Catherine A. Masek
Dr. Samuel Mudd Road, Bryantown, Charles County
The Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House is a two part frame farmhouse. The main portion is a two-story, three-bay side-passage house, with the principal entrance with a 3-light transom occupying the west bay of the north facade. The south facade has a central entrance door. Windows are 6/6 sash throughout. A single 6/6 sash window appears in the attic gable of the east end of the house, between the two interior chimneys. The west gable ends is pierced by a single 6/6 sash window in the center of each of the three levels. The fenestration, door location, and two interior chimneys at the east end of the roof are the only original features that can be definitely established. Alterations made in 1928 include the introduction of a one-story hip-roofed porch across the facade, a centrally positioned cross gable with a six-light window, and several rear additions. It appears likely that the passage of the main block originally extended through to the rear of the house but was later shortened by the introduction of a partition wall that provided for the addition of a small bedroom. The main stair has a very simple balustrade and rises along the west wall from the northeast corner. The adjacent double parlors are connected by large pocket doors. All doors, trim, hardware, and the mantels (one has been replaced) appear original and are quite simple. The same floor plan and general treatment of the woodwork is repeated on the second floor. Positioned back from the principal facade at the east end of the main block is a smaller two-story, two-bay wing that appears to be contemporary to the main block. An additional one-story wing has been added to the east end of this addition more recently.
The national significance of the Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House is that Mudd treated the injured John Wilkes Booth, who hours before had assassinated President Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. In jumping from the Presidential box to the stage, Booth’s spur caught causing him to fracture his left leg upon landing. Despite his injury, Booth slipped across the Potomac River (11th Street) Bridge into Southern Maryland. In great pain, Booth soon realized he needed a doctor and detoured from his escape route reaching the residence of Dr. Mudd at 4 a.m., Saturday, April 15, 1865. With his features disguised, he (with an accomplice, David E. Herold) gave false names. Dr. Mudd splinted the broken bone in Booth's leg. Booth and Herold left about 2 p.m. the same day. For treating John Wilkes Booth's leg, Dr. Mudd was taken to Washington for questioning, and then jailed at the Capitol Prison. He was convicted of conspiracy in a military trial, and sentenced to imprisonment at Ft. Jefferson on Dry Tortugas Island off Key West, Florida. During his imprisonment, Mudd used his medical knowledge to save the lives of many fellow inmates during a Yellow fever epidemic. Because of his heroic services, the remaining Ft. Jefferson prisoners and guards petitioned for Mudd's release, which was granted on March 8, 1869. Dr. Mudd, however, weakened by his prison stay, never fully regained his health or his practice. "St. Catharine" has been in the Mudd family (descendants of Thomas Mudd, 1647-97) since the 1690s.