June 16, 2011

The Pine Thicket and Garrett Place

Photos by Greg

I have to admit that this is a little less exciting and interesting. One thing that's sad about history is that it often disappears into memory. There's no physical remanence - just a history pole marking generally where something was and what happened there.

This is the case with the Pine Thicket and Garrett Place. Well, the Pine Thicket is just that - some pine trees where Booth hid out for a couple days before crossing the Potomac into Virginia. There was a sympathizer who lived about a mile up the road (the house is now privately owned) who would bring Booth food and newspapers. This is how he found out that most people were not stoked about him shooting the president. In fact, they were angry, grieving and wanted Booth dead. Booth really, really thought that the South would regard him as a hero. Man, he was a crazy person.

Anyway, he crossed the Potomac, which at that point is about five miles wide! Crazy. That's probably why Booth went the wrong way up the river, had to stop and then make his way back down to the right place. When he got to Virginia he stopped at a couple of places, but he met his fate at Garrett Place.

Garrett place was a farm and Booth hid in a barn until the Union army literally burned him out of it, which is why it no longer exists. It's also in the middle of Fort A.P. Hill on route 301, which has a giant forest median and they only have a history pole on the north side of the highway. We had to drive all the way through it and then back again to catch it. Even then it's just a sign off the high way. No building left or anything - not that we saw anyway. My point is that it's not an obvious historical site what so ever, but we found it!

As you can see I was getting a little tired and grumpy at this point and was generally disappointed that there was no ruins or farmhouse for us to nose around in. Greg was pretty stoked though.

So back to Booth. This is where it ended for him. Union soldiers cornered him in the barn at Garrett Place and ordered him to come out and surrender, but he wouldn't so they lit the barn on fire. Booth ended up getting shot AND severely burned. He died shortly after. Edwin Stanton received a report on Booth's death which stated that basically Booth suffered as much pain as humanly possible until the very end.

So that ends the Johnny Booth trail! Have no fear though... we decided to go where he didn't get - Richmond, Virginia! Also known as the capital of the Confederacy. We got a super yummy dinner in Carytown which may have helped improve my grumpy state. Did you know that quinoa can be made into a "cake"? A crazy delicious cake!

Next stop: Jefferson Davis' house!

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