Dr.Samuel Mudd of Maryland, was accused of setting the broken leg of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth, of the famous acting dynasty…thus contributing to treason.
The Civil War was a terrible time for the American people. Brother fought against brother and families were broken up as a result of the conflict. One of the major characters in the Civil War was Dr.Samuel Mudd, accused of having set the broken bone in assassin Booth’s leg. This led to the famous saying “His name is Mudd”, used to describe anyone who was unacceptable in proper society.
Samuel Mudd’s Childhood
He was the third son of Sarah Ann Reeves and Henry Lowe Mudd, and was born on December 20, 1833, at Boarman’s Reserve, close to his own home in St.Catherine, Maryland. His father was well to do, and the family had many slaves. After the age of seven Samuel was taken out of school to be tutored privately by a Miss Peterson, and he was educated by private means until the age of fourteen, when he entered St.John’s College in Frederick, Maryland. Mudd graduated in 1854 from Georgetown University with an AB degree and the same year entered the Baltimore Medical College, graduating in 1856.
Samuel Mudd’s Marriage
Mudd married Sarah Frances Dyer on Thanksgiving day of 1857, and they had nine children.(Frances outlived him by twenty-eight years). His father gave him the plantation St.Catherine, as a wedding gift. The plantation contained 218 acres and it had been in the family from the time of Thomas Mudd (1647-1694).
Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
Samuel Mudd was a young country doctor with four children when Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. The assassin, actor John Wilkes Booth, fractured bones in his leg making his getaway after shooting Lincoln at a box in Ford’s Theatre, Washington City. At four am the next day, Booth and an accomplice, David Herold, arrived at the farm of Dr.Mudd, where the leg was examined and set with a splint.
Booth Escapes into Virginia
The next afternoon, Booth and Herold left on their horses, travelling south until, a few days later, they stopped at Garrett’s farm near Port Royal, Virginia. This is where Booth was captured and killed. Although Mudd denied knowing the identity of Booth, he was sentenced to life imprisonment by a military court, and was sent to Fort Jefferson Prison, Dry Tortugas Island, on July 29,1865.
Mudd Pardoned by President Andrew Johnson
On February 8,1869, Mudd was pardoned and returned home to Maryland, ill with yellow fever contracted at the prison. He became the father of five more children but died on January 10,1883. He was forty-nine years old.
His home is on the National Register of Historic places and is open from April to November.
- Pamphlet published by the Samuel Mudd Homestead.