More Tragedy Due to Booth
Great article on the Flight of John Wilkes Booth by Marjie Riordan. It arrived on the very day I finished writing the last chapters in my forthcoming book, Anaconda’s Tail: The Civil War in Southern Maryland and the Potomac Frontier, 1861-1865, on that very subject. A forgotten component of those momentous few days in American history was the terrible Black Diamond Disaster on the Potomac.
Black Diamond was one of the vessels dispatched to prevent Booth’s escape across the Potomac. At 12:30am April 24, she collided with an army troop transport called Massachusetts, carrying 400 men of the 3rd Regiment, Veterans Reserve Corps, and sank off St. Clements Island. Eighty-seven men lost their lives. Four of them were volunteer firemen from Alexandria, the only men lost in the hunt for John Wilkes Booth.
We will be holding ceremonies on St. Clements Island on April 15 to remember their loss and to commemorate the arc of history they helped define for all Americans. Do join us if you can.
Make That the Anacostia
Regarding Ms. Riordan’s April 5 article concerning the escape route of John Wilkes Booth, a minor correction would appear to be in order. In Act 3, Ms. Riordan states that on the night of the 14th, Booth crossed the Potomac River to Good Hope Road and then traveled through Anacostia on his way to Surratt Tavern.
Booth actually crossed the Anacostia River via the Navy Yard Bridge (near the present day 11th Street Bridge and Nationals Park). His only crossing of the Potomac occurred on or about April 23.