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John Wilkes Booth, Diary entry, April 21, 1865, southern Maryland

John Wilkes Booth, April 1865, artist's impression, detail
The following entry was the last John Wilkes Booth made in his diary. He was at the time in his fifth day of hiding with his accomplice David Herold in a pine thicket two miles from the Potomac River in southern Maryland, as federal troops following his trail scoured the woods. By this time he was aware of the almost universal condemnation rather than acclaim for his action seven days before and he clearly felt that he needed to justify himself for posterity. He strongly maintains the view that he "struck for his country" and shows no remorse whatever. He predicts the fate he meets three days later stating "I have too great a soul to die like a criminal." He also praises his "brave boy" companion, David Herold. The War Department secured Booth's diary and kept its contents a secret until the trial of John Surratt more than a year later when Surratt's defense team insisted it be entered into evidence. (By John Osborne)


How to Cite This Page: "John Wilkes Booth, Diary entry, April 21, 1865, southern Maryland," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,