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0100_061E The Life, Crime and Capture of John Wilkes Booth George Alfred Townsend

Letter I: The Murder

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In Secretary Seward's chamber, a similar although not so solemn a scene prevailed; between that chamber and the one occupied by President Lincoln, visitors alternated to and fro through the night. It had been early ascertained that the wounds of the secretary were not likely to prove mortal. A wire instrument, to relieve the pain which he suffered from previous injuries, prevented the knife of the assassin from striking too deep. Mr. Frederick Seward's injuries were more serious. His forehead was broken in by the blow from, the pistol, and up to this hour he has remained perfectly unconscious. The operation of trepanning the skull has been performed, but little hope is had of his recovery. Major Seward will get well. Mr. Hansell's condition is somewhat doubtful.

Secretary Seward, who cannot speak, was not informed of the assassination of the President, and the injury of his son, until yesterday. He had been worrying as to why Mr. Lincoln did not visit him. "Why does'nt the President come to see me?" he asked with his pencil. "Where is Frederick--what is the matter with him?" Perceiving the nervous excitement which these doubts occasioned, a consultation was had, at which it was finally determined that it would be best to let the secretary know the worst. Secretary Stanton was chosen to tell him. Sitting down beside Mr. Seward's bed, yesterday afternoon, he therefore related to him a full account of the whole affair. Mr. Seward was so surprised and shocked that he raised one hand involuntarily, and groaned. Such is the condition of affairs at this stage of the terror. The pursuit of the assassins has commenced; the town is full of wild and baseless rumors; much that is said is stirring, little is reliable. I tell it to you as I get it, but fancy is more prolific than truth: be patient! [Footnote: The facts above had been collected by Mr. Jerome B. Stillion, before my arrival in Washington: the arrangement of them is my own.]

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The Life, Crime and Capture of John Wilkes Booth
George Alfred Townsend

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