As has been covered widely in the news, a researcher hunting through the National Archives for letters by Abraham Lincoln recently uncovered a doctor’s report of the 16th president’s assassination.
Army surgeon Charles Leale, MD, attended the theater the night the President was killed and was the first doctor on the scene. The report reads:
“Having been the first of our profession who arrived to the assistance of our late President, and having been requested by Mrs. Lincoln to do what I could for him I assumed the charge until the Surgeon General and Dr Stone his family physician arrived, which was about 20 minutes after we had placed him in bed in the house of Mr. Peterson opposite the theatre, and as I remained with him until his death, I humbly submit the following brief account.”
A news article from CNN captures the reaction of the researcher, Helena Iles Papaioannou, who works for Papers of Abraham Lincoln:
“You get a sense of helplessness,” said Papaioannou. “I think it was fairly immediate that he realized that the president wasn’t going to recover.” Papaioannou said that, to her, the most moving part of Leale’s report is his account of covering Lincoln shortly after the president was carried to a back bedroom of the Peterson House.
“He talks about how the president’s legs — his lower extremities, from the knees down — were cold, and they brought him hot water bottles and hot blankets. I find that a very touching part of the report.”
The report largely confirms other accounts of the assassination, but adds a few details about times and pulse rate during the night.