By the way, Today's is somewhat of a milestone... though late. This is my 80th blog with over 260 pictures. Hope you have enjoyed these and learned a lot about our Canadian and American VC and MOH heroes and other interesting facts along this journey. If you missed some of them, they are all right here on the site. You just have to scroll down and down and down. hehe Please share the site with your friends and tell your local editor about the work I am doing and also keep the comments coming in....
Now for today's blog...
Within less than three months of putting on his private's uniform in the 71st New York State Infantry he'd find himself and thousands of others in the two day march south towards Manassas Virginia. (The direction of these men are shown with the blue arrow in the above map.) The public were screaming for the President to send troops into Richmond and crush the rebellion before the war began to take on far more tragic tolls on both the North and the South. In the earliest days of the war troops were ill prepared on both sides... and also in many cases ill disciplined. An example would be during the march of two days south bound into Virginia. Northern troops were exhausted from the march and the heat. Many discarded their food rations and ammunition because it was getting too heavy to carry. And soon the men would simply lie down on the side of the route, or stop even to pick berries.
The historic battle they were marching into was the first major land battle of the war. Some would call it the First Manassas after the community close by while others would call in the First Battle of Bull Run, as it occured near the river of that name that flowed down out of the Bull Mountains. Call it what you will, it was still a slaughter and eye opener for the soldiers on both sides. So too for the hundreds who heard about a battle coming up and thought they would take in the excitement by heading off on horse drawn carriage to see the adventure. No doubt they were horrified to see some 5,000 dead or wounded, capture or Missing in Action when it was all over just several hours after it all started. It was an overwhelming victory for the South who routed the Northerners who headed for home. Had the South more energy and themselves been less exhausted as well, they might have pursued the Northern troops, captured then and moved onto DC.
If that had happened, the country might have a different name today.
Edward was one of those captured by the South and made a Prisoner of War. He had only been a soldier for three months. Many in his 90 day regiment joined him as POW's. Thought to be wounded because he was found under a blood soaked coat, Edward was transported to a hospital with other wounded. Within two months he hatched a daring escape and with a handful of wounded soldiers, they roamed the countryside in search of Northern troops. After many near captures by the enemy they finally found friendly lines. Soon he'd be transfered back to his unit but it then was about to be mustered out of service. Like so many other regiments just raised for a short term, theirs also came to an end and the men were released.
But it would be with the 16th New York that Edward, pictured here wearing Captain's bars, of earlier days, would become famous the world over.
John was one of ten kids that grew up on a farm that was worked by slaves. He was brought up to be pro slavery and in youth even joined a Virginia Regiment so that he could play a role in the capture of John Brown at Harpers Ferry a few years earlier. He would still be serving and standing on guard when Brown was hanged. The guards were there to prevent anyone from attempting to rescue Brown.
John and a handful of other conspirators planned to kidnap Lincoln and hold him hostage till some southern slaves were released, but the plan failed. So a month later he upped his plan to murder, attended the Ford's Theatre at Washington DC, snuck into Lincoln's booth and shot the President who died the next morning. Booth them jumped to the stage and made his escape back to Marryland, and in a few days he was caught hiding in a barn in Virginia.
Washington immediately went into a panic. Everyone with any authority went looking for Booth. It has been said that almost 2,000 suspects were rounded up and held in cutody. One Toronto man apparently was held in jail for over two months though he had nothing to do with the horrible crime.
Edward... now a Lietenant in the 16th New York at the front, was with his regiment when they were ordered back to DC to play a role in the capitol's defences.
Our Toronto man mentioned above was none other than Lieutenant Edward Paul Doherty. Some of his men had already been sent off in scouting missions around DC on the hunt for this man or any other conspirators. Edward would be sitting on a bench across from the White House one day when a messenger arrived with orders from a General that he was to collect 25 well trained men from his regiment and immediately report to the Capitol building for instructions.
On arrival he was ordered to head off in search of Booth, given ample supply of stores and ammunition and sent on his way. He was ordered by the Secretray of War to also take along two detectives.... who may well have been on their own mission!
The left shot is in 1865 and the right is in 1932 shortly before it collapsed. Out in the rear was a tobacco barn and upon arrival it was determined that Booth and one other fellow were inside. When asked to surrender, the accomplice did and was taken prisoner. But Booth refused. He was told the barn would be burned if he did not give up. One of his men or one of the detectives then lit the hay and started the barn ablaze too soon. Another of his men... Sgt Corbett was at the rear and later claimed he saw booth raise a weapon and point it at Doherty and so, for fear of his officer's life, he took a shot through the cracks of the barn rear wall and hit booth in the head. Booth was hauled out and actually died in Doherty's arms at the farmhouse veranda. Some say it was not Corbett who did the shooting but the detectives who answered directly to the Secretary of War and others. And many a story is told of how the detectives were told that the accused was not to be taken alive. He, it is said, knew too much that some in DC did not want aired at any trial... Information like WHO was in the know.. AT THE CAPITOL. There are many books written about the subject and make for great reading. "The Lincoln Conspiracy" by David Balsiger and Charles E Sellier, Jr is an eye opener for sure.
As officer in charge, Doherty would receive about $5,000 dollars of reward money. His soldiers would get about $2-3,000, the detectives got about $4,000 and many others also got a piece of the reward funds. Doherty would join the regular army and be given a promotion due to his involvement in the Booth capture. After his army service he moved to New Orleans and got involved in a business venture there for many years and by the mid 1880's he had moved back to the New York area were he worked as an inspector in street pavings for years until death in 1897.
He is buried at Arlington where there are over 365 Medal of Honor recipients buried. About a dozen of these heroes are from Canada and at least two dozen other Canadians rest there including one soldier who is believed to be the ONLY Confederate soldier at Arlington.