front door, stood for a few moments, after presenting a card to the President
's messenger, in the passage-way behind the dress-circle, surveying the spectacle before him; then entered the vestibule of the President
's private box, shut the door behind him, fastened it from the inside by placing a short plank (previously provided) against it, with its foot against the opposite wall, and then, holding a pistol and a dagger in either hand, stepped through the inner door into the box just behind the President
, who was leaning forward with his eyes fixed on the stage, and fired his pistol, while holding it close to the back of the President's head
, piercing his skull behind the left ear, and lodging the ball, after traversing the brain, just behind the right eye. Mr. Lincoln
's head fell slightly forward, his eyes closed, but he uttered no word or cry; and, though life was not extinct for nine hours thereafter, he gave, thenceforth to his death in a neigh-boring house, at 7:22 next morning, no sign of intelligence; and it is probable that he never on earth knew that he had been shot, or was conscious even of suffering, much less of malice and murder.
Hating and wishing ill to none, he had never comprehended the hell of demoniac passion which seethed and surged around him, and which the utter collapse of the Rebellion
had only intensified; hence, he had ever treated lightly the anonymous threats which men placed as he was receive as matters of course, and had disregarded all entreaties that he should take precautions against assassination.
The report of Booth
's pistol startled the house, but especially the President
's companions in the box; of whom, Maj. H. R. Rathbone
--the only man there beside the President
— turning his eyes, saw, through the sulphurous smoke, a stranger standing behind him, whom he instantly clutched; but Booth
, tearing away from his grasp, and dropping his pistol, made a pass at him with the dagger, inflicting a serious wound on his left arm. Rushing now to the front of the box, theatrically flourishing his weapon, and exclaiming “ Sic semper tyrannis
put his hand on the railing in front of the box, and leaped over, alighting on a corner of the stage; but, catching with one of his spurred heels in the American
flag draped across the front of the box, he fell; spraining his ankle so as to cripple his flight and afford a clue to the detectives who were soon on his trail.
Recovering immediately from his fall, he faced the audience, brandished his dagger, exclaimed “The South is avenged
and ran across the stage to and out of the back door, which he shut, and, mounting his horse — which a half-witted, stage-struck youth was there holding for him — rode off and across the Anacosta bridge
out of Washington
; seeking refuge in the adjacent region of southern Maryland
; whose Whites, being intensely pro-Slavery, were mainly Rebel sympathizers, and were therefore counted on to conceal him and aid his escape.
That President Lincoln
was the victim of a conspiracy of partisans of the Rebellion
is established by undeniable proof; not so the charge that the chiefs and master-spirits of the Confederacy
were implicated in the crime.
himself was, so far as has been shown, the projector and animating soul of the monstrous