155 Years Ago Today, President Lincoln Was Mortally Wounded
On April 14, 1865, while attending a performance of the comedy, "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theater in Washington, President Abraham Lincoln was shot and mortally wounded by John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln died the next morning.
Booth, a Confederate sympathizer, initially planned to only kidnap President Lincoln to throw the U.S. government into disarray. However, after Lincoln did not appear at the spot where Booth and his co-conspirators lay in wait to abduct him, Booth came up with a more sinister plan.
Just a little after 10 on the night of April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth slipped into President Lincoln's private box just above the stage at Ford's Theater. He took out his derringer pistol and shot Lincoln in the back of the head. A young army officer there with his wife who were guests of the President and the First Lady, rushed Booth. Booth promptly stabbed him in the shoulder and leapt onto the stage. Booth broke his leg but still managed to escape the theater.
In truth, John Wilkes Booth didn't stand much of a chance in escaping capture. Booth was a famous actor and he was immediately recognized by many members of the audience after he committed the dirty deed and jumped to the stage. As a matter of fact, Booth was the target of one of the largest manhunts in history. Over 10,000 police and federal troops were assigned to track down the assassin.
Later, Booth was found to be hiding out in a barn in Virginia with an accomplice, David Herold. On April 26, 1865, Union troops, in the hopes of flushing out the duo, set fire to the barn. David Herold eventually surrendered, but Booth remained in the barn as the fire blazed, soon to be out-of-control. Shortly afterwards, an army sergeant shot Booth in the neck. Three hours after Booth was carried out of the burning barn, he uttered the words, "Useless...useless", then died, bringing to an end one of the saddest events in the annals of American history.