Biographies & Memoirs


From a research standpoint, the events before, during, and after the Lincoln assassination were ideal. The many articles and eyewitness accounts were laden with an astounding amount of information. The following list of books, websites, and other archived information reflects the main research sources for this book. It bears mentioning that visits to the Sayler’s Creek Battlefield, High Bridge, Appomattox Court House, Ford’s Theatre, and the various historical sites along John Wilkes Booth’s escape route will add immeasurably to the reader’s understanding of all that came to pass in April 1865.


The siege of Petersburg and Lee’s subsequent flight across the Virginia countryside are all very well documented. Some of the most fascinating insights came from the soldiers and generals who were there, many of whom wrote their memoirs and recollections years later. In reading them, one is transported back to that moment in time. The accounts of Sayler’s Creek and the Battle of High Bridge, in particular, are vivid portrayals of courage under fire. What follows is a brief list of the books used in our research; thanks to the magic of Google’s online books, many of the older titles can be easily accessed: Red, White and Blue Badge: Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers, by Penrose G. Mark; Confederate Veteran, by S. A. Cunningham; Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, by Robert Underwood Johnson; Pickett and His Men, by La Salle Corbett Pickett; Lee’s Last Retreat: The Flight to Appomattox, by William Marvel; Four Years Under Marse Robert, by Robert Stiles; General Lee: A Biography of Robert E. Lee, by Fitzhugh Lee; Military Memoirs of a Confederate, by Edward Porter Alexander; Meade’s

Headquarters, 1863-1865, by Theodore Lyman; Grant, by Jean Edward Smith; Lee, by Douglas Southall Freeman; Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant, by Ulysses S. Grant; From Manassas to Appomattox: The Personal Memoirs of James Longstreet, by James Longstreet; Lee’s Lieutenants: A Study in Command, by Douglas Southall Freeman and Stephen W. Sears; Tom Custer: Ride to Glory, by Carl F. Day; The Military Annals of Lancaster, Massachusetts, by Henry Steadman Norse; Biography of Francis P. Washburn, by Michael K. Sorenson; and The Memoirs of General P. H. Sheridan, by General Philip Henry Sheridan. The Virginia Military Institute’s online archive [ offers links to several more firsthand letters. In addition, the very excellent Atlas of the Civil War, by James M. McPherson, was always within arm’s reach during the writing process; it shows in great detail the battle maps and movements of two great armies.


Writing about the chaotic final days of Lincoln’s life meant accessing all manner of research, from online documents (such as the New York Times‘s findings about Lincoln’s Baptist upbringing) to websites devoted to the Lincoln White House (in particular, www.mrlincolnswhitehouse.orgprovided a treasure trove of information about everything from floor layouts to daily life, very often told in first-person accounts). The number of websites and easily accessed online articles is endless, and hundreds were scrutinized during the writing of this book.

The reader searching for an overview of April 1865 is encouraged to read the aptly named April 1865, by Jay Winik, which frames the events quite well. Other books of note: “They Have Killed Papa Dead,”by Anthony S. Pitch, and American Brutus, by Michael W. Kauffman; Team of Rivals, by Doris Kearns Goodwin; Lincoln’s Last Month, by William C. Harris; Lincoln’s Body Guard: The Union Light Guard of Ohio, by Robert McBride; and Blood on the Moon: The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, by Edward Steers. For a compelling history of Washington, D.C., itself, the reader is encouraged to find a copy of Washington Schlepped Here, by Christopher Buckley.


For an hour-by-hour description of April 15, 1865, see the excellent A. Lincoln: His Last 24 Hours, by W. Emerson Reck; The Day Lincoln Was

Shot, by Jim Bishop; Lincoln’s Last Hours, by Charles Augustus Leale; and Abraham Lincoln, by Carl Sandburg.

Of great interest are titles that offer conflicting viewpoints of the assassination, the motivations, and the people involved. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of researching the Lincoln assassination was poring over the many very good books dedicated to this topic and the shock of discovering that many disagree completely with one another. Dark Union, by Leonard Guttridge and Ray Neff, and Spies, Traitors, and Moles, by Peter Kross are two of the more controversial titles.

For information on Mary Surratt, see Assassin’s Accomplice, by Kate Clifford Larson.

Part Four: THE CHASE

The search for Lincoln’s killers and their subsequent trial was vividly portrayed in Kauffman’s American Brutus and James L. Swanson’s Manhunt. Potomac Diary, by Richtmyer Hubbell, provides fascinating insights into the mood in Washington. History of the United States Secret Service,by Lafayette Baker, is a rather verbose and self-aggrandizing account of Baker’s exploits. Also of note: Beware the People Weeping, by Thomas Reed Turner; Lincoln Legends, by Edward Steers; Right or Wrong, God Judge Me: The Writings of John Wilkes Booth, by John Wilkes Booth; The Life of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, by Samuel A. Mudd; and Lincoln’s Assassins, by Roy Z. Chamlee

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