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Rathbone. The two latter have since become man and wife. Hon. George Ashmun, of Massachusetts, was in conversation with Mr. Lincoln until he entered his carriage, and it was agreed that Mr. Ashmun and a friend, Judge C. P. Daly of New York, should have an interview with the President the next morning. In order to guard against any delay, he took a card, and resting it upon his knee, wrote with a pencil :
“Allow Mr. Ashmun and friend to come to me at 9 o'clock A. M., to-morrow, April 15, 1865.
Handing the card to Mr. Ashmun, he rode away. Those were, without doubt, the last words he ever wrote.
The box occupied by the Presidential party was about twelve feet above the stage, looking directly upon it. The play for the evening was called “Our American Cousin.” About half past nine o'clock, at a part of the play when the stage was vacant, and all eyes were intently fixed upon it, awaiting the entrance of the next actor, the report of a pistol startled those in the vicinity of the box occupied by Mr. Lincoln. Major Rathbone turning around, saw through the smoke a man standing in the rear of the President. The Major sprang up and grappled him, but the man dropped his pistol, made a thrust at him with a large knite, inflicting a severe wound in the left arm, and wrested himself away. He rushed to the front of the box, and brandishing the knife theatrically, shouted, “Sic semper tyrannis .!”—Such be ever the fate of tyrants. He then put his hands on the railing and leaped over on the corner of the stage. Having provided himself with a spur to assist in his flight, it caught in the folds of an American fay it was necessary for him to pass over. As if consCIUIIS of the great crime against freedom, the flag wrenched the spur from his boot which caused him to fall
nearly prostrate, by which, it was afterwards ascertained, a bone in one of his legs was broken. Notwithstanding this severe injury he quickly recovered, sprang to his feet, again brandished his dagger, and exclaimed, “The South is avenged !" and rushed out of the back door of the Theatre, which he shut after him, mounted a horse which an accomplice was holding, and rode off across the Anacosta bridge into Maryland, where he expected to make his escape by the aid of rebel sympathizers.
When the shot was fired, Mr. Lincoln's head fell slightly forward, his eyes closed, but he uttered no word or cry. Mrs. Lincoln screamed, and Miss Harris called for water. Laura Keene, the actress, having her own feelings under perfect control, entreated the audience to be calm, and entered the box from the stage, bearing water and cordials. Women in the audience shrieked and fainted, men called for vengeance, and the most terrible uproar prevailed. The President was at once conveyed out of the Theatre to a neighboring residence where he lay unconscious for nine hours, and breathed his last at twenty-two minutes past seven o'clock on Saturday morning, April 15, 1865. The house in which he died was No. 453 Tenth street, a plain three story brick building. It was the residence of a family by the name of Peter
The ball entered the skull behind the left ear, crashed upward through the brain, and lodged behind the right eye.
It is not believed that he ever knew he was shot, or was conscious of suffering. As before stated, he had many times been threatened with assassination through anonymous letters, had often been entreated by his friends to take some precautions for his own protection, but having "charity for all, and feeling malice towards none," he went along, seemingly unconscious of the malicious and fienuish elements around him.
As soon as the horrid deed was accomplished, the assassin was recognized, while on the stage, as John Wilkes Booth, an actor who was familiar with the Theatre. It was soon ascertained that an attempt had been made, and came very near being successful, to assassinate the Hon. W. H. Seward, the Secretary of State, and his son Frederick Seward. The whole detective force of the Government, and the police force of the City of Washington, were at once called into requisition to arrest the assassins and unravel the intricacies of the plot.
The greatest efforts were made to arrest Booth, large rewards being offered for himself and accomplices. After many false moves, the detectives, under Col. L. C. Baker, got on the true scent. found that Booth had penetrated about thirty miles into Maryland, followed by Harold, who had held the horse for him on the night of the assassination. They learned that Booth's broken leg had been dressed by Dr. Mudd, who had furnished him with a crutch. Crippled as he was, he for ten days eluded his
pursuers, hiding in the swamps by day, and at night working his way further South.
About thirty miles south of Washington he crossed over the Potomac river into Virginia, and in a few hours more would have been under the protection of Moseby's rebel guerrillas. By means of information volunteered by the colored people, and in some instances extorted from the whites, they traced him to the point where he was ferried across the river. They then found the ferryman, and by threats compelled him to reveal the hiding place of Booth, which was in a barn belonging to a man by the name of Garratt. It was near the town of Bowling Green, between that place and Port Royal. Bowling Green is the county seat of Caroline county. The pursuing party, twenty-eight in number, were a portion of the Sixteenth New York Cavalry, under Colonel Conger. They
surrounded the barn about dusk, on Tuesdav evening, and soon ascertained that Booth and Harold were both in the barn. A long parley ensued. Harold finally surrendered, but Booth utterly refused to give himself up, and expressed a determination never to be taken alive. Col. Conger becoming convinced that longer delay was useless, and wishing, if possible, to avoid shooting him dead, ordered fire to be communicated to some loose straw in the barn, hoping to drive him out where he could be captured.
Booth, seeing death or surrender was inevitable, obstinately refused to come out, and leaning upon his crutch, was in the act of taking aim at one of the suing party, who were stationed so as to command every point of observation.
Lieutenant Dougherty, seeing his movements, ordered Sergeant Boston Corbett to fire, which he did with a large cavalry pistol. The ball entered just below the right ear, and came ont about an inch above the left ear. He died after suffering about two and a half hours in great agony. The barn was fired about three o'clock Wednesday morning, April 26th ; Booth received the shot within less than an hour, and died that morning. He was a native of Baltimore, and was twenty-six years of age. The body of Booth was taken back to Washington, and after being fully identified, was disposed of by government authority.
Nine of the more immediate conspirators, including Booth, suffered speedy punishment. Harold, Payne who attempted to take the life of Mr. Seward-Atzerott and Mrs. Surratt, were hung; Arnold, Mudd and McLaughlin, were imprisoned for life, and Spangler for six years.
John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln not because there was any personal animosity between them, but as part of a plot to kill all the leading members of the Government that had conquered the slaveholders' conspiracy to destroy it.
events connected with the capture, death and burial of the assassin, were transpiring, it was far different with his victim.
The excitement caused by the intelligence of the death of President Lincoln, not only in our own nation but throughout the civilized world, has never been equalled in human history. Cities, towns and villages, were draped in mourning; all classes and conditions of people lamented him as a father, and everywhere the insignia of sorrow was visible.
We left the party who had gone down to Fort Sumter to restore the old flag to its rightful place, at the close of Mr. Beecher's oration, still on that pile of historic ruins. . All unconscious of what was transpiring at the capitol of the nation—there being no telegraphic communication between it and the rebel States—the excursionists betook themselves to sightseeing, and thus spent the entire day of Saturday, the fifteenth, visiting famous localities of the once haughty, but now desolate and ruined city of Charleston. The Sabbath, too, was appropriately spent in religious services among the freed people of the city. Mr. Beecher preached in Zion's Church to an audidience of three thousand dusky-skinned but eager and attentive auditors. Thus they spent Saturday and Sabbath, intending to continue down the coast to Florida before their return. As they were abont to resume their journey, the appalling news reached them that President Lincoln had been assassinated our the evening of the day they had just been celebrating. All desire to extend their visit vanished, and the prow of the Arago was at once turned homeward that they might the more freely unite with their friends in expressions of sorrow at the loss of him who had piloted our Ship of State safely through the most teritfic storm of civil war ever experienced by any government on the globe.