Report of first doctor to reach shot Lincoln found
2012-06-07 0:00


The first doctor to reach President Abraham Lincoln after he was shot in a Washington theater rushed to the presidential box and found him paralyzed, comatose and leaning against his wife. Dr. Charles Leale ordered brandy and water to be brought immediately.

Lealeís long-lost report of his efforts to help the mortally wounded president, written just hours after his death, was discovered in a box at the National Archives late last month.

The doctor, who sat 40 feet from Lincoln at Fordís Theater that night in April 1865, saw John Wilkes Booth jump to the stage, brandishing a dagger, and heard the cry that the "President has been murdered" before pushing his way through the crowd. Thinking Lincoln had been stabbed, Leale ordered men to cut off the presidentís coat.

"I commenced to examine his head (as no wound near the shoulder was found) and soon passed my fingers over a large firm clot of blood situated about one inch below the superior curved line of the occipital bone," Leale reported. "The coagula I easily removed and passed the little finger of my left hand through the perfectly smooth opening made by the ball, and found that it had entered the encephalon."

The historians who discovered the report believe it was filed, packed in a box, stored at the archives and not seen for 147 years.


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