Sgt. Silas Cobb was on duty at Washington’s Navy Yard Bridge on April 14, 1865 when John Wilkes Booth came riding up, fresh from assassinating President Lincoln.
Cobb asked his name, and Booth gave his real name. He said he was headed for Beantown, his real destination, the area where Dr. Samuel Mudd lived.
Cobb told Booth there were orders that no person be allowed to cross the bridge after 9 p.m. without proper paper, but Cobb relented and let Booth cross.
The war was finished, and Booth was heading out of Washington, not in, so Cobb saw no threat. He let Booth escape, necessitating a national manhunt that would continue for 12 days.