James William Boyd

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Captain James William Boyd, CSA

James William Boyd (Sept. 14, 1822, Hopkinsville, Kentucky - Jan. 1, 1866, Tennessee) was an officer in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, and who later came into prominence as a double for Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth according to several conspiracy theories.

Not much is known of Boyd; what is known was that his wife was named Caroline, and he was the father of seven children prior to the outbreak of war. He had served in the 6th Tennessee Infantry and risen to the rank of captain. Boyd was captured in December, 1864, and Caroline died soon after. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton signed off a petition authorizing his release from prison on February 14, 1865, enabling Boyd to return to Jackson, Tennessee and care for his children. It is from that point that he disappears from history.

During the 1930s Otto Eisenschiml, a former chemist-turned amateur historian, presented a theory in which the Lincoln Assassination was carried out by the highest levels of government. Booth - according to his theory - was not the man shot in a tobacco barn on the Garrett farm near Bowling Green, Virginia on April 26, 1865; it was James William Boyd. Eisenschiml claimed Stanton was embarrassed by the wrong man being shot and fearful of having the public know Booth had escaped, so he decided that Boyd's body should be paraded as Booth before being buried in an unmarked grave. The Lincoln Conspiracy (1977) by Charles E. Sellier and David Balsiger goes into detail about the Eisenschiml theory and their own views of the assassination and cover-up of Booth's escape, his hiding in Japan, and death in Enid, Oklahoma. The Curse of Cain: The Untold Story of John Wilkes Booth (1998) by Theodore J. Nottingham repeats the claim.