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  • Writer's pictureEldon Callaway

Behind Lincoln's Assassination 3)George Atzerodt

Updated: Jan 25, 2020

Photograpgh of Lincoln

This third segment will flesh out the rest of John Wilkes Booth's band of conspirators.

George Atzerodt

Booth tasked the assassination of Vice President Andrew Johnson to George Atzerodt, a willing participant since the early stages of Booth's plans.

An emigrant from Germany as a child with his family in 1843, Atzerodt grew up to run a business of repairing carriages in Port Tobacco in Maryland. He led an uneventful life until a few years later when he traveled to Washington, D.C. and met John Wilkes Booth.

On the morning of 14 April, 1865, Atzerodt checked into the Kirkwood House Hotel in Washington. This was the very same building Andrew Johnson resided in and who Booth had given Atzerodt the task of assassinating.

At the predetermined time of the joint assassinations, Atzerodt could not fulfill his task. His nerve having left him, he spent time at the bar in the hotel and drank himself into heavy intoxication, eventually walking the streets of Washington throughout the night.

Of note are a few others who, while not taking part in the assassinations themselves, were involved with the kidnapping attempts or plans of.

Edmund Spangler

Edward Spangler (baptized Edmund Spangler) had been working to prepare the State Box for the President's attendance that evening, turning box numbers 7 and 8 into a single box. When Booth showed up at the theatre later, he invited the stagehands, including Spangler who had been a long time member of Booth's band, out for a drink, explaining he might return for the evening performance.

Approximately 9:30 pm, Booth arrived in the alley to the rear of Ford's Theatre and asked for Spangler, whom he charged with holding his mare (as the horse was prone to break her halter). Spangler informed Booth he had to work, but did ask another employee, Joseph Burroughs to take care of the horse. This was how Booth quickly escaped from the theatre about 10:15 pm.

Michael O'Laughlen

Michael O'Laughlen, having been one of the original members, had seemingly grown sour after the failed kidnapping attempts and was no a part of the assassination conspiracy, though was in Washington on that evening, assumed to have been visiting friends.

Samuel Arnold

Samuel Arnold in late 1864 had agreed to be part of a kidnapping plot on Lincoln. He was involved in both failed attempts but was not involved in the assassination plot as he had taken a clerk's job in Old Point Comfort, Virginia.

Mary Surratt

Mary Surratt ran the boardinghouse where she was introduced to John Wilkes Booth. Due to her son's involvement, the boardinghouse was used numerous times by the conspirators to plan the kidnappings and assassination. Surratt spoke with Booth before he left for Washington to murder Lincoln, where he handed her a package containing binoculars, to give to one of her tenants, John M. Lloyd.

The last segment will be the assassination itself and the aftermath for all those connected to Booth.

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