Kitty Felde

Pushy journalists forced government to move Lincoln conspirators

Tune in Monday to my feature about the real life Mary Surratt and the incidents portrayed in Robert Redford's film "The Conspirator." Here's one story that didn't fit in the story. The alleged Lincoln conspirators were originally held at the Washington Navy Yard, right next to the stadium where the Washington Nationals play baseball today. But prosecutors had a problem with leaks. Journalists allegedly bribed guards and got access to the prisoners. So the government put them on a boat and moved them down the Anacostia River a mile to Fort Leslie McNair. It was an Army arsenal and an abandoned prison, with a 16 foot brick wall and rivers on three sides. Tough for reporters to gain access. Today, all you need is a picture ID to get access to the fort and you can see for yourself the building that housed the courthouse and the patch of grass where the gallows were built and the graves were dug.

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