At 7:30 on a cold and rainy morning, April 15, 1865, Dr. Charles Augustus Leale sadly pronounced dead Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States.
Then, Leale walked across 10th Street in Washington, D.C. from the Peterson Boarding House, where Lincoln’s lifeless body lay, back to Ford’s Theatre, where the assassination had taken place the evening before and where he had attempted to save the life of President Lincoln.
As Dr. Leale walked, he looked down at his shirt cuffs – they were spotted with blood. The blood of President Lincoln.
Entering Ford’s Theater, he looked up to the patriotically festooned box seat where President Lincoln had been assassinated. Then, he found his way to his seat in the Dress Circle, about 40 feet from where the President was shot.
And there, where it had fallen when he jumped up to save the life of President Lincoln, he found his hat.
Leale was 23, a young medical officer in the Union Army. Because he was the first doctor to arrive at the slain President’s side, he was appointed the official medical doctor to attend the President by the other doctors, who later joined him.
It was Dr. Leale, who insisted that the wounded President be moved to the Boarding House across the street from Ford’s Theatre instead of to the more distant White House.
Leaving the empty theatre that cold morning, Dr. Leale next did what was expected of him. He wrote a report to his Superior Officers. It was a long, personal, moment by moment narrative from the instant he arrived at Lincoln’s side to the moment he pronounced the President dead. It was an intimate, first person account by the only person who could write it.
Forty-four years later, in a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth, Dr. Leale was asked to speak about that terrible evening. He found his copy of his report to the Surgeon General and used it as the basis for his extraordinary narrative.
Listen2Read audiobooks has recorded Dr. Leale’s personal narrative, “Lincoln’s Last Hours,” movingly read by Andre Devin.
There have been many books and articles written about the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, but nothing, in my opinion, as extraordinary as this young doctor’s account: https://listen2read.com/lincolns-last-hours/
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“Lincoln’s Last Hours” by Dr. Charles Augustus Leale
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