Saturday, October 10, 2009

Newsletter Review--The Surratt Courier

The Surratt Courier. The Surratt Society. October 2009.

This issue of the Courier begins with the President's Message where Mary Kauffman announces that Tom Buckingham has been elected as the new President. There is also a list of upcoming events at the Surratt House. A brief listing of new books that are available through the Museum and a short word on the upcoming Robert Redford film The Conspirator wrap up the announcements.

The first article, written by Jim McKee, deals with the role that Fort Anderson State Historical Site played in the Lincoln assassination story. During the long bombardment of Fort Anderson several navy gunboats took part including the Montauk. After this battle the Montauk returned to the Washington Navy Yard for refitting where it was visited just hours before President and Mrs. Lincoln went to Ford's Theatre. After the assassination many of the conspirators were held aboard navy ships including the Montauk. Once John Wilkes Booth was found and killed at Garrett's Farm on April 26 his body was returned to Washington D.C. where it was taken to the Navy Yard and was placed where? You guessed it...on the Montauk.

The second article, written by Randal Berry, is titled "That Was A Night of Horrors" and deals with the question of how did detectives end up at the Surratt Boardinghouse within hours of the fatal shot being fired. By 2a.m. on April 15 detectives were knocking on the door looking for John Wiles Booth and John Surratt, neither of whom were there. The author provides five possible "tipsters" who might have led police to the the Surratt home. All five however are given reasons that they were most likely NOT the reason police arrived quickly. Another theory is put forth that the War Department already had information on the boardinghouse but the author believes this to have been "unsubstantiated paranoia" on the part of conspirators. Unfortunately the author fails to provide his reason that detectives were so quick to land at the Surratt Boardinghouse. For some reason the article concludes by telling us that the Surratt House now houses a Chinese restaurant. A brief series of end notes is included all of which are from secondary sources.

Membership in the Surratt Society is a bargain at $7 per year. For the price of a fast food meal you can help this organization continue providing it's services.

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