‘Manhunt’ Episode 3 Recap: Why Does Booth Shoot His Horse?

In the previous episode of Manhunt, Edward Stanton, Lincoln’s Secretary of War and friend was determined to uncover the conspiracy which had his friend killed. The investigation eventually leads him to John Surratt Jr, a confederate spy. Surratt, along with his mother, and John Wilkes Booth had conspired to kill Lincoln. However, Stanton and his men suspect that Surratt and Booth’s action’s had been sponsored by an external actor. As he digs deeper into Surratt’s connections, Stanton finds evidence hidden at Surratt’s Maryland boarding house. Behind a concealed compartment, Stanton and his men discover a cache of telegrams and encrypted messages exchanged between Surratt and Confederate President Jefferson Davis, proving Stanton’s suspicions. 

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As Stanton races against time to close in on Surratt and unravel the conspiracy, the story introduces the character of Mary Simms, a slave at Dr. Mudd’s lodge. Mary is discouraged by the fear of her slaver but wishes to reveal critical information about John Wilkes Booth’s whereabouts.

In an ideal world, Lincoln wouldn’t have died, and it wouldn’t have taken another 100 years to end apartheid in the United States. I wouldn’t say that the attitude that led to apartheid has ever ended, but the American White man has still not learned the lesson, and even now the Confederate ideology hasn’t left the southern states. Look at Rednecks for an example. But again, this episode of Manhunt shows the gritty reality of the things that happened after Lincoln died and Andrew Johnson took power. It is said that Andrew Johnson’s personal politics with Edward Stanton were part of the reason the reconstruction era after the war was such a failure. Experts even blame Johnson’s incompetency for practically reversing everything that Lincoln lived and died for. 

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Spoilers Ahead


Why Is Booth Adamant About Going To Richmond?

Richmond, Virginia, is the capital of the Confederates, and even though it has been destroyed by the Union now, Booth wishes to head there. Despite being discouraged by fellow Confederate sympathizers against going to Richmond, Booth seems rather adamant. The truth is, he wants to be revered for his actions and to be revered as a hero. Some Southerners did think that Booth rekindled the Confederates’ cause. In the beginning of the series, Booth is seen dreaming about becoming the President of the Confederate States of America. Taking a life wasn’t easy for Booth, but now that he has, it’s as if his actions have made him a symbol of hope for the Confederates. Booth’s actions had indeed immortalized him, but maybe not in the light of a hero he thought he was. 

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What Illness Is Stanton Suffering From? 

Throughout the events following Lincoln’s death, Stanton is seen having difficulty breathing. Stanton suffers from asthma, a condition that develops during childhood, but considering how stressful Stanton’s life has become lately, his asthma has become more recurrent, making it difficult for him to even breathe. In fact, his doctor even diagnoses that his asthma has become even more severe. His lung capacity has diminished, and if he doesn’t rest, it might even prove fatal. However, Stanton cannot bring himself to stay at rest. He has a lot on his shoulders, but mostly, he is grappling with the fear that everything his friend, Lincoln, has built is almost on the verge of shattering. 


What Was Lincoln’s Reconstruction Plan? 

Lincoln wasn’t pro to the idea of harshly punishing the Confederate rebels. Lincoln acknowledged that he was in power and that he could do anything he wanted with the Southerners. But he was a fair man and saw no point in executing the Confederate leaders or even imprisoning them. He felt that imprisoning and executing half a country would nullify the purpose of the war. He wants the Confederates to save face and make a living under the new laws of the country, which don’t allow the ownership of one man over another. Moreover, he was initially a bit doubtful about letting Black men enlist in the army before they were even made citizens. However, on Stanton’s advice to see their enlistment as a moral as well as tactical move, he allows it. 

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What Does Johnson’s Reconstruction Plan Look Like? 

Personally, I do not know much about Andrew Johnson, but according to Manhunt, Johnson is an extremely incompetent man. He was the US Vice-President but knew nothing about Lincoln’s administration. His excuse is that Vice-Presidents are not exposed to politics as much. When he assumes the office of President, he turns to Edward Stanton, the secretary of war, to learn about the reconstruction plan, and that too in extremely simple words. 

Even though Stanton was a close friend of Lincoln, he didn’t see eye to eye with him about letting the traitors leave without consequences, which is why Stanton advised that there needed to be a line between traitors and citizens. Johnson presumably agrees with Stanton, clarifying that he only wants wins in his first month. 

However, later on, Johnson declares amnesty for all the Confederates and pardons all parties involved in the rebellion. The same morning, in front of Stanton’s house, his battalion of Black servicemen was distributing rations to White and Black folks. However, based on racially motivated misjudgement, Leech, a white man, accuses a young Black private of stealing a horse. Leech believes that a Black man can never own a horse that expensive. After a disagreement, Leech shoots the serviceman in cold blood. Johnson, however, pardons a man who murdered a Black private in the US army, declaring it an act of self-defense.


What Happens To Surratt Jr.? 

In the previous episode, James Wallace, an agent of the Union, had been sent to Montreal to look for John Surratt Jr. Seeking answers, he meets George Sanders, a collaborator of the Confederates. Sanders reveals that Surratt is indeed in Montreal, visiting his father. Stanton, knowing that Surratt doesn’t have a father, goes to Lewis Powell to question him about the hidden meaning behind this. Powell discloses that Weichmann and Surratt were almost going to become priests at the monastery in Montreal, suggesting that Surratt is being hidden by the priest at the Catholic monastery in Montreal. 

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Subsequently, Wallace goes to the monastery and indeed finds Surratt, working in the garden disguised as a priest. Wallace takes Surratt into his custody inside his safe house, but is overpowered by Surrat, who ties Wallace up and escapes. By the time Stanton arrives in Montreal, he finds out that Surratt has already left the city. The ship Surrat boarded was deliberately sunk by him as he swam across and boarded another boat, leaving for Liverpool, UK. Stanton’s men find Surratt’s wreckage, where Stanton found John Booth’s ID. Stanton speculates that Surratt did so to fake his death so that Booth’s manhunt could finally come to an end and the hero of the Confederacy could roam free. 


Why Does Booth Shoot His Horse? 

On their way to Richmond, Booth and Davis couldn’t find any feed for the horses because the sale of feed had been prohibited by Stanton’s decree to deliberately slow down Lincoln’s murderer. When they finally part ways with their black scout, they’re again left without any feed, and the horses go hungry. As Booth and his accomplice wait to cross the river into Virginia, they spend the night looking for ways into Virginia. They cannot simply cross the river, as Union servicemen are patrolling on their boats. However, throughout the night, the horses have been quite noisy because of hunger. Therefore, Booth shoots his horse, fearing that the horse will catch the attention of the Union soldiers. 

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Shrey Ashley Philip
Shrey Ashley Philip
A teacher, photographer, linguist, and songwriter, Shrey started out as a Biotechnology graduate, but shifted to studying Japanese. Now he talks about movies, advocates for ADHD awareness, and embraces Albert Camus.

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