||September 23 (1864)
I have heard that George McClellan may be nominated with George Pendleton as vice president. If that is so, it may be possible to bring this stupid, futile war to an end. If McClellan is elected, it portends favorably for the South where he has always enjoyed a favored status. With McClellan as president it might still be possible to reconcile the North and South. I pray that this is possible.
If Richmond falls, God only knows how it will affect the wars outcome. If McClellan is elected, this stupid war may be brought to an end. The South likes McClellan. He might be able to reconcile both sides.
Patrick Martin has approached me to discuss my plans. He has friends in Maryland who may wish to help. After Ive considered the situation from every angle, perhaps Ill send a letter to Jefferson Davis. I have a friend who could deliver such a message. Well see if Davis answers.
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This should assure them of my sincerity. Have received instructions to go to Montreal where I am to meet Clement Clay and Jacob Thompson.
St. Lawrence Hall, Montreal
Met with Thompson and Clay at breakfast. If youre willing to undertake a mission for the Confederacy, as I understand you are, we can use your services.J.T. I am to be made a Colonel in the Confederate Detached Service. I am to find and send north 15 men whom I trust. The messenger brings me $20,000 in gold to recruit them. Im to start at once. Watson is to transfer funds to my account at Chaffey, and J.T. has made mention of the Ontario Bank. They have recommended John Surratt, and I have others in mind as well. The situation is almost ideal.
Our men have struck three banks in St Albans, Vermont, from here. The city is alive with the news.
Have met Martin this noon. He gives me letters of introduction to Cox, Jones, Queen and Mudd. Telling him of my concerns over the luggage, he recommends shipping my theatrical baggage to Nassau. He is sailing there by schooner, thence into the Confederacy, and says the Norths patrol boats are unlikely to interfere with the ship. I have agreed to send my trunk along with him. I will not like losing the uniform.
Had Sam Arnold up to my room here at Barnums this eve., and Michael OLaughlin. Laugh still moving drugs south through Chaffey. Both served two years, now taken oath. They eagerly heard my plan. They left undecided, but Arnold returned to say he would join. I believe OLaughlin will, too, but he needs a week in time and a hundred dollars in cash.S.A. I gave him the money, saying Give this to him, and tell him he also has the time he needs. I think they will both be useful.
I ran into John Surratt the other day and in a by-the-way conversation, he told me that he was now serving the Confederacy as a courier between Washington, Richmond, and Canada. I told him that Clay and Thompson had already told me, and that they had suggested I look him up. We spoke of OLaughlin and other mutual acquaintances. I believe he may be of use. He comes tonight bringing with him four trusted men he swears by. We are to meet at Ella Washingtons boarding house in Georgetown.
Attended mass with Dr. Queen and family this morning. Met Cox, Jones and Mudd. Also met Dave Herold, who recollected me from Charlestown in 59. He could be of use. Tomorrow noon we are to go see George Atzerodt at Port Tobacco, where I am told he has a boat. The planters have been most accommodating. Am staying the night with Mudd and family. Their greivances are most heartfelt. The tyrants policies are intolerable: I am told 20,000 federal troops are stationed in Charles County alone, arresting people at whim.
Atzerodts boat is unimpressive but serviceable. The landing is perhaps four hours from Washington, and two to Virginia. Atzerodt and Herold are both mine. Killed a dog. Quite effective.
Met with planters Bowman, John Thompson, Samuel Cox, and Thomas Jones. They have all pledged their assistance. A Thomas Harbin can be enlisted, but he has a family to support and would require $100 a month. Brother-in-law to Jones. Survey tedious.
Ive arranged four abduction routes for bringing the tyrant to Richmond. Caldwell will secure British ships for the Potomac and Patuxent routes.
At Eva Greys home this evening I met John Conness, a repulsive man. A radical. He claims to have known Eddie when he toured California. He took me into the library for brandy and cigars and confidential talk. He claims to have a weaver friend in the North who can provide bandages for a price. I have agreed to meet him tomorrow. I believe hes on the post roads committee.
Conness showed me letters from Thompson, Sen. Chandler, and Tucker, saying These should prove Im not an enemy spy. He has given me the name of a wholesale druggist who will provide bandages and 5,000 to 25,000 ounces of quinine, for a price. He is on the committee, and for $3,000 offers a six week list of passwords, in advance. Conness said he would supply the new passwords every six weeks, providing, of course, there is always another $3,000 forthcoming for each list. He does not care who wins the war. Mr. Booth, I am not a patriot either for the North or South, but rather a man with a small pocket and a large need! J.C. He seems to care only for the money. I do not believe Tucker and the others can take him too seriously. He must be expedient for them somehow.
Im to go to Richmond to meet with Judah Benjamin. Ive had word through Benjamin F Klove. I leave to-morrow.
Met Benjamin today. Then he takes me to meet Alexander Stephens. He expressed his gratitude and confidence in my plans. The two of them and I went to see Jefferson Davis. He was thin and pale with worry. I assured him he could depend on me. It was a great pleasure.
An order for $70,000 is given to me, drawn on a friendly bank. Benjamin is to arrange a meeting with some northern speculators, who have some interest in my plans. Although I resisted, the president assured me they could be trusted, and most helpful.
In Philadelphia today, I met with Jay Cooke. Meeting arranged by J. B. His concern for discretion was almost insulting. He asked me to meet with several others besides himself at the Astor House in New York on Friday next. It is to be arranged.
Jay Cooke introduced me to his brother Henry. Henry Cooke speaks very highly of Judah Benjamin, saying he trusts J.B. to send the best man for the job, by which he means to express his confidence in me. With Jay Cooke at the Astor Hotel I met Thurlow Weed, Sen. Chandler, and a Mister Bell who said he was a friend of John Conness. Also Frank Peck1013, and my old friend, Colonel Browning, who I hoped never to see again. Samuel Noble, cotton broker; Tom Caldwell; Mr. J. V. Barnes, cotton; Robert Watson, cotton speculator; S. R. Masters, gold.
After making introductions, Jay Cooke began by announcing that Lincolns friends and former partners, Ward Lamon and Leonard Swett, are speculating heavily in cotton and gold. Lamon is reputedly the only real friend the tyrant has in Washington. Cooke says that Lamon is the key. He can get Lincoln to sign cotton passes without asking questions. Apparently a Treasury Department official Hansen Risley can be relied on to issue the blanks, and Lamon can secure the signature with ease. Lamon can then sell the pass to the speculators, who trade the cotton for meat and other supplies the South needs. The speculators made quite clear to me that they are very unhappy with the frequent NDP raiding and seizure of the meat and other supplies as contraband, which makes their work impossible. Each and every one asserted that he had dealings with the Confederate States and would continue to whenever possible. The speculators in cotton would do anythingincluding murderto make the amount of money they have. They suggest I can help them while at the same time helping the Confederacy. I dont see why not. Millions of dollars in profits are at stake, and while the tyrant rules no-one benefits. Cooke gave me two letters, one to Beverly Tucker and the other to Jacob Thompson. Both in cipher. Im to leave for Montreal at once.
St Lawrence Hall
Arrived at Hall to see Tucker leaving with Lafayette Baker! Found George Sanders, who said Tucker must not realize who Baker is. Waited in Sanders room while Sanders went to warn Tucker. When they returned, Tucker offered no explanation. Most curious. I did not give him the letter I had for him. Jacob Thompson arrived, and, being left with no alternative, I delivered both letters. Thompson suggested dinner. After eating, Thompson gave me $50,000 in bank notes with instructions to take $15,000 to Sen. Conness and to leave in a sealed envelope $20,000 in notes at the home of Sen. Wade! The balance is to be used for further recruitment. I am to proceed with the plan, although I no longer feel sure I know precisely what the plan is.
A mystifying meeting with Sen. Conness. For coffee at the National Hotel. He asked if Id been to Montreal, by which he meant did I have his money. He asked if I had Wades envelope as well, and announced that in the future he is to be the contact for Wade and Chandler as well as himself. He told me he knows of my plans, and assured me he represents parties interested in helping. When I asked why a radical Republican should be interested in helping the South, he said his motives were not important to my involvement.
Conness told me of a new plan.
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When I asked why, he said the reasons for the change were confidential.
They want it to occur sometime after the inauguration but before the cessation of hostilities. His agents can keep me informed of the movements of all three men, to help plan the strike. If all three cannot be taken at the same time, Conness insists that L. be the first. I have agreed to the expanded plan, but have made it clear that more resources for recruitment will be necessary. Conness has agreed. We are to meet later.
When Patrick Martin first approached me, the Marylanders wanted only to assist me in my original plan. The Confederate States provided money and counsel to secure this effort. J.B. organized a meeting with Northern speculators, whose motives, though I despise them, I can understand. But now Chandler and Conness and Wade are involved, and they seem to be associated with the speculators, and through them with the Confederacy itself. Im beginning to suspect that someone hides the truth.
January 18 (1865)
Incompetents! Arnold and Laugh failed to appear at Fords as planned. Nor did the scoundrel so all was not lost.
Barnes arrived from Montreal to announce that theyve replaced me! Me! It was my idea! I had the plans well underway long before they appeared on the scene! And now they want a military man because they dont think a civilian can handle it! Theyve gotten some Reb turncoat named Captain B. It doesnt matter. The Marylanders, Conness and the Confederacy are still mine. I let Barnes know it meant nothing to me. I suspect kidnaping is no longer their plan. The inauguration is Saturday.
Newspapers report Lincoln too ill to attend Grovers. Met Payne and Surratt at Fords to study layout of box. The two of them and I met with Arnold, Laugh, Atzerodt, Dave, and James Wood at Gautiers. Arnold and Laugh giving much difficulty. They are cowards. Arnold says if it is not accomplished within the week he will withdraw.
Incompetents! Surratts information was completely unreliable! I will not be goaded into another hasty attempt. Let the cowards desert if they will. My theatre plan will be carried out, with no more bungling!
This morning before I was even dressed a knock at the door. It was Lafayette Baker! Announces he is to be a General. He had three envelopes for me! Personal messages from President Davis, J. B. and Clement Clay! Baker seemed to know what they contained, for he urged me to follow the instructions they contained and let him be on his way. J. B. instructed me to give him $10,000, which I did.
I wrote immediately to J.B. and sent a courier to Richmond. Then called on Sen. Conness. He knew all about it! He claims to have known Baker in San Francisco in 51, and says hes completely trustworthy. Says hes with us, and that he cant divulge more. I despise that man.
Had a reply from J.B. by courier: Trust him.
I am informed that Lincoln will pass by a certain spot tomorrow. We will be waiting.
The information they provide is useless, wasting my time. How do they expect me to be effective when they neglect to mention the cavalry squad accompanying the tyrant? Seven hours, useless!
Baker comes and brings with him Col. Conger. I told Baker to leave him because talking to too many people can be dangerous. Baker brings a message from the secretary, and a fascinating proposal.
Baker 12 Am only is the he baker interesting. Find reward there at Caesar it I write this meet hotel offer me shall we assures will national to by to of system me to-morrow. A I'll see.
At Eva Greys this eve. spoke with Conness. I believe the time has come. I expect to have information to-morrow or the next day.J.C. They are beyond belief. No patriotism, no honor. Cowards, hiding behind their office, spouting hypocrisy.
I am misled again! Conness is making a fool of me. I do not know if Caesar knows of this mans incompetence. He must be warned. That man is endangering all our plans.
A sixth attempt failed! I am told that our ambush was suspected. Conness may be more than incompetent. I can rely on him no longer. I purchased a carbine for $5 at Navy Yard from Wakefield. Payne, Surratt and I waited near the gardens where Lincoln rides. I shot his hat off. Payne fired twice. We eluded capture within a couple of miles.
That Conger called on me at Herndon House this a.m. Called me a fool at a circus. Suggested that I had been fired. Threatened that if I made another move without orders, I and my friends would be found in the Potomac. Payne was with me. Say the word, Cap, and Ill kill the tin soldier. L.P. Must get word to Caesar. Is our agreement off? No matter who speaks for Baker, I do not like him and will not trust him. I believe Baker and Eckert and the Secretary are in control of our activities, and this frightens me.
Davis 21 Things I harmed aims. Seem believe and Caesar will Eckert own have but until down. Leave tyrant's would have Baker God I and their not head. Wash immortal calm will the I to in his.
Richmond has fallen. The speculators plan is destroyed. I attempted to warn them of the danger of Baker, they instructed me to return to Washington and await further instructions. Damn them.
The city cries with news of Lees surrender. If it is true, it means the end. Everything we have planned and striven for has come to naught. Unless I can get word to Caesar. I have had an idea that may yet salvage his plans and my hopes. The rest can rot in hell.
I have had word from Caesar. There is a new plan, other arrangements to be made. I am to have charge. All is not lost. I must find an excellent smith or cutler. Time is short.
Brown 211 Made task designed recover attempts. Our the all is wasted abduction can have the it mine. Really we on brain ease. Knife will immortality then and a with the time brain. Caesar needs have foolish I I for have is.
By Caesars gods, I swear I shall lay the body of this tyrant upon the altar of Mars. If by this act, I am slain, they too shall be cast into hell, for I have given information to a friend who will have the nation know who the traitors are. But if my escape is complete, I shall win that to which I have always been destinedimmortality!
Ia Yog Sothoth!
(undated, but below April 14)
Wilkes 12 Caesar. Country for on me enough. I reward to is will and will away to is to the sent be assures distraction over my claim all be Caesar soon til flee delivered I and Capt. the the when will forever. Return it others run B. stay am it.