A new and fasnicating document has been found in Springfield, Illinois, which details the first moments after Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theater.
The document, written by Dr. Charles Leale, states that he saw John Wilkes Booth jump up on stage waving a dagger around moments before cries filled the theater that the president had been killed. When he rushed to Lincoln’s side, however, he couldn’t find a knife wound and discovered instead a small hole filled with blood.
“I commenced to examine his head (as no wound near the shoulder was found) and soon passed my fingers over a large firm clot of blood situated about one inch below the superior curved line of the occipital bone,” Leale wrote. “The coagula I easily removed and passed the little finger of my left hand through the perfectly smooth opening made by the ball.”
Leale actually successfully resuscitated Lincoln, who was unconscious and slumped over when the doctor reached him, but the president later died from his wound.
Lincoln researcher Helena Iles Papaioannou found the report among the U.S. surgeon general’s April 1865 correspondence and says historians believe it was filed away and was simply forgotten for almost 150 years. Researchers have been digging through box after box of Lincoln documents at the National Archives for years, so this document is quite a find for them.
“I knew it was interesting. What we didn’t know was this was novel,” Papaioannou said. “We didn’t know that this was new, that this was an 1865 report and that it likely hadn’t been seen before.”
News of the document comes at an interesting time, since a new film chronicling the adventures of Lincoln as a vampire hunter is about to be released. You can expect to see an influx in Lincoln-related news in the coming weeks, I’m sure.