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John Wilkes Booth was the man who killed Abraham Lincoln. But who was the man who killed the man who killed Abraham Lincoln? Boston Corbett takes that honor, and he was an odd man indeed. Read on for the life and times of Mr. Corbett.
1. Corbett’s given name was actually Thomas, but he changed it later in life.
2. Corbett had a sad life. Only a year after he married, his wife died along with a stillborn daughter, which led to him falling to alcohol to help him get by.
3. The biggest change in Corbett’s life came when a Salvation Army evangelist convinced him that he needed to make a change. He felt he was born again, and to show it he changed his name to Boston, the city he was in.
4. After his conversion, Corbett grew his hair long, became a street preacher, and spent much of his time on a soapbox. After an incident with a pair of prostitutes made him afraid of his own sinful nature, he used a pair of scissors to castrate himself. He led a prayer meeting and ate dinner before he went to the hospital.
5. After his time as a street preacher, Corbett joined the army. He felt that the military put itself above Christ and was often punished for acting out.
6. Corbett’s regiment was in the funeral procession for Abraham Lincoln, and afterwards they spent five days in vigil until they heard a bugle calling them to arms as Booth had been spotted.
7. The regiment surrounded a barn where Booth was hiding and set it on fire. Corbett described the situation:“The position in which I stood left me in front of a large crack—you might put your hand through it, and I knew that Booth could distinguish me and others through these cracks in the barn, and could pick us off if he chose to do so.” Instead of shooting Booth, he said “as long as he was there, making no demonstration to hurt anyone, I did not shoot him, but kept my eye on him steadily.” But once he saw Booth “taking aim with the carbine, but at whom I could not say. My mind was upon him attentively to see that he did no harm, and when I became impressed that it was time that I shot him, I took steady aim on my arm and shot him through a large crack in the barn.”
8. Although the government was not too happy with Corbett as they had wanted Booth alive, they did offer him one of Booth’s pistols. He declined, and asked only to keep his horse.
9. Corbett began to receive threatening letters soon after he shot Booth and decided to move West. He built himself a tiny dugout, although it was really more like a hole in the ground, and lived in Kansas with his horse for many years. It was only after he threatened many of his less Christian neighbors that he was thrown into an insane asylum, eventually escaped, and disappeared.