26 April 2010

A Witness To History - Abram Snay & The Capture of John Wilkes Booth

The last surviving member of the "Lincoln's Avengers" was Abram Snay, who was also my 2nd great-granduncle. He was one of 26 men under Lieutenant Edward P. Doherty who captured John Wilkes Booth.

Picture of Abram Snay

Abram Snay was the son of Peter & Sophia (Swinyer) Snay and the brother of my 2nd great-grandmother, Mary Jane (Snay) Swinyer.

The Lincoln's Avengers - Men of the Adirondacks," an article by Steven G. Miller. Mr. Miller provided me with some interesting details about Snay and the Lincoln's Avengers (via e-mail correspondence):

Capt. Doherty realized that the detectives with the patrol were trying to claim that the soldiers were "merely an escort" and therefore not entitled to any of the $75,000 reward offered for the arrest of Booth & Herold by the War Department. Doherty, who had studied law in Canada and was the JAG officer for the 16th Cav., had some of the soldiers swear out affidavits about what they did, heard and saw. Snay gave one of these statements.

“Personally appeared before me Abraham Snay, Co. A 16th N.Y. Cavy, who being duly sworn deposes as follows:

Arrived at Port Conway with Capt. Doherty and a detective and some fifteen or sixteen of the men of the 16th N.Y. Cavy.

While Capt. Doherty was conversing with Rollins and the ladies, Baker, one of the detectives, came up where they were standing.

Went into Bowling Green, dismounted, and assisted in surrounding the house where Jett was found. We then returned towards Port Royal, and when within about four miles of that place, Capt. Doherty who was ahead rode back and said to us, ‘Here is the house. I want you to surround it. and let no man out.’

The house was surrounded. I was stationed in rear. I saw young Garrett come out of the corn house. I leveled my carbine at him. He cried out, ‘I am a paroled prisoner.’ I told him to advance. He held up his hands and advanced.

At that moment the Corporal came up and took Garrett round to the front of the house. Presently I saw Capt. Doherty with Garrett’s son running past me towards the barn. I heard someone say to surround the barn. Capt. Doherty went round the barn and posted the men. There was considerable talk after this between the Captain, Booth and Baker touching the surrender of Booth. Finally I heard Capt. Doherty say, ‘Let him out.” I then heard Doherty say to Herold, ‘Put out your hands. Herold did as directed. Capt. Doherty took him by the wrists and pulled him out of the barn. While searching him, a shot was fired, and I noticed the barn on fire. Some of the men rushed in and carried out Booth who had been wounded in the neck.”

Abram Snay Co. A, 16th N.Y. Cavy.
Sworn and subscribed before me at Washington D.C. this 29th day of May 1865
H. M. Gaylord
Abram Snay's name on "Exhibit B," "Powers of Attorney given by claimants adjudged to be entitled to shares in the several rewards." "Captors of Booth and Herold."

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