Civil War Wiki

James William Boyd (1822 – 1903) was a Confederate States of America military officer who was alleged in a conspiracy theory to have been killed in the place of John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Abraham Lincoln.

Biographical documentation on Boyd’s life is scant. It has been determined that he was a captain in the 6th Tennessee Infantry of Confederate States Army during the American Civil War, and that he was a prisoner of war in December 1864 when he requested permission to be released so he could return to his home in Jackson, Tennessee, to take care of his seven motherless children; Boyd’s wife Caroline died while he was incarcerated. Edwin M. Stanton, the U.S. Secretary of War, approved Boyd’s petition on February 14, 1865. Boyd’s official whereabouts following his release remain a mystery – his son James received a letter to meet Boyd in Brownsville, Texas, for a trip to Mexico, but Boyd never showed up for the rendezvous and no further contact was ever received from him.[1]

According to a theory put forth by the 1977 book and subsequent film The Lincoln Conspiracy, Boyd was mistaken for John Wilkes Booth and killed on April 26, 1865, at Richard Garrett's farm, near Bowling Green, Caroline County, Virginia. The theory adds that the U.S. government was aware of the error, but covered it up and, thus, enabled Booth to escape to freedom.[2]


  1. Leonard Guttridge (March 8, 2004). "In Defense of Dark Union". History News Network. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  2. "The Lincoln Conspiracy: Review". TV Guide Online. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 


  • The Lincoln Conspiracy (ISBN 1-56849-531-5) details the assassination, the Boyd plot, and Booth's escape to the swamps.
  • The Curse of Cain: The Untold Story of John Wilkes Booth (ISBN 1-58006-021-8) continues with the claim that Booth escaped, sought refuge in Japan and eventually returned to the United States where he died in Enid, Oklahoma in 1903.