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Henry Reed Rathbone, Deposition on the events of April 14, 1865, Ford's Theater, Washington D.C.

Henry Reed Rathbone, circa 1865, detail
Major Henry Rathbone, together with his betrothed, Clara Harris, had been with President and Mrs. Lincoln in the presidential box at Ford's Theater when John Wilkes Booth entered and fatally shot the chief executive. Rathbone grappled with Booth and received a deep cut on his arm in the struggle as Booth broke away and escaped. Three days later, Major Rathbone was deposed at the office of Justice Abram B. Olin in preparation for a possible future trial of the fugitive. Rathbone gave a clear and succinct description of the crime from his point of view, up to the time when the mortally wounded Lincoln had been removed to the Peterson House. Henry Rathbone struggled the rest of life with the psychological impact of that evening and slipped into mental illness. Tragically, while the family were on diplomatic service in Germany in 1883, he murdered Clara, now his wife and mother of his three children, with a small pistol and stabbed himself several times with a dagger, the same weapons Booth used that night in April 1865. He survived but ended his days in a German asylum for the criminally insane. (By John Osborne) See also: "Major Rathbone and Miss Harris: Guests of the Lincolns in the Ford's Theatre Box," Lincoln Lore: Bulletin of the National Lincoln Life Foundation (Fort Wayne, Indiana) No 162, August, 1971, pps. 1-3.

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How to Cite This Page: "Henry Reed Rathbone, Deposition on the events of April 14, 1865, Ford's Theater, Washington D.C.," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/43879.