Civil War Interactive Discussion Board Home
Home Search search Menu menu Not logged in - Login | Register


The Provenance of John Wilkes Booth's Gun - Weapons of the Civil War - Civil War Talk - Civil War Interactive Discussion Board
 Moderated by: javal1
 New Topic   Reply   Printer Friendly 
 Rate Topic 
AuthorPost
 Posted: Tue Dec 31st, 2013 06:33 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
1st Post
wondering
Member


Joined: Tue Dec 31st, 2013
Location: Alberta Canada
Posts: 95
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

I was just wondering if anyone knows the provenance of J.W. Booth's derringer? The stock seems chipped, damaged. Was that the condition it was in when it fired the fatal shot? How many times might this gun have been used before it landed in that most ignominious circumstance? Does anyone know where it came from and what led to J.W. acquiring it? Just curious, thank-you.



 Posted: Wed Jan 1st, 2014 04:59 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
2nd Post
Hellcat
Root Beer Lover


Joined: Tue Nov 15th, 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 867
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

Right now all I can come up with is this website, http://rogerjnorton.com/Lincoln10.html

Edit: Found this: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/lab/forensic-science-communications/fsc/jan2001/schehl.htm/

Last edited on Wed Jan 1st, 2014 05:06 pm by Hellcat



 Posted: Wed Jan 1st, 2014 06:00 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
3rd Post
wondering
Member


Joined: Tue Dec 31st, 2013
Location: Alberta Canada
Posts: 95
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

The FBI article is extremely interesting. Sort of working on a screenplay about the conspirators (no promises), but just wishing I could find out where/how J.W. acquired it. I suppose we shall never know ...

Thank-you for the links, Hellcat, and all the best in the New Year. :)



 Posted: Wed Jan 1st, 2014 07:49 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
4th Post
Hellcat
Root Beer Lover


Joined: Tue Nov 15th, 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 867
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

Not really about the Derringer, but you said you're attempting to write a screenplay so this might be of some interest. Keep in mind, however, that it was written 1865. So just how much in it is factual and how much was put forward at that time as factual but may not have actually been is a question mark. https://ia700401.us.archive.org/2/items/lifecrimecapture00town/lifecrimecapture00town.pdf



 Posted: Thu Jan 2nd, 2014 04:23 am
   PM  Quote  Reply 
5th Post
wondering
Member


Joined: Tue Dec 31st, 2013
Location: Alberta Canada
Posts: 95
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

I wonder if anyone could hazard a guess on the odds/reasons for Lewis Payne's 1858 Whitney Navy Revolver misfiring? (and thanks again for the detailed contemporary account, Hellcat).

Last edited on Thu Jan 2nd, 2014 04:37 pm by wondering



 Posted: Thu Jan 2nd, 2014 06:27 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
6th Post
wondering
Member


Joined: Tue Dec 31st, 2013
Location: Alberta Canada
Posts: 95
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

Booth has been vilified by history, justifiably so. But to the moment of assassination he was a man, felt himself sincere and courageous like so many others, battling the cavalcade of emotions brought on by war's end. Shakespearean hero, indeed -- until he pulled the trigger. Only then could darkness slowly consume his heart (as it did Macbeth's). By the Garrett Farm even he understood the damnable tragedy he had perpetrated.

Lessons might still be drawn in the winds atop old Maryland pine. Thanks for making me feel welcome, Hellcat. I like it here, it's quiet, and quite cool. ;)

Last edited on Thu Jan 2nd, 2014 06:38 pm by wondering



 Posted: Thu Jan 2nd, 2014 09:38 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
7th Post
Johan Steele
Life NRA,SUVCW # 48,Legion 352


Joined: Sat Dec 2nd, 2006
Location: South Of The North 40, Minnesota USA
Posts: 1065
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

I've always wondered if Booth didn't believe himself a bit of a coward, after all he had ample opportunity to enlist in the CS military and never chose to. With the ultimate testement of his courage being the assassination of the President... though his method would forever brand him a coward.

As an actor perhaps he believed himself above the germane roll of an anonymous soldier in the ranks. Some have said he was under the employ of the CS but I have always doubted this. I've never thought much of the man and nothing I have read to date has changed my opinion of him.



 Posted: Fri Jan 3rd, 2014 02:47 am
   PM  Quote  Reply 
8th Post
wondering
Member


Joined: Tue Dec 31st, 2013
Location: Alberta Canada
Posts: 95
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

Your views strike home, Johan. I concur it must have haunted him, the noncommittal ennui of a wartime actor's existence. I also believe he was not active as spy or courier, let alone soldier, more so, one act of "bravery" might wash away the stain. He wanted Shakespearean ... was indeed crushed by the reviews. Yet who's to say even his narcissistic character may not have been overwhelmed, perhaps glimpsed a far-off light of repentance by the end?

I know this thread is about Booth's gun, but can you tell me why Payne's revolver would misfire, then fall to pieces during a pistol whipping? How many definitions are there for a "misfire" -- pull the trigger again? Could the piece be so badly damaged/fouled, or was it simply wielded with such violence it came apart? I thought that revolver had a reputation for reliability. Thanks much, old friend.



 Posted: Fri Jan 3rd, 2014 04:44 am
   PM  Quote  Reply 
9th Post
Hellcat
Root Beer Lover


Joined: Tue Nov 15th, 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 867
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

But you have to a yourself this, how truly strong were his convictions towards the South? Johan, you brought up a point that made me ask this question, did he feel like a coward for not enlisting in the Confederate Army. This got me to wondering just how strong his convictions were. Throw out the kidnapping plot and the assassination plot, pretend for a moment they never happened. I can think of four ways Booth could have helped the South.

One is as a smuggler and blockade runner. And according to his own sister he supposedly claimed to have smuggled a much needed medicine into the South during the war. Ok, so we have one point in favor of his convictions, but personally this is the least of the four I can think of. From the sounds of things Booth's "running the blockade" was overland. Still very dangerous if he got caught, but it would seem actually operating one of the ships running the blockade would be a little bit higher up in terms of the potential danger faced.

Another is, as has already been brought up, as a soldier. We know he never served in the Confederate Army as an enlisted man. And as you say, he doesn't seem the type to have wanted to be an anonymous soldier, he'd have probably wanted to be an officer and a high ranking one at that. Or at least an aide to one of the senior generals. Yet again we know this didn't happen.

Third would have been as a spy. Now maybe either of you know if he ever actually served in this capacity, at the moment I don't feel like going to get any of my books on spying during the war to see if his name is there. But you do have a number of spies who have earned reputations almost as great as some of the noteworthy generals both North and South. And certainly greater than the non-noteworthy generals. A spy would seem to be the role that would have most suited him as his job as an actor would have given him something of a cover to operate in DC. Unlikely in the field, though maybe some of the high ranking Federal generals during their time between campaigns might have wanted to be entertained. But with being a spy comes the danger of being captured, and possibly executed as a spy.

Finally there's the idea of working for the Confederate Secret Service. The theory that he was working for the Confederate government when he assassinated Lincoln would seem to suggest just that. But that is a theory. And we know various Confederate Secret Service agents did operate in the North, though more from a base in Canada. Again his job as an actor would have given him a cover story. Imagine the kinda of damage he might have gotten up to. But again if he got caught he could well have been executed... as a spy. And unlike just spying he'd have had to have been a lot more careful with things like sabotage, destruction of property, and bank robbing.

For all I know Booth could have been a spy and Secret Service agent, but right now nothing I've seen has ever suggested as much. Both would have let contribute to the Confederacy in ways other than on the battlefield. But you run into the point of him being anonymous, would he have done either if he remained anonymous? For that matter, was his ego such that he couldn't work anonymously?

As for the conspiracy idea, personally if there was a conspiracy larger than the known plot I doubt it was a Southern one.



 Posted: Fri Jan 3rd, 2014 09:13 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
10th Post
Johan Steele
Life NRA,SUVCW # 48,Legion 352


Joined: Sat Dec 2nd, 2006
Location: South Of The North 40, Minnesota USA
Posts: 1065
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

wondering wrote:
I know this thread is about Booth's gun, but can you tell me why Payne's revolver would misfire, then fall to pieces during a pistol whipping? How many definitions are there for a "misfire" -- pull the trigger again? Could the piece be so badly damaged/fouled, or was it simply wielded with such violence it came apart? I thought that revolver had a reputation for reliability. Thanks much, old friend.

A misfire could be caused by a lot of things such as a bad primer, wet powder,  improperly loaded chamber, not correctly reassembled after a cleaning etc.  The thing falling to pieces during a pistol whipping is a real possibility as the way they were constructed was not really condussive to its use as a club.  The Whitney revolver had an excellent rep as a reliable and robust pistol but it was a pistol not a club.



 Posted: Fri Jan 3rd, 2014 09:15 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
11th Post
Johan Steele
Life NRA,SUVCW # 48,Legion 352


Joined: Sat Dec 2nd, 2006
Location: South Of The North 40, Minnesota USA
Posts: 1065
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

Hellcat wrote: But you have to a yourself this, how truly strong were his convictions towards the South? Johan, you brought up a point that made me ask this question, did he feel like a coward for not enlisting in the Confederate Army. This got me to wondering just how strong his convictions were. Throw out the kidnapping plot and the assassination plot, pretend for a moment they never happened. I can think of four ways Booth could have helped the South.

One is as a smuggler and blockade runner. And according to his own sister he supposedly claimed to have smuggled a much needed medicine into the South during the war. Ok, so we have one point in favor of his convictions, but personally this is the least of the four I can think of. From the sounds of things Booth's "running the blockade" was overland. Still very dangerous if he got caught, but it would seem actually operating one of the ships running the blockade would be a little bit higher up in terms of the potential danger faced.

Another is, as has already been brought up, as a soldier. We know he never served in the Confederate Army as an enlisted man. And as you say, he doesn't seem the type to have wanted to be an anonymous soldier, he'd have probably wanted to be an officer and a high ranking one at that. Or at least an aide to one of the senior generals. Yet again we know this didn't happen.

Third would have been as a spy. Now maybe either of you know if he ever actually served in this capacity, at the moment I don't feel like going to get any of my books on spying during the war to see if his name is there. But you do have a number of spies who have earned reputations almost as great as some of the noteworthy generals both North and South. And certainly greater than the non-noteworthy generals. A spy would seem to be the role that would have most suited him as his job as an actor would have given him something of a cover to operate in DC. Unlikely in the field, though maybe some of the high ranking Federal generals during their time between campaigns might have wanted to be entertained. But with being a spy comes the danger of being captured, and possibly executed as a spy.

Finally there's the idea of working for the Confederate Secret Service. The theory that he was working for the Confederate government when he assassinated Lincoln would seem to suggest just that. But that is a theory. And we know various Confederate Secret Service agents did operate in the North, though more from a base in Canada. Again his job as an actor would have given him a cover story. Imagine the kinda of damage he might have gotten up to. But again if he got caught he could well have been executed... as a spy. And unlike just spying he'd have had to have been a lot more careful with things like sabotage, destruction of property, and bank robbing.

For all I know Booth could have been a spy and Secret Service agent, but right now nothing I've seen has ever suggested as much. Both would have let contribute to the Confederacy in ways other than on the battlefield. But you run into the point of him being anonymous, would he have done either if he remained anonymous? For that matter, was his ego such that he couldn't work anonymously?

As for the conspiracy idea, personally if there was a conspiracy larger than the known plot I doubt it was a Southern one.

I've never found any real evidence that Booth was part of any CS plot or any official supporter.  To me he was just an 1860's Tom Cruise who started to believe his own press.



 Posted: Fri Jan 3rd, 2014 10:34 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
12th Post
wondering
Member


Joined: Tue Dec 31st, 2013
Location: Alberta Canada
Posts: 95
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

I thank-you for your reflections. It's hard to write about characters with few redeeming qualities. I'm not sure it's a tale anyone wants to hear again (the more you know about Booth, the tougher it gets).

Last edited on Sat Jan 4th, 2014 12:28 pm by wondering



 Posted: Sun Jan 5th, 2014 02:33 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
13th Post
wondering
Member


Joined: Tue Dec 31st, 2013
Location: Alberta Canada
Posts: 95
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

But Shakespeare did it all the time. ;)



 Posted: Sun Jan 5th, 2014 05:44 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
14th Post
Johan Steele
Life NRA,SUVCW # 48,Legion 352


Joined: Sat Dec 2nd, 2006
Location: South Of The North 40, Minnesota USA
Posts: 1065
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

I agree, the more I have learned about Booth the more I dislike him. That said the events surrounding the Lincoln assassination are compelling and interesting. Unfortunately, it's like watching a car wreck that you are helpless to prevent.



 Posted: Mon Jan 6th, 2014 12:23 am
   PM  Quote  Reply 
15th Post
Hellcat
Root Beer Lover


Joined: Tue Nov 15th, 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 867
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

Well as a species it seems we do like accidents as long as we're not the ones involved. Even if you're not there to actually see the accident occur it seems that most of us have to turn and look when we come upon an accident to see how bad it was. Especially so when we see a wrecker, ambulance, and fire truck present at the scene as they are like a beacon that it's a bad accident and at least one car isn't going to be driving away. And it's not just accidents, either. How many people see fire trucks go by and wonder where their going? Of that number how many actually end up following to see where there going?

I believe we're attracted to death and destruction, and yet at the same time we hope we only see the destruction and not the death. I can remember reading years ago that some time in the late 19th century some showman found people were so drawn to train wrecks, in much the same way we seem to be drawn to car cashes, that they might pay to actually see two locomotives deliberately crashed into one another. They set it up, having the engineers and brakemen start everything running and supposed to leap from the engines well before they could crash into each other in a spectacular, and purposeful accident. And people actually paid good money to watch.


I think that interest in death and destruction, as a species, is what causes an interest in men like Booth, Oswald, Czolgosz, Guiteau, and Princip as well as men like Von Stauffenberg, Hinckley, Duran, Jaros, and Fedak. We do seem interested in assassins, especially if they were successful, their victims die relatively quickly, ad the act of assassination may have major repercussions. All the while we may find the assassin themselves disgusting the more we learn about them.

Last edited on Wed Jan 8th, 2014 11:28 am by Hellcat



 Posted: Mon Jan 6th, 2014 08:45 pm
   PM  Quote  Reply 
16th Post
wondering
Member


Joined: Tue Dec 31st, 2013
Location: Alberta Canada
Posts: 95
Status: 
Offline
Mana: 

  back to top

A dark horse with a mean-streak is an enigma; sadly, when tragedy be told, it's hard to look away.



 Current time is 04:02 pm
Top




UltraBB 1.17 Copyright © 2007-2008 Data 1 Systems
Page processed in 0.3780 seconds (11% database + 89% PHP). 27 queries executed.