May 30, 2013
Barry Cauchon
Hi all: Well, here is the discovery that I alluded to in my posting from yesterday. It is creating a huge buzz in the Lincoln assassination research community. We hope you find it interesting as well.
The following was written by my research partner, John Elliott who discovered the information about the Booth Autopsy photo.
JWBooth Autopsy 13-May-65 (Harpers Weekly)
Every now and then a discovery gets made that can’t be suppressed or selfishly withheld from the public in order to help sell a book.
I’ve been across the country from Andersonville, GA to Harrisburg, PA and all the way to the middle of the Gulf of Mexico in search of new discoveries that will help forward Lincoln assassination studies.  Most of the time, I’ve come up short but at least I know …I checked and can cross things off my list of unknowns.
Recently, the research Gods threw me a bone and practically rewarded me for my past efforts and time.  While searching for eyewitness accounts of John Wilkes Booth’s burial, I discovered a newspaper  article that has been hidden and/or overlooked by researchers for nearly 125 years.
The article definitively answers the question “Where is the John Wilkes Booth autopsy photo?”
In the following days, a press release  will be issued detailing this latest discovery but we’d like to share it with you here first.  We will also be selling a supplement, similar to our two others, that will provide more details, interesting tidbits and supporting evidence of our new find.
In 1891, a story was printed in a major newspaper stating that a Rev. Armstrong of Atlanta was believed by many to be John Wilkes Booth.  Not only did he look like the actor, Booth’s brother Edwin often visited and spent time with him.
In response to this article, an eyewitness to Booth’s autopsy stepped forward and denounced the silly claim by stating undeniably that John Wilkes Booth was dead.  The eyewitness was none other than Lawrence Gardner, the son of Alexander Gardner.
As an aside, Lawrence Gardner stated the following:
“The object of my father’s visit to the Monitor was photography, and the body in question was to be the subject.  Did we take a picture? No.  After everything had been prepared Gen. Eckert concluded that inasmuch as there was so little likeness in the remains to the photograph in existence of Booth, perhaps it would be best not to make the picture, and the plan was abandoned for that reason.”
Other than a statement made by Alexander Gardner himself, there can be no better source than his son, to definitively say what happened to the Booth autopsy photo.
Lawrence Gardner was only 17  when he assisted his father on the Montauk.  He would later go on to have a very successful career in politics and was a well respected, prominent citizen of Washington D.C.  At the time he made his statement regarding the Booth autopsy, he was 42 years old and of sound mind.
Among the other revelations in the article, Gardner claims that Booth’s tattoo was surrounded by a wreath of stars.   Lawrence’s involvement also challenges Osbon Oldroyd’s claim that Timothy O’Sullivan was Alex Gardner’s assistant at the Navy Yard.
I’ve been asked by a couple of people if I am disappointed  there is no photo to be found.   Truthfully, I was beginning to doubt that it ever existed and this article supported my beliefs.
For the past few months Barry and I had been looking further in to this area and we both started doubting and challenging quite a few things that supposedly occurred on the Montauk.
We will continue to look for amazing new discoveries to share with you all in the future.  For the time being, thanks again for all your support.  We sincerely appreciate it.
Published in: on Thursday, May 30, 2013 at '2:26 pm'  Comments (5)  



May 29, 2013

Barry Cauchon

As many of you know, my research partner, John Elliott and I have been working on our book, “Inside the Walls: The Final Days of the Lincoln Conspirators” which is due for release at the end of this year. On May 17, John was investigating aspects of photographer Timothy O’Sullivan’s involvement in the Lincoln conspirator photo sessions conducted aboard the Union monitors Saugus and Montauk. During his search, John discovered a major find of historical importance related to the John Wilkes Booth autopsy photograph.

For those of you not familiar with the story of John Wilkes Booth’s autopsy photograph and the significance of what will be presented here and on our Facebook page “Inside the Walls”, I will quickly summarize what this is about.

On April 26, 1865, after twelve days of being on the run following Lincoln’s assassination, John Wilkes Booth and his accomplice David Herold were tracked down by Union soldiers in Bowling Green, Virginia. After a short standoff, Herold gave himself up but Booth, refusing to surrender, was shot and died on site. Herold and the body of Booth were transported back to Washington and in the early morning hours of April 27, delivered to the USS Montauk, a Union monitor anchored 100 yards offshore from the Navy Yard. Moored next to the Montauk was a second monitor, the USS Saugus. The two ships were heavily guarded and received Herold, who joined seven other prisoners suspected of being involved in the plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln and other government officials. Booth’s body was placed on a carpenter’s bench on the deck of the Montauk. Later that morning, photographer Alexander Gardner, who had visited the ships over the previous week and a half for the purpose of photographing some of the prisoners, was called upon again. Gardner and an assistant were summoned to photograph the autopsy of John Wilkes Booth. According to a letter written by Detective James A. Wardell published in Mark Katz’ 1999 book “Witness to an Era: The Life and Photographs of Alexander Gardner”, Wardell reported that he was instructed to collect Gardner and his assistant (Timothy O’Sullivan) and escort them to the Navy Yard for the sole purpose of photographing Booth’s autopsy. Only one photograph was to be taken and he was instructed to personally accompany the assistant back to the studio to obtain one print from that negative. He was then to deliver the negative and print to Secretary of War Stanton at the War Department. Based on Wardell’s letter, he did as he was told and went to the War Department where he met Col. Lafayette Baker just outside of Stanton’s office. Wardell gave Baker the envelope containing the negative and print. Once satisfied with its content, Baker dismissed Wardell. The photograph has never been seen since. 

In the world of Lincoln Assassination research circles and Civil War photography investigators, this photograph is considered to be one of the Holy Grails of relics associated with this tragic event.

Besides the Wardell letter, other clues point to its existence. A NY Tribune article published on April 28, 1865 stated that a photograph was taken. Then in May, two woodcut illustrations were published (one in Harper’s Weekly and one in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper). Both drawings looked similar in detail and supposedly were based on Gardner’s actual photograph (a practice often employed by the newspapers since printing technology to reproduce photographs didn’t exist at that time). To further add to the belief that the photograph existed, in 1952, a fourteen year old boy name Ron Rietveld discovered an authentic photograph of Abraham Lincoln in his coffin. This photograph had originally been confiscated by Secretary of War Stanton and was thought to be destroyed. The belief was that if Stanton held onto this photograph, then in all likelihood he kept the photograph of Booth’s autopsy as well.

This week, John and I will publish one of the biggest finds we’ve ever made since we began investigating and researching the story of Lincoln’s assassination. And it will shed new and very exciting information about the Booth autopsy photograph. Stay tuned.