Surgical Analysis of the


    Cause of the Assassin


       Booth's Death

     Booth's wound and death were so peculiar that they deserve notice and attention. A post-mortem examination was made; but the result has not been published; yet sufficient is known to enable us to state what were the parts injured, his sufferings, and his painful horrid death. 

     The ball from the cavalry revolver entered on the left side, back of the head and below it, and passed out on the right side. He fell a helpless mass, unable to move, exclaiming: "I am finished!' He was carried out of the burning barn and laid upon the grass and survived the wound four hours. He requested several times to be turned or moved from side to side, on his stomach, and asked to see his hands. When raised he gazed upon the helpless dead members, exclaiming, "useless--useless," and asked more than once of those about him "to kill him," thus to end his pain and sufferings. 

     From these statements from those who were about him, and witnessed the "fussy doctor" probe his wound, we knew that he had a wound of the spinal cord, about the second cerebral vertebra, which was doubtless fractured. Such a wound would produce complete paralysis of the arms, legs, and lower portion of the trunk, while respiration and action of the heart would continue, as the nerves which proceed to those organs pass off from the cranium, and not from the spinal cord. The mind was clear and undisturbed, save from the shock of the wound and pain; but the brain was uninjured. It was a living, active mind, with a dead, helpless body, with the most excruciating, agonizing pain that a human body can be subject to. We once saw an officer with a similar wound lower down in the spine; his sufferings were terrible, and he prayed and implored all about him to "kill him" and end his misery.  

     In Booth's case the nerves of organic life, respiration and circulation, were uninjured, and the only muscles over which he could exert any volition were those of the head and face. From the moment the ball struck him he was dead and helpless, with a mind clear in intense suffering, a living witness of his own just punishment for his atrocious deed. Was there not the avenging hand of God upon him from the moment he exclaimed, upon the stage of Ford's theater, "I am avenged!' In the leap upon the stage the fibula--the small bone of the leg was fractured. For ten days and nights the forests and swamps were his home, with pain, and dread, and anguish. When discovered, the barn was fired; before him a sea of flame ready to engulf him, beyond the grave a still greater sea of flame awaiting him; and at that instant he received his peculiar, his wonderful wound, which we have described. Could the end of such a life have been more appalling? Was there not in all, the hand of an overruling Providence.

July 4, 1865 UrSe,


 ARSH 38