NYC Jails Governor &
Civil War Mayor ©
Chapter 5 of 7
Consider a reputed enemy of the US who once supported its military action in a foreign land. Who grew up in an affluent family that saw to his getting the finest education. Who, though a brilliant scholar, chose to became a political leader involved with other nations hostile to US interests. Who contributed from his own wealth to equip and train those taking up arms against the US. Whose anger at the US deepened as he saw its armies inflict the cruelties of war upon his own people, including family members. Who from another country directed a network of agents against the US, including saboteurs he allegedly picked to incinerate Lower Manhattan on a day New Yorkers would go to the polls.

No, his name is not the one repeated in virtually every newscast and newspaper since Sept. 11. The name is Jacob Thompson! The reprisal arsons he allegedly plotted were carried out 137 years ago Nov. 25 as acts of terror to generate better peace terms for the South and to revenge ravages inflicted on Southerners by the North. Fires were ignited in dozens of hotels, museums, theatres and ships, all within a few minutes of each other to maximize panic and havoc.

Read below for more on how this ex-Congressman and ex-US Secretary of the Interior allegedly masterminded a Confederate plot to burn down the city

'Peace' mayor helped defeat terror plot by Confederate agents to burn down NYC

On Nov. 2, 1864 (a month after his veto of the Council's planned "public illumination" to celebrate recent Union victories), the mayor received a telegram from U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward warning him of a Confederate scheme afoot to, among other things, burn down New York City the following week; that is, on or about Nov. 8, the day set for the Lincoln-McClellan election in Union states.

Although a Peace Democrat with strong sympathies for the South, Gunther notified his Police Superintendent John A. Kennedy and General John A. Dix, both of whom were reportedly skeptical but told subordinates to be on alert to the possible threat.

The mayor's prudent actions contrast with those of Gov. Horatio Seymour. Also advised of the arson plot, Seymour, who in 1862 had won election as governor with the support of Gunther and other Peace Democrats and who was running for re-election, belittled the report's significance and discounted that the supposed scheme would pose any problems local authorities could not handle.

Seymour, like Gunther, came out of the Hunker/Hardshell wing of the party. In the 1860 Presidential election, Seymour had backed Stephen Douglas and the latter's advocacy of allowing the voters in the Western territories to decide the question of slavery for themselves. While seeing that New York State met its military requirements, the governor was critical of Lincoln's war aims and policies.

The governor's stances reflected and/or were tailored to appeal to the views of a significant element among New Yorkers of immigrant backgrounds, especially those of Irish heritage, a constituency increasingly important to Democratic candidates of that era. In championing those New Yorkers' real concerns about actual economic hardships caused by the war and its valid complaints against the obvious unfairness of the draft law, some of these politicians and their publicists seemed at times to fan the flames of anger to the point of riot and rebellion.

Confederate agents, NYC newspaper editor confer

Such was the incendiary language employed in speech and print by one Copperhead controversialist, journalist James A. McMaster, a report that he met with the Confederate operatives plotting to incinerate the city hardly surprises.

McMaster is said to have met with them in his Freeman's Journal office on Oct. 28, 1864. The discussion is reputed to have been focused on the Southern agents' hopes for activist New York sympathizers to seize control of the municipality during the chaos that the firebombings were planned to generate. Similar takeovers during simultaneous incinerations of other Northern cities were also part of the overall plan.

Identifying with the Rebels came easily for McMaster who had much difficulty accepting authority in any form. Son of a leading Presbyterian minister who had sent him to Union College, James left before graduating and later converted to Catholicism, thus rebelling against his father's faith and plans for him. For a while, as a novice Redemptorist, James tested what he thought was a calling to the priesthood but soon found the discipline and obedience expected did not suit him. He then turned his considerable talents for expression into a career as a journalist, writing for various publications including Bishop John Hughes' The New York Freeman's Journal.

Not happy to submit to editorial direction, McMaster wanted to run a newspaper on his own. With borrowed funds, he bought Freeman's Journal from the bishop in 1848, took over as its editor and continued in that role until his death in 1886 at age 66. While identifying with the Catholic faith, he nevertheless openly quarreled with Hughes and others in the hierarchy on a variety of religious, social and political issues of the day.

GEN. GEORGE BRINTON MCCLELLAN Eleven years after graduating West Point second in the Class of '46, he retired from the army to work as a railroad executive. When the Civil War began, McClellan was named major-general of Ohio forces, but soon was appointed a federal army major-general, eventually succeeding Winfield Scott as general-in-chief. But McClellan's reluctance to pursue vigorously the foe exasperated Lincoln who relieved him of field command entirely in 1862. In 1864 the Democratic Party nominated the general for President but adopted a "peace platform" for a unilateral ceasefire and a negotiated settlement. McClellan distanced himself from that while still criticizing Lincoln's war policies. The retired general served as NYC Docks chief engineer 1870-1872, and then as New Jersey governor 1878-1881. His namesake son (Jr.) was elected NYC mayor in 1903 as a Tammany Democrat, and reelected in 1905.

Thus his running criticism of Lincoln's federal government policies fit a lifelong pattern of rebellions against authority. So strong were McMaster's denunciations that he was arrested in September, 1861 and confined in the New York Harbor island prison, Fort Lafayette. Eventually, he was released upon taking, under protest, a loyalty oath to uphold the Constitution and the government. However, his newspaper was effectively suppressed by being banned from the mails until mid-April, 1862.

A states rights Democrat and anti-abolitionist, McMaster urged his listeners at public rallies and his print readers to "fight" the 1863 draft law. Although formalistically careful to counsel against rioting, the inflammatory thrust of his rhetoric helped fuel the anger of many New Yorkers of Irish and other immigrant and/or poverty backgrounds. They were angry at what they saw as Lincoln forcing them to fight to free Southern slaves who would move north to take away their jobs.

When that anger did ignite into the July 13-16, 1863 riot of arson, vandalism and murderous violence, mostly directed against blacks, McMaster verbally attacked military actions against the mobs. He argued that Negroes could not live in the same community with whites and that those Negroes who had migrated from the South should be removed.

Many of those same sentiments surfaced with renewed vigor during the Lincoln-McClellan campaign that would be decided by the election set for Nov. 8, 1864. For precisely that reason, the Confederate plotters had picked it as the target date for their arson attack.

But Republicans Seward and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton were not about to allow any disruptions in the city that, however well-handled by local public safety agencies, might provide a diversion opportunity for anti-Lincoln forces to "steal" the election by inflating the city's Democratic margin for McClellan.

Rather than rely entirely on the area commander General Dix, a Democrat well regarded by New York Democrats, they sent 7,000 troops under the command of radical Republican Gen. Benjamin F. Butler to make sure the election process went forward without irregularities from any quarter, including Copperheads and Confederates.

Mayor Gunther Snubs Gen. Butler

On Election Day, Butler's forces were deployed at strategic points around the city. Voting proceeded peacefully, with irregularities held to an unaccustomed minimum. Although McClellan carried the city, Lincoln was able to squeeze out a narrow statewide victory. Even Peace Democrat Gov. Seymour did not win re-election. The visible presence of the troops also may have been among the factors prompting the Southern conspirators not to execute their arson plot during the balloting as planned but to wait until the troops and Butler had departed the city.

A successful criminal law attorney in Massachusetts, Butler served two terms in the state legislature where he was known as sympathetic to problems of the poor. As a Democrat, he backed his party's nominee against Lincoln but committed to the Union cause when war came. A brigadier general in the state militia, troops under his command were among the first to rush to protect Washington, D.C. He was given command of Fort Monroe and led troops that took New Orleans, of which he was made military governor (May-Dec., 1862). His tight reign angered that city's residents who consequently named him The Beast. He served in Congress from 1867 to 1875 as a Republican ardently advocating the party's Reconstruction policy and helping conduct impeachment proceedings against President Andrew Johnson. Butler served one term (1877–79) as an independent Greenbacker in Congress and was elected governor with support by the Greenbackers and Democrats in 1882. In 1884 he received the nominations of the Anti-Monopoly and Greenback parties for President.

It was during this period that Butler sent word to Gunther he desired to see the mayor at his headquarters, a 12-room suite that the general had taken over in the brand-new Hoffman House off Madison Square, built of the site of stores burned down during the draft riot the previous year. Gunther's reply was characteristic of him: "Tell General Butler that if he has any business to transact with me, that I can be found in my official office at the City Hall."

For a peak behind the pique Gunther displayed in rebuffing Butler, some facts about the general need to be recalled. He had commanded troops involved in taking New Orleans and was made its military governor. But his high-handedness so infuriated its citizenry that they called him the “Beast.” The nickname and his reputed behavior that had provoked it gained him wide notoriety throughout the South and among its sympathizers in the North.

Originally a Democrat, his strong Unionist commitment moved him into the camp of the radical Republicans. He was the man that New York Republicans and abolitionists had wanted Lincoln to designate to rule New York City under martial law in the wake of the 1863 draft riots. Instead, the President decided against imposing martial law and assigned General Dix, whose manner was more acceptable to city Democrats, as area commander of Union forces.

On Nov. 25, a Friday, 10 days after Gen. Butler left the city, the eight Southern conspirators chosen by Thompson -- each armed with 10 self-igniting bombs known as "Greek fire" -- started their conflagrations in dozens of hotels, theatres and museums along Broadway and in shipping-related facilities along the Hudson River from about 7:30 to 9:30 PM.

The fires caused extensive damage but no loss of life, thanks in part to their being brought under control rapidly by the volunteer fire companies and the staffs of the various buildings attacked. Some writers have speculated that the Washington Square chemist who prepared the bombs had deliberately weakened the mixture. Supposedly, he no longer wished to go forward with the plot after Union victories made evident that the Southern cause was lost. But the Southern agents insisted on carrying out the plan anyway.

One 1864 NYC Fire Terrorist Executed

The Confederate plot to "burn down the city" had failed but only one of the arsonists was eventually captured, tried by the Union military, convicted and hanged. The Southern saboteur, Captain Robert Cobb Kennedy, -- whose list of facilities firebombed included Barnum's Museum where 2,500 people were attending a lecture -- was executed at Fort Lafayette that then stood on a built-up reef in the Narrows where now stands one of the supports for the bridge connecting Staten Island and Brooklyn.

Actually the entire terrorist team -- headed by Lt. Col. Robert Maxwell Martin of the 10th Kentucky Partisan Rangers aka Johnson's Cavalry -- had taken a north-bound train out of New York City the next evening (Saturday, Nov. 26th) and its members made their ways safely to Toronto. Two weeks later some of the arsonists, including Capt. Kennedy, re-entered New York State on a mission to help a group of Confederate generals escape from their Union captors. After that mission also failed, Kennedy and the other operatives returned to their Toronto base area.

But the following February, Capt. Kennedy and fellow arsonist Lieutenant John Ashbrook re-entered the US on their way back to the Confederacy. At St. Clair Station in Michigan, they boarded a train bound for Detroit and sat at opposite ends of the same passenger car. When an hour later, as the train rattled along, Ashbrook saw two men with guns drawn approach the captain, the lieutenant rightly concluded they were Union federal agents. He quietly and quickly opened a window next to him, and seconds later leaped from it, landing on the snowy embankment as the train continued speeding on its way.

Ashbrook eventually hooked up with Southern supporters in Cincinnati and succeeded in reaching Kentucky. Kennedy was not so fortunate. He was brought back to New York City to stand trial before a military commission that was part of the Union army's Department of the East commanded by Gen. Dix whose headquarters staff occupied a few floors in one of the hotels firebombed Nov. 25. The military commission's judgment read, in part:

The attempt to set fire to the city of New York is one of the greatest atrocities of the age. There is nothing in the annals of barbarism which evinces greater vindictiveness. It was not a mere attempt to destroy the city, but to set fire to crowded hotels and places of public resort, in order to secure the greatest possible destruction of human life. . . .

Robert C. Kennedy will be hanged from the neck till he is dead at Fort Lafayette, New York Harbor, on Saturday, the 25th day of March.

Originally built in 1812-18, armed with 72 cannon and named Fort Diamond, the military prison/fort designated in the Kennedy execution sentence had been renamed in 1825 for General Lafayette. It stood on Hendrick's Reef in New York Harbor off Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, but burned in 1868.

Fort Lafayette became the last Union facility to release its POWs, the last leaving in March 1866. [Courtesy of the NY Southern Society]
Lonnie R. Speer, in his Portals to Hell: Military Prisons of the Civil War excerpted extensively elsewhere on this NYCHS web site, notes that many of its prisoners referred hatefully to the island fort simply as "that American Bastille."

During his brief incarceration at Fort Lafayette in early 1865, Kennedy may well have reflected back to his longer incarceration at another island POW camp maintained by Union forces for Confederate captives. That one was on Johnson's Island in Sandusky Bay, Lake Erie. He had escaped from it to Canada just a few weeks prior to joining Col. Martin's firebomb squad in the Toronto Bay area. But there was no escape for Kennedy from the New York Harbor island fortress.

On the appointed day, March 25, 1865, as he stood upon the gallows and the hood was about to be placed over his head, the Confederate captain burst into song before the trap opened beneath him:

Trust to luck, trust to luck,
Stare Fate in the face,
For your heart will be easy,
If it's in the right place.

Family and friends hoped that the prospect of the Confederacy's imminent collapse would stay the execution and spare his life but those hopes were in vain. Fifteen days later Lee surrendered at Appomattox Village courthouse. Thus the former West Pointer, Captain Robert Cobb Kennedy, the only New York City firebombing terrorist captured, became the last Confederate soldier executed by Union military during the Civil War.

Col. Martin, who led the firebombing team, had previously led the 1st Regiment of the 10th Kentucky Rangers that joined Morgan's Raiders. Martin's cavalry took part in a number of Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan's famous raids. During the ill-fated Indiana-Ohio raid, most of the regiment was captured and imprisoned. Hunt and most of his captured officers were confined in the Ohio State Penitentiary, but he and several of them escaped on Nov. 26, 1863. A year less a day later Morgan Raider Martin led the arson raid on Lower Manhattan.

His political views aside, what makes Jacob Thompson such an intriguing figure in Civil War history is the duality of his nature: a man of action in the field of battle or in espionage and sabotage as well as the man with a passion for learning and education. Before the war, Jacob helped lobby the Mississippi state legislature to establish a law school at the University of Mississippi and worked on its development with U. of M. officials so that in the fall of 1854 its first law class was admitted. After his return to the US, ending his self-imposed exile following the war, Jacob was appointed to the board of the University of the South at Sewanee, becoming one of the school's great benefactors. A classroom building named for him was called, ironically, Thompson Union.

Incineration Plot 'Mastermind' -- Congressman

The reputed mastermind behind the 1864 NYC incineration plot was former six-term Congressman (1839-51) from Mississippi, Jacob Thompson. Born May 15, 1810 in North Carolina, his family sent the bright and studious boy to the best schools. He graduated class valedictorian in 1831 from the University of N.C. after which he was appointed tutor there but quit to study law.

On becoming an attorney, he moved to Mississippi and became active in US Land Office and the Indian Agency affairs, helping force out frontier native nations hostile to white plantation expansion interests.

As a member of the House of Representatives, he supported US military action in Mexico, voting for bills authorizing and funding it. In Congress, he headed the Indian Affairs Committee. Later, he served as President James Buchanan's Secretary of the Interior whose jurisdiction included Indian lands. He took office in 1857, the same year Gunther became Alms-House board president.

The day before Mississippi seceded from the Union, Thompson resigned from Buchanan's cabinet. He contributed generously from his own funds to equip and prepare troops for the Confederate cause. He served as an aide to Gen. Beauregard at Shiloh, attained the rank of Lt. Colonel and participated in battles at Vicksburg, Corinth, Tupelo, Grenada and the Tallahatchie River. At Water Valley his horse was shot from under him.

Although Thompson had been elected to the state legislature, Confederate President Jefferson Davis, a fellow Mississippian, asked him to go to Canada to set up and head up a network of secret agents to establish contact with Northerners actively sympathetic to the Southern cause. Jacob arrived in Canada in May, 1864 (Gunther's first year as mayor). He had $300,000 available to him to finance his covert operations.

In line with that plan, Capt. Thomas Henry Hines and some other officers Hines picked were detached from Morgan's Raiders. Davis and CSA Secretary of War Seddon instructed them also to go to Canada to organize Confederates, mostly escaped POWs, in that country. These CSA officers and agents included Martin, Ashbrook and John Headley. Thompson was already in Canada as Commissioner for the Confederacy.

In the summer of 1864, Union forces looted and burned Thompson's estate in Oxford, Miss., even though his daughter-in-law was still bed-ridden after having just given birth to his grandchild. A Union officer, William S. Burns from Bath, N.Y., who was not keen on carrying his orders to burn down the home, risked incurring the displeasure of his superiors by delaying long enough to allow Mrs. Thompson to take out personal and family items. He also had the bed with the new mother and baby in it carried onto the lawn a safe distance away before executing his orders. Later that year the officer resigned his commission; he wanted no more of such war.

The original aim behind Jeff Davis sending Thompson to Canada was to attempt arranging favorable terms for peace through sympathetic and influential Northern politicians and businessmen. Failing that, his orders were to subvert the Union war effort using various means, including but not limited to arranging the escape of Confederate POWs from the Johnson's Island camp on Lake Erie. Among various schemes hatched was one in which Martin and Headley attempted to kidnap Vice President Andrew Johnson in Louisville.

Although Thompson maintained he had no involvement in any criminal activity during the war, US and Canadian authorities came to regard him as an "espionage mastermind." The courier who reportedly carried dispatches between Thompson in the Toronto Bay town of St. Catherine's and the Confederate capital, Richmond, Va., was a double-agent, Felix Stidger, working for the Union. That's why advance word of the plot to incinerate Lower Manhattan could be sent by Seward to Gunther, Seymour and others. "Thompson's agents," who had slipped into New York from Canada, were under surveillance by the Secret Service seeking to track down their Northern contacts. But Union counter intelligence observed nothing in the supposed plotters' conduct to confirm the double-agent's tip about the arson plan.
The antecedents of "Greek Fire," a flammable composition of certain well-known materials (the mix need not be promoted here), can be traced back to antiquity. However, a Syrian engineer Callinicus is reputed to have developed it for use on a massive scale in the 7th century. Byzantine war ships and fortress walls featured projecting tubes from which spouted so-called Greek Fire. The liquid would be hurled onto enemies from siphons and burst into flames on contact. Believed to be inextinguishable and able to burn even on water, its introduction into the warfare of its time caused panic and dread comparable to the dread aroused by the introduction of "nuclear fire" in our time.

When the incendiary plan was first broached, the rationale advanced for it was that burning down New York and other Northern cities could create panic and chaos (a) terrifying some Northerns into pressing for a quick peace settlement more accommodating to the South while (b) emboldening other Northerners to seize control of local governments to make common cause with the South. But before the plot could be carried out, Sherman's army took Atlanta, Sheridan's took the Shanandoahs Valley and their armies savaged the South as they marched. Even to the most die-hard Rebel, the Confederacy was clearly doomed.

Now the only motive for setting off firebombs in the city's hotels, museums, theatres and boats crowded with civilians, including women and children, could no longer be a desperate hope of turning the tide of a war already lost. Revenge and reprisal surely rose as moving factors entering into the decision mix quite distinct from any strategic rationale.

Historians tend to put the number of places firebombed at about a dozen and a half, but that figure would seem too low if one credits an account attributed to one of the agents. Edward Robb Ellis in the "Confederates Try to Burn Down New York" chapter of his well-researched and very readable The Epic of New York City, retells Confederate Lieutenant John Headley's version. According to that, each of the eight was armed with 10 such self-igniting devices and each man later indicated he used all of his supply.

By that count then, conservatively speaking, approximately 40 to 60 separate locations seems more likely to have been firebombed. That's even allowing that one or more of the agents might have used two or even three bombs at one or two locations or that one or two of the devices failed to function at all. Additionally, the lower counts generally accepted appear more focused on buildings with large numbers of people in them (hotels, theatres, museums) and seem to disregard or discount various North River dock facilities, ships and boats.

Mike Wallace and Edwin G. Burrows, in the "The Battle for New York" chapter of their massive and masterful Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, wisely avoid entirely the number issues -- the total count of Confederate arsonists, the total count of Greek firebombs they had, and the total count of locations set ablaze by them. Wallace and Burrows tell well the story with emphasis on the context in which the wildly exciting event took place while noting it had little impact on the course of the war.

Other resources have attempted to delve into the event's numerical details and, thereby, generate somewhat different numbers. For example, one web site -- Civil War Education -- includes a page that speaks of six Confederate arsonists and another page that speaks of eight. The site's pages also speak of the arsonists having a supply of 402 bombs but put the number of fires set as "dozens." These numerical differences are not cited in criticism but to illustrate the seemingly conflicting counts emerging from such statistical pursuits. That observation notwithstanding, the Civil War Education site provides a wealth of useful information filling gaps left by standard hardcopy histories.

On the evening of Nov. 25, 1864, before a standing room only crowd, John Wilkes joined his two brothers on the stage of the Winter Garden Theatre in a special benefit performance of Julius Caesar, Shakespeare's drama about another historic assassination. Edwin played Brutus, Janius played Cassius, and John Wilkes played Marc Anthony. It was on this night during that performance in that theatre that Confederate agent Ashbrook tossed his terror firebomb as he and seven other Southern saboteurs pursued their plot to burn down NYC.

An Historical 'What If'

Clear from all the sources -- regardless of numerical variations -- is that the arsonists aimed their firebombs mostly at unarmed civilians not engaged in any military activities whatsoever. Among the targets hit with the self-igniting Greek fire were: the City Hotel, the Everett House, the United States Hotel, the Astor, Barnum's Museum, Niblo's Theatre, the Metropolitan Hotel, and the La Farge House.

About the only hotel target that had any military aspect was the St. Nicholas where Gen. Dix's command was headquartered on a few floors. Whether the arsonists were aware of that or not, there is little doubt the establishment would have been firebombed anyway because the St. Nicholas, having a thousand rooms, was one of the city's largest hotels.

The La Farge House adjoined the Winter Garden Theatre where Edwin Booth was staging Julius Caesar to raise fund for a Shakespeare statue. Confederate Lt. Ashbrook, who had torched the hotel, also tossed one of his firebombs into the crowded theatre. It burst into flame, the audience screamed and scrambled in terror, but some quick thinking and fast acting staff and patrons smothered the blaze and restored order.

Yet, had that particular act of vengeful arson succeeded in killing audience and cast members alike, the entire course of American history might well have been different. For on that night -- and only that night -- did the three Booth brothers ever appear on stage together:

  • Edwin Thomas, who the previous year had become the Winter Garden's manager;
  • the eldest brother, Janius Brutus Jr., named after their actor father, and
  • the youngest brother, John Wilkes, who six months later would assassinate President Lincoln.

Had the fire and panic set off by the Confederate terrorist's bomb killed or seriously injured John Wilkes Booth at the Winter Garden in New York on Friday, Nov. 25, 1864, he would not have been in the another theatre -- the Ford in Washington, D.C. -- on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, when the President and First Lady went to see Our American Cousin.

Historians occasionally play the "what if" game. Some speculate that Lincoln -- if not assassinated -- might have been able to lead the nation in a direction better suited to resolving the racial and regional divisions than the path on which the county in fact found itself with his successor Andrew Johnson and the Radical Republicans.

As a subset of that speculation, historical theorists sometimes ponder scenarios -- a balcony box door unexpectedly locked, an extra guard assigned, Gen. Grant accepting the President's invitation to join his theatre party, etc. -- that would have the Lincoln assassination plot fail. Why not an even simpler scenario: Before he can murder the President, have the future assassin killed as an unintended casualty of the Confederate plot to burn down New York? It very nearly did happen that way.

Alleged "espionage mastermind" Thompson's name has come up in investigations into the Lincoln assassination. But no direct link was ever established between Jacob and Booth, although latter is known to have traveled to Montreal in October, 1864, and to have been in communication with Confederate contacts there at other times.

Thompson remained out of United States enough years to avoid being targeted in the emotional outrage that swept the Union in the wake of Lincoln's murder. Like Jefferson Davis, Jacob had had a price on his head.

When eventually he returned to the US, Thompson was not prosecuted. Thompson and his wife soon moved to Memphis. He died in 1885 at age 75 and was buried there. The Interior Department closed for a day and lowered its flags, moves much criticized in Northern newspapers. After all, they argued, only 21 years earlier, he had plotted to burn down their major cities, even aside from whether or not he had also plotted to kill the President.

The one person who perhaps did more than anyone else to safeguard the Union from Thompson's Canadian-based conspirators, Felix Stinger, found himself at age 65 needing to seek help from the War Department Pension Bureau. He had tried to establish a Stidger Progressive American 20th Century Shorthand School in Chicago. After the war, he was forced to flee to that Northern city from the South because his counterspy work had made him a hunted man, constantly being threatened. He once was attacked on a Louisville street.

After the war, Col. Martin moved to Evansville, Indiana, where he went into the tobacco warehouse business. Returning to the city he had attempted to burn down, he became manager for a tobacco-related company here in 1874. Thirteen years later he returned to Louisville. He died there in the winter of 1900.

Headley, also in the tobacco business, moved frequently about Kentucky and in 1891 entered upon a political career. He was elected Secretary of State of Kentucky and serving until January, 1896. Hines also became a public official. He was elected Chief Justice of Kentucky's Court of Appeals.

In the post Civil War era, Ashbrook -- the Confederate saboteur who ignited the Winter Garden where the three Booth brothers were performing -- headed the Underwriters' Association of Kentucky and Tennessee, indicating an interesting and ironic career choice for an ex-firebomber.

*Copyright on text. © 2001 by the New York Correction History Society and Thomas C. McCarthy. Noncommercial use of text permitted with citation of the society and/or its web site www.correctionhistory.org.

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