Biographies & Memoirs

CHAPTER FIFTY-FIVE

TUESDAY, APRIL 18, 1865 

MARYLAND COUNTRYSIDE 

AFTERNOON

The moment Dr. Samuel Mudd has been dreading for two days comes while he is in the fields, working his crops. The cavalry unit galloping up his driveway is not there by accident. There are at least two dozen riders, not including his cousin George. It was George to whom Mudd confided that two strangers had spent the night of Lincoln’s assassination in his home. They spoke after Easter services, even as Booth and Herold were still very much in the vicinity. Mudd took pains to state that his life was in danger, should these two men ever come back. The story was a cover, intended to make it look as if he had no knowledge of the strangers’ identities. It was Mudd’s hope that George would act as an intermediary, alerting the police to the fact that his Good Samaritan cousin might just have “accidentally” aided the men who killed Lincoln.

George, however, is a devoted Union sympathizer. Instead of the police, George has brought the cavalry, with their rifles, sabers, and no-nonsense military bearing. The riders dismount. Lieutenant Alexander Lovett is in charge and quickly begins a line of questioning to determine exactly who and what Samuel Mudd saw that night.

Mudd is not a brave man and is quickly rattled. His lips turn blue, even as his face turns chalk white. The story he fabricated and rehearsed in his head so many times suddenly eludes him. Rather than present himself as eager for the “entire strangers” to be captured, Mudd is vague and contrary. He mentions that one stranger had a broken leg and that he had done the neighborly thing by splinting it before sending the men on their way. When Lovett asks him to repeat parts of the story, Mudd frequently contradicts his own version of events.

Lieutenant Lovett is positive that Samuel Mudd is lying. But he does not arrest him—not now, at least. He is determined to find evidence that will link Mudd to the two strangers. He bawls the order to mount up, and the cavalry trots back out to the main road.

Mudd, his heart beating in relief, can only wonder when they will return.

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