- RAY NEFF DISCOVERS CODED MESSAGES
In 1863, Colonel Lafayette C. Baker (later promoted to Brigadier General)
was in charge of Union counter-intelligence, heading the National Detective
Bureau. In 1866, when President Andrew Johnson discovered that Baker's
Detective Bureau had the White House under surveillance, Baker was
dismissed. Baker feared (with good reason) for his life, and died
under suspicious circumstances in 1868. (Details are in *Anatomy
of an Assassination* by John Cottrell. New York: Funk & Wagnalls,
1966.) An inventory of Baker's possessions showed he owned bound volumes
of "Colburn's U.S. Magazine" for the years 1860 to 1865 --
*with* *one* *exception*: the volume for the first half of 1864 is
not listed in the inventory. Read on, for why that is important.
- Documented in Cottrell's book is the
following sworn testimony by one William Carter, who knew Baker and
visited him a few days before his death:
- [Baker] did say some things which made
me wonder. When I came into the room he had a stack of books by his bed
and he had one open and was making marks in it. I asked him what he
was doing and he said, "I'm writing my memoirs." I asked him
[again,] to make sure that I had heard him right and he said it over
again. Then I said, "But, General, them books is already wrote."
And he said, "Right, they are going to have to get up early to
get ahead of old Lafe Baker." And then he laughed. I picked up
one of the books and looked at it, and I saw that he was writing cipher
- Please note that when Ray Neff, a research
chemist, came across a bound volume of "Colburn's U.S. Magazine"
at a used bookstore 92-years after Abraham Lincoln's assassination,
none of the information in the preceding paragraphs had yet come to
- The bound volume of Colburn's magazine
which Neff chanced upon was for the latter half of 1864. Note that,
as mentioned, Baker's inventory shows that he lacked the bound volume
for the first half of 1864.
- Months after purchasing the volume,
Neff was idly thumbing through it. He noticed a series of numbers and
letters written in the margin. Mr. Leonard Fousche (a
professional cryptographer) and Neff's wife helped him decipher the messages.
- Ray Neff noticed that the bound volume
was discolored in several places. After spreading tannic acid over
one of these, it revealed a signature; Baker had apparently used
some sort of "invisible ink" method to conceal his name,
"L.C. Baker." A handwriting expert later declared the signature
to be genuine.
- Here is what the de-ciphered messages
- =1= I am constantly being followed.
They are professionals. I cannot fool them. In new Rome there walked
three men, a Judas, a Brutus and a spy. Each planned that he should
be the king when Abraham should die. One trusted not the other but
they went on for that day, waiting for that final moment when, with pistol
in his hand, one of the sons of Brutus could sneak behind that cursed
man and put a bullet in his brain and lay his clumsey [sic] corpse away.
As the fallen man lay dying, Judas came and paid respects to one he
hated, and when at last he saw him die, he said, "Now the ages
have him and the nation now have I." But, alas, fate would have
it Judas slowly fell from grace, and with him went Brutus down to their
proper place. But lest one is left to wonder what happened to the
spy, I can safely tell you this, it was I. -- Lafayette C. Baker
- =2= It was on the tenth of April, sixty-five,
when I first knew that the plan was in action. Ecert [Major Thomas
T. Eckert, in charge of military telegraph headquarters at the War Department]
had made all the contacts, the deed to be done on the fourteenth. I
did not know the identity of the assassin, but I knew most all else when
I approached E.S. [Edwin M. Stanton, Lincoln's Secretary of War] about
it. He at once acted surprised and disbelieving. Later he said:
"You are a party to it too. Let us wait and see what comes of
it and then we will know better how to act in the matter." I soon
discovered what he meant that I was a party to it when the following day
I was shown a document that I knew to be a forgery but a clever one,
which made it appear that I had been in charge of a plot to kidnap the
President, the Vice-President being the instigator. Then I became a party
to that deed even though I did not care to. On the thirteenth he discovered
that the President had ordered that the Legislature of Virginia
be allowed to assemble to withdraw that state's troops from action
against the U.S. He [Stanton] fermented immediately into an insane tyrade
[sic]. Then for the first time I realised his mental disunity and his
insane and fanatical hatred for the President. There are few in the War
Department that respect the President or his strategy, but there are
not many who would countermand an order that the President had given.
However, during that insane moment, he sent a telegram to Gen.
Weitzel countermanding the President's order of the twelfth. Then
he laughed in a most spine chilling manner and said: "If he
would to know who recinded [sic] his order we will let Lucifer tell
him. Be off, Tom, and see to the arrangements. There can be no mistakes."
This is the first that I knew that he was the one responsible for the
assassination plot. Always before I thought that either he did not
trust me, for he really trusted no one, or he was protecting someone until
it was to his benefit to expose them. But now I know the truth and
it frightens me no end. I fear that somehow I may become the sacrificial
goat. There were at least eleven members of Congress involved in the plot,
no less than twelve Army officers, three Naval officers and at least
twenty four civilians, of which one was a governor of a loyal state.
Five were bankers of great repute, three were nationally known newspapermen
and eleven were industrialists of great repute and wealth. There
were probably more that I know nothing of. The names of these known
conspirators is presented without comment or notation in Vol one of
this series. Eighty-five thousand dollars was contributed by the named
persons to pay for the deed. Only eight persons knew the details of
the plot and the identity of the others. I fear for my life, L.C.B. [Lafayette
- Ray Neff had come across the volume from
the latter half of 1864. De-ciphering Baker's message, it's learned
that the *names* of the members of Congress, military officers, bankers,
newspapermen and others could be found in Volume One. But as pointed
out at the beginning of this issue of Conspiracy Nation, when Baker had
died an inventory of his possessions showed that particular volume
to be missing.