First Doctor to Reach Lincoln Found Him Comatose

He ordered brandy be brought to the president, who had just been shot
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 5, 2012 8:05 PM CDT
This Nov. 8, 1863, photo shows President Abraham Lincoln.   (AP Photo/Alexander Gardner, File)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – The first doctor to reach 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 to the president immediately. Leale's long-lost report of his efforts to help the mortally wounded president was discovered in a box at the National Archives late last month.

The doctor, who sat 40 feet from Lincoln at Ford's 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 president's 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." (Read more Abraham Lincoln stories.)

My Take on This Story
Show results without voting  |