he
wanted to board, but we could not at that time accommodate
him; there was no one else present; he said he was a refugee
and had his papers; he wanted to show them to me.
He said at Gettysburg that his name was Powell; on his second
visit at the house he said his name was Payne."
At this point in the examination Miss Branson broke down. She realized
that I was drawing her into a net of contradictions, and she thereafter
proposed to be more frank and truthful with me.
"He said his father was a Baptist clergyman; said he had two
brothers that were killed in the army; it is my impression
that they were in the Confederate Army.
"He said a great deal of Mosby, and I should judge by his talk
that he belonged to Mosby's Command. I have some slight
recollection of his saying that he assisted in capturing a
wagon train and some amount of newspapers on one occasion.
"I have occasionally walked out with him. I called once or
twice at Mrs. Heim, No. ---- Race Street, with him, we saw
Charles and William Heim there; he did not see Mr. Heim, he
(Heim) was in Richmond; I never saw any one else there when I
went with Mr. Payne. He told me that his proper name was
Powell; he said this when he came here this year.
"We also called on Mrs. Mantz, on Baltimore Street, near Green
Street. I introduced him there as Mr. Payne. I might have
called twice at this place. I often went to church with him.
He was arrested at our house on March 12th, 1865, by Colonel
Woolley's officers. I saw him after his release, on the day he
was released; I have not seen him since. I heard from him only
once, that was by a letter to my sister from New York.
"I have sent provisions, &c., to prisoners of war at Fort
McHenry and Johnson's Island. I consider myself loyal. I have
a great many friends in the South, and many relatives. I have
never taken the oath of allegiance.
"Mr. E. W. Blair used to meet Mr. Payne at the house very
often. On one occasion he went with him to the theatre. Mr.
Chas. G. Heim used to call on us and would see Mr. Payne.
"If he had on a blue uniform when he came from Gettysburg, it
was worn to aid him in getting South; it was not worn to act
as a spy. I am confident that he never was North before. My
sister said she thought at Gettysburg that he was a Federal
doctor. Some called him Powell; I think he was introduced to
me as Powell when he first came to our house. I think his
correct name is Powell; he said his father was a Baptist
minister, that he had lost two brothers in the war and that he
did not know but that a third. His name may be Lewis Payne
Powell. When he came to our house to board this year it was
about the last days of January. Before coming there he boarded
at Miller's Hotel about ten days. He called on us several
times while he was boarding at Miller's Hotel. Sister or I
entertained him when he came; his talk was principally of the
ladies; he complained of his education.
"After he came to our house to board I introduced him to the
boarders as Mr. Payne. I said to Miss Hall, one of the
boarders, that he (Payne) was from Frederick County, Md.
"He was not particularly intimate with any one of the
boarders. He was acquainted with all of them. My sister played
chess with him; Mr. Barnett played with him. I have seen him
speak to Mr. Joseph Thomas. I do not think they were intimate.
I have spent considerable time with him. I think I spent more
time with him than my sister or any of the other parties in
the house. I walked with him very often. I was accompanied by
Mr. Payne over in old town, on a matter of business, to employ
some servants. I proposed to call on my cousin, Mrs. Dukehart,
corner of Fayette and East Streets, and he agreed. I left him
in the parlor alone, and went up stairs to see the family, and
staid a short time and left. I am sure not a member of the
family saw him; in the evening we called again. I called with
him on Mrs. Heim on Paca Street, I might have called several
times, we took tea there once; at other times only made short
calls, at no time when we called was there any visitors there.
Mr. Heim's business was in Richmond. Mr. Payne went to New
York before Mr. Heim came home from Richmond. Mrs. Heim knew
Mr. Payne was from Virginia. I don't know that she knew he was
in the Rebel Army. I do not think Charles G. Heim was at any
time home, when we called.
"We (Mr. Payne and I) called on Mrs. Mentz, on Baltimore
Street; she is my aunt. I think we called on her twice. She
knew he was from Virginia. I don't know that my sister ever
went out with Mr. Payne. I don't remember going to any other
place except to church. I went several times; do not know
exactly how many.
"I remember his arrest on or about March 12, 1865, by Colonel
Woolley. I came to this office and saw Lieut. Smith, about
Mr. Paine. I thought he was arrested through malice on account
of his whipping a colored servant in our house; that was very
saucy. I told Lieut. Smith that he (Paine) had not been North
before since the war commenced. I at the same time knew he
had; I did this to shield him from harm. After his release he
came to our house and left almost immediately. My impression
is that he went directly to New York.
"After he arrived there he wrote me from the Revere House,
directing me to address him at Revere House. I wrote him one
letter; I addressed him as Lewis Payne. I never heard from him
again, never saw him again after he left for New York; no one
that I know saw him. I have always been a Rebel sympathizer. I
have sent provisions, &c., to Confederate Prisoners at Forts
McHenry and Delaware, Johnson's Island, Camp Chase, and
Elmira, but only on permission of the military authorities."
When she had finished she was anxious to learn what I thought the
Government would do to her. I informed her that she was responsible for
Paine's acts; that if she had told me the truth when I had him in
arrest, he would have been kept in arrest, and could not have attempted
to assassinate Secretary Seward.
Miss Branson was detained a long time. Whenever you hear Paine spoken of
in history as "Powell, the son of a Baptist minister" you will now
recognize where the information came from.
The following from the New York "Tribune," April 29th, 1865, describes
one of those who had knowledge before the act. He had been intimate with
Paine, and undoubtedly we were creeping up too dangerously near him. The
suicide was buried in Greenmount Cemetery, and in the darkness of night
we dug the body up as mentioned by the "Tribune." This was the only time
I ever acted the part of a ghoul. If I remember right, the man was a
builder and committed suicide out behind a barn in the country:
Suicide in Baltimore.
"A well known citizen of Baltimore committed suicide last
Monday, a short distance from this city, by shooting himself
with a pistol. No cause could be assigned for the rash act
except that he had recently seemed depressed and melancholy.
Subsequent events have induced the suspicion that he was
someway implicated in the conspiracy, and last night the body
was exhumed, embalmed, and sent to Washington, by orders of
the Government. The affair causes much speculation, and there
are many reports in connection with it as well as some facts
which it is deemed imprudent to publish at present."
(New York Tribune, April 29, 1865.)
Paine was hanged, along with Mrs. Surratt, Herold and Atzerodt.
Considerable silly sentiment was manufactured in Mrs. Surratt's case; it
was entirely wasted. If you will carefully examine her record you will
say that her sex should not excuse such cold-blooded villainy. General
Wallace was second in rank on the commission that tried the
When President Lincoln's remains were lying in state in the rotunda of
the Exchange in Baltimore, I remained at his head long hours, watching
the faces of the people passing. Truly they were mourners, not the idle,
curious, nor frivolous of mankind.
It had been intimated that the procession of people might be turned into
a mockery. That mock ceremonies elsewhere would be attempted by some
relentless furies. But even the suggestion was unhealthy. As a matter of
history one of the earliest expressions of regret came from the
Confederate prisoners of war confined at Point Lookout. Was ever man
more universally loved?