A few short hours after President Lincoln has been assassinated, Dr. Samuel Mudd gives medical treatment to a wounded man who shows up at his door. Mudd has no idea that the president is dead and that he is treating his murderer, John Wilkes Booth. But that doesn't save him when the army posse searching for Booth finds evidence that Booth has been to the doctor's house. Dr. Mudd is arrested for complicity and sentenced to life imprisonment, to be served in the infamous pestilence-ridden Dry Tortugas. Written by
Two errors with respect to the conspirators trial and hanging scenes. First, Mrs. Surratt is seen with a hood over her head in the trial scenes; in reality, she was the only one of the prisoners not required to wear a hood at any time. Also, the hanging is depicted as taking place at night when, in reality, it took place on a scorchingly hot July day. See more »
Most history buffs will like this though they may disagree with the portrayal of Dr. Mudd as being complete innocent after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Historians say Mudd knew John Wilkes Booth from often seeing the famous actor on the stage. However, it doubtful if he knew Booth had just assassinated Lincoln and was in flight from pursuing soldiers after breaking his leg while leaping from the Ford Theatre balcony onto the stage. It is now believed by many that Dr. Mudd allowed Booth to remain in his home overnight due to the strain put upon the recently set leg. The next morning Mudd went into town to get a newspaper and then discovered that Booth was wanted for Lincoln's murder. He was thus placed in the uncomfortable position of unintentionally harboring a murderer and if he had notified the police at that time he would never have been implicated in the tragedy. He unwisely chose not to do so and instead returned home to tell Booth to leave. The pusuing troops discovered that Booth had been at the Mudd home and the doctor was arrested and later tried. The movie does give a good presentation of the trial which was a travesty conducted by the military with orders from the authorities to convict and hang all those charged. Booth did luck out a bit by escaping the death penalty. Many legal experts now believe that the trial was illegal since the civilian courts were still functioning. But vengeance was to be extracted and what did befall Dr. Mudd could have been far worse.
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