Out of Hiding – John Wilkes Booth and the Richmond Grays

May 10, 2011: Barry Cauchon

Last year on May 10th, 2010 Angela Smythe presented a paper here called Has He Been Hiding in Plain Sight? John Wilkes Booth and the Richmond Grays . It presented a very plausible case that several well-known photographs contained images of John Wilkes Booth. One year later, Angela has completed her work and followed up with this supplement “Out of Hiding – John Wilkes Booth and the Richmond Grays”. Here is Angela’s summary of the piece along with the posting I featured here under my feature State Your Case #3 last year.



Subject: “Out of Hiding – John Wilkes Booth and the Richmond Grays”

Author: Angela Smythe (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

In Asia Booth Clarke’s The Unlocked Book: A Memoir of John Wilkes Booth by his Sister, Asia wrote, “[h]e left Richmond and unsought enrolled himself as one of the party going to search for and capture John Brown … and I have been shown a picture of himself and others in their scout and sentinel dresses.”

Does Asia’s picture still exist?

“Has He Been Hiding in Plain Sight? John Wilkes Booth and the Richmond Grays” (“Hiding”) released on May 10, 2010, sought to determine if several ambrotypes of the Richmond Grays, a pre-Civil War Virginia militia group, taken during the John Brown deployment, might contain John Wilkes Booth and if one of them could be the picture which Asia saw.

“Hiding” examined five pictures and determined that one individual in three particular pictures (original media ambrotype, designated in “Hiding” as RG#1, RG#2 and RG#3), could be Asia’s picture. “Hiding” compared these ambrotypes with known images of Booth and documented Booth’s presence with the Richmond Grays at Charles Town during the John Brown militia deployment in 1859. “Hiding” concluded by suggesting the need for additional research into these pictures and facts pertaining to John Wilkes Booth’s participation in this deployment as a means of confirming his possible inclusion in these pictures.

This supplement continues where “Hiding” left off. It provides additional and newly discovered documentation on RG#1, RG#2 and RG#3, lending even further support to the theory proposed in “Hiding” that John Wilkes Booth could be present in these pictures, and that one of them could be the very one which his sister Asia saw and wrote about in her manuscript.

The results originally presented in “Hiding”, expanded upon by those now presented in this supplement, indeed suggest that after 150 years, the possibility of John Wilkes Booth being hidden amongst these Richmond Grays, is now finally “Out of Hiding”…

Link for “Out of Hiding” .
 May 10, 2010: Barry Cauchon

Subject: Has He Been Hiding in Plain Sight? John Wilkes Booth and the Richmond Grays
Author: Angela Smythe (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory)
Proposition: To determine if several photos of the Richmond Grays, a pre-Civil War Virginia militia group, taken during the John Brown deployment, contain John Wilkes Booth. Angela Smythe has taken this subject and painstakingly researched it presenting a very viable case for you to consider. The investigation starts by examining the most likely and widely known group images taken at that time and place. Next the investigation  turns to those Richmond Grays who have been documented at Charles Town during the 1859 deployment and an assessment of the Charles Town pictures, including visual comparison to other known pictures of some of the participants. Finally, careful consideration is given to whether John Wilkes Booth could possibly be in one or more of these pictures.
NOTE: For reasons of copyright requirements, Angela’s article is hosted on a secured website. The link is listed below (see Hiding_In_Plain_Sight . I encourage you to comment on her work and give honest, fair feedback for her to consider. To do so, you will need to return to this site by clicking on the link at the bottom of her article. Once back here, you can then leave your comments in the Comments section at the bottom of the page.

For the past 10 years, I have supported the earth-orbiting Atmospheric Infrared Sounder Project (AIRS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  Dr. Moustafa Chahine, our Science Team Leader is often asked about his opinion on climate change based on our satellite’s measurements, and he always replies that as an objective observer, he can only be a witness and his role is not, nor should it be, that of judge, jury, prosecutor or defense counsel. It is a wonderful explanation of what true research is all about, being a witness; and that is what I have tried to accomplish with “Hiding”.  I have written what I have seen.  It is up to the jury, the readers of “Hiding”, to determine for themselves if John Wilkes Booth has been hiding in plain sight.
Has He Been Hiding in Plain Sight?
John  Wilkes  Booth and the Richmond  Grays
In  November of 1859 John Wilkes Booth accompanied the Richmond Grays during  their militia deployment to Charles Town in the aftermath of John Brown’s Raid at  Harper’s Ferry. This fact was known even in  Booth’s own lifetime.  His participation and presence have long been verified by first-hand narratives  and confirming documentation.
In The Unlocked Book, Booth’s sister Asia recounts seeing a picture of him with others dressed in their uniforms during  the 1859 Charles Town militia deployment.  A tantalizing possibility  arises, one which  begs an  important question.  Does Asia’s  picture, or any others taken of Booth during this time, still exist?
For the answer to this question… (click the link below to see the full article with supporting photographs).



DISCLAIMER: A Little Touch of History does not endorse or challenge the validity of the content presented here. The theories are published here solely for the purpose of giving aspiring researchers a place to present. I will not be taking sides or giving any personal comments publicly on their subjects. The authors have confirmed that the work is their own, and in publishing it here, take sole responsibility for any claims made.


Thank you.




Published in: on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at '12:01 am'  Comments (7)  
Tags: , , , , , ,

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://awesometalks.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/out-of-hiding-john-wilkes-booth-and-the-richmond-grays/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. To the author:
    I must doff my hat to you, celebrating the completion of this incredible discovery that was not recognized by the pre-eminent scholars in the field for all these years despite it literally staring them in the face.

    It ranks with the discovery of the Antarctic ozone hole — seen in satellite data but long dismissed until “boots on the ground” announced the phenomenon.

    And you then carried forth the painstaking research to buttress your discovery against all who would cavil.

    • Thank you Ed for taking the time to read through Out of Hiding and posting your comments. Those 3 little pictures, in particular one of them, just continue to amaze on so many levels.

      I do think that if RG#1 had entered the information stream correctly, it coupled with Asia’s book publication in 1938 would have led to the 1956 Klein/Stutler investigation focusing on this picture as well.

      Klein’s focus was on finding Booth in a picture, he asked an eminent John Brown specialist (Stutler) but there is no correctly identified picture to consider.

      Later a militia expert (Lee A. Wallace) identifies RG#1 correctly, subsequently the connection to its companion picture, men seen in the picture/s and he even provided Whitlock’s manuscript recollections of Booth. But Booth is not Wallace’s focus, and the final dot is not connected.

      Perhaps it was just simply the right time this time.

  2. Barry here: I’m posting an email on behalf of William C. Davis, the director of programs for the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies and professor of history at Virginia Tech. He is the author of more than 40 books on Civil War and Southern history. Prof. Davis wrote the following:

    Angela: Well, all I can say is that this is magnificent analytical work on every front. Your research is exhaustive, your approach comprehensive, and your conclusions judicious. While it is always dangerous to make any definitive conclusions based on identifying people in old photographs, you amass a compelling body of evidence and logic to make the argument that Booth is there, and one of these is the photo Asia saw. If this isn’t the last word on the subject, than any words to come in future are just going to echo yours.
    Thanks for letting me take a look.

  3. 2 Links to Out of Hiding Posted:

    Bob Zeller at the Center for Civil War Photography has kindly posted a link to “Out of Hiding” on the CCWP facebook page:

    Randal Berry at Lincoln-Assassination has kindly posted “Out” as a topic:

    Thank you Bob and Randal!

    Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions.


  4. As a Booth descendent , both by blood and marriage, the family I represent has never seen ( or heard of ) a photo of Wilkes with the little soul patch on his chin. Historians seem to like when Asia’s version of this history goes with their versions and the rest of the time Kauffman and company, fault sister Asia for the romantic and idolized feelings she expresses for her brother, John Wilkes. This photo, although we all wish was real, has yet another Booth lookalike, We can account for Captain James William Boyd at this time, but it seens there are alot of similar looking men, as was the fashion then. It seems with so many so called “experts” on the life of JWB, there would have it figured by now so they could write yet another book on the same erroneous information! Joanne Hulme

    • Joanne, I too, have found a rather convincing Ambrotype of a young man matching JWBs features. It’s a small piece in a case with the gilt protection frame, a little over two inches by two. The interesting comment by is sister, regarding detective taking all the possessions in here house, including photos and albums, and “the little pthoto above his niece’s bed” is of possible significance. Would you be interesed in viewing this shot?


      Dave Lanara

  5. Hi,

    Thank you for your work. I’ve nerdishly read everything you’ve written several times:). I was recently reading the book “The Life, Crime and Capture of John Wilkes Booth by George Alfred Townsend written in 1865. I read the following passage and immediately thought of the photo of the “attacking man” in your work:

    “Booth was not graceful with his feet, although his ordinary walk was pleasant enough. But his arms were put to artistic uses; not to the baser ones like boxing, but all sorts of fencing, manual practice, and the handling of weapons.”

    Your work is fascinating. Thank you for your time and effort:). Stay warm and enjoy your day.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: