Why Was Lincoln Murdered?

By Otto Eisenschiml | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
Assassination

THE story of Lincoln's assassination has never been more concisely told than through the official telegrams in which Secretary of War Stanton informed the world of that tragedy. These messages, in conformity with a rule established earlier in the war, were sent to General John A. Dix in New York, from whose headquarters they were given to the press for wider dissemination. Here are the dispatches of that memorable night:

(No. 1)

WAR DEPARTMENT

April 15, 1865 -- 1:30 A.M.

(Sent 2:15 A.M.)

Major-General DIX,

New York:

Last evening, about 10:30 P.M., at Ford's Theater, the President, while sitting in his private box with Mrs. Lincoln, Miss Harris, and Major Rathbone, was shot by an assassin, who suddenly entered the box and approached behind the President. The assassin then leaped upon the stage, brandishing a large dagger or knife, and made his escape in the rear of the theater. The pistol-ball entered the back of the President's head, and penetrated nearly through the head. The wound is mortal. The President has been insensible ever since it was inflicted, and is now dying.

About the same hour an assassin (whether the same or another) entered Mr. Seward's home, and, under pretense of having a prescription, was shown to the Secretary's sick chamber. The Secretary was in bed, a nurse and Miss Seward with him. The assassin immediately rushed to the bed, inflicted two or three stabs on the throat and two on the face. It is hoped the wounds may not be mortal; my apprehension is that they will

____________________
1
Official Records, Series I, vol. 46, part 3, pp. 780, 781

-6-

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