This week, two interesting news stories broke in regard to the War Between the States. It was announced that descendants of John Wilkes Booth are exhuming his brother's body in order to obtain DNA. It will then be compared to the person thought to be buried as John Wilkes Booth. Speculation has circulated since his death (he was shot in a barn two weeks after assassinating President Abraham Lincoln) that an impostor was actually shot, and that the real JWB escaped and lived until 1903, when he committed suicide in Enid, Oklahoma under the assumed name of John St. Helen. Theories exist that he was a member of the Knights of the Golden Circle, an elite group of Confederates who concealed Booth's identity and assisted in his escape.
Another discovery concerns a message in a bottle. The find was given to the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia in 1896. It was a gift from Capt. William A. Smith, of King George County, who served during the Vicksburg siege. The message, dated July 4, 1863, was encrypted, and the curator of the museum finally became curious enough to find out what was inside the tiny 2" bottle. Essentially, the author, who is believed to have been Maj. Gen. John G. Walker, of the Texas Division, and who had under his command William Smith, the donor of the bottle, stated that he was unable to provide support to General Pemberton, the Confederate General who was under siege in Vicksburg, Mississippi. It was on that same day that the Confederate army surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant's Union forces.