This is a remarkable story of a young Secret Service officer—only twenty years old when he entered into the service—who served throughout the American Civil War not principally among the battle and smoke of the field of conflict but in the shadowy world of espionage and counter espionage. Bascom-Smith initially joined the artillery, but was transferred into the Provost Marshal's department. Soon intelligence work with prisoners, the pursuit of blockade runners and the investigation, discovery and exposure of Confederate agents, spies and would be assassins became his thrilling, fascinating and daily work. This is an entirely different view of the Civil War as told through the recollections and correspondence of a member of the early U. S Intelligence agencies. Available in soft cover and hard cover with dust jacket—a perfect addition to the library of every avid book collector.
The telegram received on Saturday morning the 15th, giving a description of the person who tried to kill Secretary Seward, was quite accurate, considering it was made by persons under great excitement. The oath of allegiance which Paine pulled out of his pocket when arrested, was the document issued from our office. He had erased, however, the restriction which ordered that he was to “go north of Philadelphia and remain during the war.”<br>
Before telling of what I did after discovering Paine to be the person I had released on March 14th, I want you to read the account Mr. Oldroyd gives of his clumsily brutal attack on Secretary Seward:<br>
Lewis Payne (his real name was Lewis Thornton Powell), boarded at the Horndon House, corner Ninth and F Streets, where the Loan and Trust Building now stands, for two weeks, leaving there on the afternoon of April 14th. He paid his bill at four o’clock, and requested dinner before the regular time, and it was served to him.<br>
Very little is known of his whereabouts from that time until 10 p. m., when he rang the bell of the Seward mansion, which stood on the ground now occupied by the Lafayette Opera House.<br>
When the door was opened by the coloured doorkeeper, Payne stepped in, holding a little package in his hand, saying that he had some medicine for Secretary Seward, sent by Dr. Verdi, which he was directed to deliver in person and give instructions how it was to be taken.<br>
The doorkeeper informed him that he could not see Mr. Seward, but he repeated the words, saying he must see him. He talked very roughly for several minutes against the protest of the doorkeeper, who said he had positive orders to admit no one to the sick-chamber.<br>
The doorkeeper finally weakened, thinking perhaps he was sent by Dr. Verdi, and let him ascend the stairs. When at the top, he met Mr. Frederick Seward, a son of the Secretary’s to whom he told the object of his visit, but Mr. Seward told him that he could not see his father; that he was asleep, but to give him the medicine and he would take it to him. That would not do; he must see Mr. Seward; and then Mr. Seward said: “I am the proprietor here, and his son; if you cannot leave your message with me, you cannot leave it at all.”<br>
Payne started downstairs, and after taking a few steps, suddenly turned around and struck Mr. Frederick Seward, felling him to the floor. Sergeant George F. Robinson, acting as attendant nurse to Mr. Seward, was in an adjoining room, and on hearing the noise in the hall opened the door, where he found Payne close up to it. As soon as the door was opened, he struck Robinson in the forehead with a knife, knocking him partially down, and pressed past him to the bed of Mr. Seward, where he leaned over it and struck him three times in the neck with his dagger.<br>
Mr. Seward had been out riding shortly before the fatal day, and had been thrown from his carriage with great violence, breaking an arm and fracturing his jaw. The physician had fixed up a steel mask or frame to hold the broken bones in place while setting. The assassin’s dagger cut his face from the right cheek down to the neck, and but for this steel bandage, which deflected two of the stabs, the assassin might have accomplished his purpose.<br>
The carriage disaster was after this night almost considered a blessing in disguise. Frederick Seward suffered intensely from a fracture of the cranium. The nurse attempted to haul Payne off the bed, when he turned and attacked him the second time. During this scuffle Major Augustus H. Seward, son of Secretary Seward, entered the room and clinched Payne, and between the two they succeeded in getting him to the door, when he broke away and ran downstairs and outdoors.<br>
The coloured doorkeeper ran after the police or guards when Frederick Seward was knocked down, and returned and reported that he saw the man riding a horse and followed him to I. Street, where he was lost sight of.<br>
In some way Payne’s horse got away from him, for a little after one o’clock on the morning of the 15th Lieutenant John F. Toffey, on going to the Lincoln Hospital, East Capitol and Fifteenth Streets, where he was on duty, found a dark bay horse, with saddle and bridle on, standing at Lincoln Branch Barracks. The horse no doubt came in on a sort of byroad that led to Camp Barry, which turned north from the Branch Barracks towards the Bladensburg road. The sweat pouring from the animal had made a regular puddle on the ground. A sentinel at the hospital had stopped the horse. Lieutenant Toffey and Captain Lansing, of the 13th New York Cavalry, took the horse to the headquarters of the picket at the Old Capitol Prison, and from there to General E. O. C. Ord’s headquarters. After reaching there, they discovered that the horse was blind of one eye, which identified it as the one Booth purchased in November, 1864, from Squire George Gardiner.<br>
Immediately upon the identification of Paine I arrested the Bransons and all the occupants of their fashionable boarding house, No. 16 North Eutaw Street.