Reprinted in Clara E. Laughlin, The Death of Lincoln: The Story of Booth's Plot, His Deed and the Penalty (New York: Doubleday, Page and Company, 1909), 289-292.
John Osborne, Dickinson College
The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.
MAJOR RATHBONE'S STATEMENT
Before Judge A. B. Olin, Justice Supreme Court, District of Columbia, on the 17th of April, Major Henry R. Rathbone subscribed and swore to the following statement:
That on April 14th, 1865, at about twenty minutes past eight o'clock in the evening, he, with Miss Clara H. Harris, left his residence, at the corner of Fifteenth and H Streets, and joined the President and Mrs. Lincoln, and went with them in their carriage to Ford's Theatre, in Tenth Street. The box assigned to the President is in the second tier, on the right-hand side of the audience, and was occupied by the President and Mrs. Lincoln, Miss Harris, and the deponent — and by no other person. The box is entered by passing from the front of the building, in the rear of the dress circle, to a small entry or passage-way, about eight feet in length and four feet in width.
This passage-way is entered by a door, which opens on the inner side. The door is so placed as to make an acute angle between it and the wall behind it on the inner side. At the inner end of this passage-way is another door, standing squarely across, and opening into the box. On the left-hand side of the passage-way, and very near the inner end, is a third door, which also opens into the box. This latter door was closed. The party entered the box through the door at the end of the passage-way. The box is so constructed that it may be divided into two by a movable partition, one of the doors described opening into each. The front of the box is about ten or twelve feet in length, and in the centre of the railing is a small pillar overhung with a curtain. The depth of the box from front to rear is about nine feet. The elevation of the box above the stage, including the railing, is about ten or twelve feet.
When the party entered the box, a cushioned arm-chair was standing at the end of the box farthest from the stage and nearest the audience. This was also the nearest point to the door by which the box is entered. The President seated himself in this chair — and, except that he once left the chair for the purpose of putting on his overcoat, remained so seated until he was shot. Mrs. Lincoln was seated in a chair between the President and the pillar in' the centre above described. At the opposite end of the box — that nearest the end of the stage — were two chairs. In one of these, standing in the corner, Miss Harris was seated. At her left hand, and along the wall running from that end of the box to the rear, stood a small sofa. At the end of this sofa, next to Miss Harris, this deponent was seated. The distance between this deponent and the President, as they were sitting, was about seven or eight feet; and the distance between this deponent and the door was about the same. The distance between the President, as he sat, and the door, was about four or five feet. The door, according to the recollection of this deponent, was not closed during the evening. When the second scene of the third act was being performed, and while this deponent was intently observing the proceedings upon the stage, with his back toward the door, he heard the discharge of a pistol behind him, and looking around, saw, through the smoke, a man between the door and the President. At the same time deponent heard him shout some word, which deponent thinks was "Freedom!" This deponent instantly sprang toward him and seized him; he wrested himself from the grasp, and made a violent thrust at the breast of deponent with a large knife. Deponent parried the blow by striking it up, and received a wound several inches deep in his left arm, between the elbow and the shoulder. The orifice of thewound is about an inch and a half in length, and extends upward toward the shoulder several inches. The man rushed to the front of the box, and deponent endeavoured to seize him again, but only caught his clothes as he was leaping over the railing of the box. The clothes, as deponent believes, were torn in this attempt to seize him.
As he went over upon the stage deponent cried out, with a loud voice: "Stop that man!" Deponent then turned to the President; his position was not changed; his head was slightly bent forward, and his eyes were closed. Deponent saw that he was unconscious, and supposing him mortally wounded, rushed to the door for the purpose of calling medical aid. On reaching the outer door of the passage-way, as above described, deponent found it barred by a heavy piece of plank, one end of which was secured in the wall, and the other resting against the door. It had been so securely fastened that it required considerable force to remove it. This wedge, or bar, was about four feet from the floor. Persons upon the outside were beating against the door for the purpose of entering. Deponent removed the bar, and the door was opened.
Several persons, who represented themselves to be surgeons, were allowed to enter. Deponent saw there Colonel Crawford, and requested him to prevent other persons from entering the box. Deponent then returned to the box, and found the surgeons examining the President's person. They had not yet discovered the wound. As soon as it was discovered it was determined to remove him from the theatre. He was carried out, and this deponent then proceeded to assist Mrs. Lincoln, who was intensely excited, to leave the theatre. On reaching the head of the stairs, deponent requested Major Potter to aid him in assisting Mrs. Lincoln across the street, to the house to which the President was being conveyed. The wound which the deponent had received had been bleeding very profusely, and on reaching the house, feeling very faint from the loss of blood, he seated himself in the hall, and soon after fainted away, and was laid upon the floor. Upon the return of consciousness deponent was taken in a carriage to his residence.
In the review of the transaction it is the confident belief of this deponent that the time which elapsed between the discharge of the pistol and the time when the assassin leaped from the box did not exceed thirty seconds. Neither Mrs. Lincoln nor Miss Harris had left their seats.