Killing Lincoln (2013)



Director:     Adrian Moat.

Starring:     Tom Hanks (Himself - Narrator), Regen Wilson (Peter Taltavul), Billy Campbell (Abraham Lincoln), Jesse Johnson (John Wilkes Booth), Geraldine Hughes (Mary Todd Lincoln), Graham Beckel (Edwin Stanton), Shawn Pyfrom (Private John W. Nichols), Greg Cooper (Alexander Gardner), Andrew Collie (James McCollom), Jeremy Ambler (George Robinson), Joe Inscoe (Doctor May), Benjamin Perkinson (Tad Lincoln), Logan Bennett (John McCullough), Geoffrey Culbertson (Honor Guard Soldier), Leiv Clegg (Proud Slave).

assassination of Lincoln


Spoiler Warning:


Herndon Boarding House, Washington City, 13 April 1865.

"On the evening of April 13th, 1865 John Wilkes Booth initiates his plan not only to kill Abraham Lincoln, but to decapitate the government of the United States.  A civil war that has lasted four years is drawing to an end.  While Washington City celebrates the surrender of Robert E. Lee's Confederate army, Booth and his co-conspirators plot a carefully coordinated triple murder." 

With Booth is Lewis Powell (also known as Lewis Payne or Paine), who has the job of killing the Secretary of State William Seward; David Herold, who will accompany Booth on the escape attempt; George Atzerodt, who has the assignment of killing Vice-president Andrew Johnson.  Atzerodt, however, tells Booth that he cannot kill Johnson. 

Eight months earlier, August 1864.  Lincoln is riding from the War Department to the Soldiers' Home where the family stays during the hot summer months.  Lincoln hears a gun shot.  The shot misses Lincoln.  Private Nichols grabs Lincoln's horse and helps calm the horse.  Lincoln thanks the young soldier.  Private Nichols finds Lincoln's hat and brings it to him. The bullet went through the top of the hat.  Lincoln asks the lad not to tell anyone about what happened. 

Home of Asia Booth, 1020 Race Street, Philadelphia.  October, 1864.  Booth contacts the Confederate Secret Service.  He has a plan to kidnap President Lincoln.  He goes to Philadelphia to see his sister, named Asia.  He writes a lot of letters and tells his sister to put them in her safe.  If anything should happen to him, she is to open the envelope and send the letters as directed.  They are for brother Junius and sister Rosalie and another one to To Whom It May Concern. 

Gardner's Gallery, Washington City, 5 February 1865.  Lincoln visits Alexander Gardner's photographic studios.  This will be the last official portrait of Lincoln.  He has just six weeks to live. 

Lincoln's second Inaugural Address, Washington City, 4 March 1865.  Booth is there on the steps of the East Portico. 

March 17, 1865.  Booth and his henchmen lay in wait along the route to visit the Campbell Military Hospital.  But Lincoln changes his mind and goes elsewhere. 

Booth travels to New York.  There he learns of a Confederate plot to kill the president by planting explosives in the White House. 

Steamship River Queen.  2 April 1865.  Lincoln awakens from a nightmare about his own death.

City Point, Virginia,  Headquarters of the Union Army.  Lincoln is to visit the war front where General Ulysses S. Grant is about to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia.  Lincoln has 13 days left to live. 

Rocketts Landing, Richmond, Virginia. 3 April 1865.  The Confederates start burning Richmond before the departure of their troops from the city.  Lincoln arrives to see the devastated city. 

4 April 1865.  Lincoln and his son Tad visit the White House of the Confederacy in Richmond.  Gen. Weitzel is on his way to see Lincoln. He goes into sit at Jefferson Davis' desk.  Lincoln has less than 11 days to live.  Meanwhile, in New York Booth finds out about the plot to blow up the White House. Sgt. Thomas Harney, an explosives expert with the Confederate Torpedo Bureau, is already in Virginia with Colonel Mosby. 

William Seward and his son get in a carriage accident in Washington.  On 9 April l865 the president stops by to see Seward.  The man's jaw is broken in two places and his right arm is fractured.  Lincoln talks to Steward about his walking the streets of Richmond, now back in the Union.  April 9th was also the day Robert E. Lee surrendered his army to Grant. 

Benjamin Barker's Pistol Gallery, 11th and Pennsylvania Avenue, 10 April 1865.  Five blocks from the White House, Booth is taking target practice. 

11 April 1865.  The White House.  Lincoln speaks to the crowd from the north portico of the White House.  Booth is there.  Lincoln has less than four days to live.

13 April 1865.  Booth visits Grover's Theatre.  He learns that the president will be coming there on April 14.  Booth speaks to his co-conspirators and informs them that the plan now is not to kidnap, but to assassinate the three government men. 

14 April 1865.  2 a.m.. 

Lincoln rises at 7 a.m.  He has less than 24 hours to live.  There will be a cabinet meeting at 11 a.m.  Robert Lincoln has just returned from seeing the surrender of General Lee to General Grant.

At the War Department, Lincoln sees Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, who tells Lincoln that rumors of assassination plots are everywhere now. 

11 a.m. cabinet meeting.  Lincoln talks about bring stability and reconstruction for the South. 

Booth comes to Ford's Theatre to pick up his mail.  There he learns that the president will be coming to Ford's Theatre this evening.  So Booth now has to change his plans.  He goes to Pumprey's stable to reserve a horse.  Then he writes a letter that is a confession and an explanation.

Lincoln and his wife take a carriage ride.  Lincoln is in a good mood today.  They end up at the Washington Navy Yard.  Lincoln summons naval officer William H. Flood.  3:30 p.m.  Flood takes Lincoln and his wife on a ship that has seen the most battle  -- the Montauk

The Grants pass by Booth in their carriage on their way to the railway station.  Latter they remember the man who looked intently into their carriage twice. 

Ford's Theatre.  8:30 p.m.  The Lincolns come into the theatre and are greeted with a standing ovation from the crowd.  On this night John Parker is on duty to protect the president.  The couple with the president is Mary's friend, Clara Harris, and her fiancÚ, Major Henry Reed Rathbone.

Booth meets with his co-conspirators.  Then Booth goes to Ford's Theatre.  9:20 p.m.  Booth gets his horse from the stable.  He then goes into the theatre through the back door.  He goes next door to Peter Taltavul's Star Saloon. 

Eight block away.  Home of Secretary of State William Seward. 10:15 p.m.  Lewis Payne knocks on the door and goes inside to give some medicine from the doctor to Seward.  The black butler tells him he can take the medicine, but Payne just starts walking up the steps to the second floor.  Seward's adult son, Frederick, tries to stop the man from disturbing his father.  Lewis Payne won't be stopped.  He turns around as if to leave, but pulls out his pistol and pulls the trigger when the pistol barrel is up against Frederick's head.  The pistol doesn't fire.  So Payne hits Frederick over the head. 

Booth opens the door to the Lincoln box seats. 

Payne pulls out a long knife and enters Seward's room.  He knocks out the doctor and ignores the screaming mother.  He starts to stab Seward in his bed over and over again. 

Booth enters the box seats area and fires his derringer into the back of the head of the president.  Rathbone tries to grab Booth, but Booth stabs the man with his knife.  He jumps from the box seats to the stage below and then he shouts "Sic semper tyrannis" (thus always to tyrants). Booth goes out through the back door, gets on his horse and rides away.  Everyone starts going crazy.  The doctor checks Lincoln out.  People start leaving the theatre.  Mary is very distraught. 

10:35 p.m.  Booth arrives at the Navy Yard Bridge, his escape route into Maryland.  No one is supposed to cross the bridge after 9 p.m. but the young sentry decides to let the stranger cross the bridge. 

Lincoln is carried across the street to be put in a bed there in a boarding house. 

David Herold flees the scene of the assassination attempt by Lewis Payne.  Herold now gets permission to cross over the bridge.  He catches up with Booth at Soper's Hill. 

Surratt Tavern, Maryland.  15 April 1865.  12:15 a,.m..  Weapons have been stored in the tavern.  Booth and Herold get their weapons and then they take off.   

Petersen Boarding House, 516 10th Street, Washington City.  Stanton takes statements from witnesses in one of the rooms of the boarding house.  An actor in the play says he thinks it was John Wilkes Booth that shot Lincoln. 

4:30 a.m.  April 15.  Booth and Herold arrive at Dr. Mudd's place.  Booth has broken his fibula  four centimeters above the instep of his left foot. 

Lincoln is dying.  Mrs. Lincoln comes to talk to him.  At 7:21 p.m. Lincoln draws his last breath.  Stanton says:  "Now. . . he belongs to the ages."

In the later afternoon, Booth leaves Samuel Mudd's home.  He goes to the home of Samuel Cox in Maryland, 16 April 1865, 1 a.m. Easter Sunday.  When Cox sees Booth's face, he says:  "You're John Wilkes Booth.  I think I know what you have done."  Cox will not harbor Booth in his house, but he promises to arrange a smuggler to get Booth into Virginia.  They are told to wait in a pine thicket just across the line from Cox's property.  They will wait there for five days and four nights.  John Wilkes Booth has ten days to live.

April 17thl Col. Lafayette Baker, the head of the National Detective Police, asks Alexander Gardner to make copies of three pictures attached to a wanted poster.  Payne and Mary Surratt are arrested.  George Atzerodt never attempted to kill Vice-president Johnson.  He is arrested hiding out in his cousin's home in Germantown, Maryland. 

In the pine thicket, Booth reads in the newspaper about the bloody, but not successful, attack on the Secretary of State Seward.

Night of April 20.  Thomas Jones leads the assassins to a boat.   Booth has less the six days to live. 

April 21st.  Lincoln's body leaves Washington by train to Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois. 

April 23rd.  Booth and Herold finally cross the Potomac and land in Virginia. 

April 24th.  Booth and Herold arrive at the home of Richard Garrett.  The family takes them in.  Booth hear that the Union cavalry is coming to the farm tonight.  Booth and Herold hide in the woods.  When they return to the farm, they are not allowed to sleep in the house.  They have to sleep in a tobacco barn. 

April 26 1865.  2:30 a.m.  The tobacco barn is surrounded by 26 members of the 16th New York Cavalry under the command of Lt. Edward Doherty.  An 18 year old Confederate soldier tells the cavalry where Booth is hiding.  His name is William Jett. 

Booth lets Herold surrender.  The barn starts burning.  Booth is shot and goes down.  The cavalry pull him out of the barn.  Booth says:  "Tell my mother that I died for my country."  He has been shot in the neck by Sgt. Boston Corbett. 

Booth now has only hours to live.  Booth is paralyzed from the neck down.  He asks to see his hands.  They show him his hands and he comments:  "Useless. . . . Useless."  He dies. 

July 7th, 1865.  1:26 p.m.  Four people are hanged in connection with the Lincoln murder.  Their names are Powell, Atzerodt, Herold and Mary Surratt. 

Jefferson Davis said:  "Next to the destruction of the Confederacy, the death of Abraham Lincoln was the darkest day the South has ever known."


I don't much care for writer Bill O'Reilly, but the movie is good.  It gives you a more detailed timeline for the events surrounding the Booth conspiracy to commit three murders.  I felt I had a better understanding of just what was going on in the last days of Lincoln.  I recommend the movie.  It certainly kept my interest. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 


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