Corbett, Boston

Rare signature of the soldier who killed Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth

Price: $1995.00

Description:
(1832–1894?) London-born Union Army soldier who shot and killed Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth. His family emigrated to New York City and he became a hatter in Troy, New York. After his wife died in childbirth, he moved to Boston, and continued working as a hatter. He joined the Methodist Episcopal Church and changed his name to “Boston”, after the city where he was converted, and in an attempt to imitate Jesus, began to wear his hair very long. On July 16, 1858, to avoid the temptation of prostitutes, Corbett castrated himself with a pair of scissors, ate a meal, and went to a prayer meeting before going for medical treatment. In April 1861, he enlisted as a private in the 12th Regt., New York Militia. Discharged at the end of the Regiment's 3-month enlistment, he re-enlisted Sept. 1863 as a private in Co. L, 16th NY Cavalry. Captured by Mosby's men at Culpeper, Va., June 24, 1864, he was held at Andersonville for 5 months, then exchanged. On his return to his company, he was promoted to sergeant. Corbett testified for the prosecution in the trial of CSA Capt. Henry Wirz, Andersonville commandant. On April 24, 1865, his regiment was sent to apprehend John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s assassin, who was still at large. On April 26, the regiment surrounded Booth and David Herold in a tobacco barn on the Virginia farm of Richard Garrett. The barn was set on fire to force them into the open. Herold surrendered, but Booth remained inside. Corbett, positioned near a large crack in the barn wall, saw Booth moving about inside and shot him with his revolver despite Secretary of War Stanton's orders that Booth be taken alive. Booth, struck in the neck, his spinal cord severed, died 3 hours later. Corbett was immediately arrested for violating orders, but Stanton dropped the charges, remarking "The rebel is dead. The patriot lives." When asked later why he did it, Corbett answered "Providence directed me". He received $1,653.84 as his share of the reward money. After his discharge from the army in Aug. 1865, he went back to work as a hatter in Boston, then Connecticut, and by 1870 in New Jersey. His life was marked by increasingly erratic behavior. In 1875, he threatened several men with a pistol at a soldier's reunion in Caldwell, Ohio. He moved to Concordia, Kansas, and, because of his fame as Booth's killer, was appointed Asst. Doorkeeper of the Kansas House of Representatives in Topeka. One day he overheard a conversation in which the legislature's opening prayer was mocked. He jumped to his feet, brandished a revolver, was arrested and sent to the Topeka Asylum for the Insane, escaping on May 26, 1888. He went to Neodesha, Kansas, and told a friend he was going to Mexico but he is believed to have settled in a cabin he built in the forests near Hinckley, Minn. and was thought to have died in the Great Hinckley Fire of Sept. 1, 1894 as the name "Thomas Corbett" appeared on the list of dead and missing. Signed 4 1/4 x 7 3/4 sheet adding "Sergt Co L 16th NY Cav", undated but most likely late 1865. A VERY RARE SIGNATURE!

Condition: Very good, two vertical folds, small nick at left fold at bottom edge
Type:Signature






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