Killing Lincoln is a riveting summary of the last days of a man who believed that he was about to die at the hands of assassins. The narrative is a chilling timeline profiling John Wilkes Booth as he contemplates kidnapping the President before settling on outright murder. Ford’s Theatre becomes the venue of choice. General Ulysses S. Grant and his wife, Julia, were also invited to attend a performance of Our American Cousin that fatal evening but begged off. Lincoln is shot from behind by Booth who leaps over the railing, catching a spur on the folds of a United States flag, breaking a bone in his lower left leg.
Booth escapes to Maryland on horseback and hides out at the farm of Doctor Samuel Mudd, a Confederate sympathizer. Pouring over newspapers, Booth is stunned to discover that his “accomplishment” is being heralded as the act of a Brutus rather than that of an avenging angel. Fantasizing escape and rewards, he believes he can make it to Kentucky and thereafter escape the United States.
After crossing the Rappahannock River into Virginia, Booth, and co-conspirator David Herold, find shelter on the farm of Richard Garrett as twenty-five members of the Sixteenth New York Cavalry continue the search. The soldiers approach a barn on the farm and find both Booth and Herold. Herold surrenders but Booth puts up a fight as the barn is set on fire. As Booth hefts his carbine to fire upon Lieutenant Luther, he is shot in the neck by Sergeant Boston Corbett, but does not die until the next morning.
A trial quickly commences. In just three days, Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, George Atzerodt, and David Herold are sentenced to death by hanging. The other co-conspirators are sentenced to imprisonment at Fort Jefferson. Mary Surratt seeks a pardon from President Andrew Johnson but to no avail. “Please don’t let me fall,” she begs from her seat on the gallows. The trapdoor swings open and she drops to her death like the others … but the story will never die.