Lincoln’s assassination: 1st doc’s report unearthed
London: The first doctor to treat President Abraham Lincoln after he was shot in a Washington theater rushed to his ceremonial box and found him paralyzed, comatose and leaning against his wife.
Discovered in a box at the National Archives late last month, a long-lost report by Dr Charles Leale details the efforts to help the mortally wounded president, and was written just hours after his death, the Telegraph reported.
“I heard cries that the ‘President had been murdered,’ which were followed by those of ‘Kill the murderer’ ‘Shoot him’ etc which came from different parts of the audience,” Leale wrote.
“I immediately ran to the Presidents box and as soon as the door was opened was admitted and introduced to Mrs. Lincoln when she exclaimed several times, ‘O Doctor, do what you can for him, do what you can!’
The Army surgeon, who sat 40 feet from Lincoln at Ford’s Theater that night in April 1865, saw assassin John Wilkes Booth jump to the stage, brandishing a dagger. Thinking Lincoln had been stabbed, Leale pushed his way to the victim but found a different injury.
“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 reported.
“The coagula I easily removed and passed the little finger of my left hand through the perfectly smooth opening made by the ball.”
The historians who discovered the report believe it was filed, packed in a box, stored at the archives and not seen for 147 years. While it doesn’t add much new information about the tragedy, “it’s the first draft” of history, said Daniel Stowell, director of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln.
“What’s fascinating about this report is its immediacy and its clinical, just-the-facts approach,” Stowell said. “There’s not a lot of flowery language, not a lot of emotion.”