From a distinguished officer in the army, who was sitting near the President’s box at the time of the assassination, we have received the following interesting statement:-
Account of a Distinguished Eye-Witness.
On the night of Friday, April 14th, 1865, in company with a friend, I went to Ford’s Theater, arriving there just after the entrance of President Lincoln and the party accompanying him. My friend and I, after viewing the Presidential party from the opposite side of the dress circle, went to the right side and took seats in the passage above the seats of the dress circle and about five feet from the door of the box. During the performance the attendant of the President came out and took the chair nearest the door.”…
“…The house was still, the large audience listening to the dialogue between “Florence Trenchard” and “May Meredith,” when the sharp report of a pistol rang through the house. It was apparently fired behind the scenes upon the right of the stage and behind the President’s box. While it startled everyone, yet it was evidently accepted by everyone as an introduction to some new passage several of which had been introduced in the early part of the play. A moment after, a man leaped from off the box directly down, nine feet, on the stage, and ran rapidly across, bareheaded, and holding an unsheathed dagger in his right hand, the blade of which flashed brightly as he came within ten feet of the opposite exit.
In the gaslight, I did not see his face as he leaped or ran, but I am confident that he was the man I saw enter. As he leaped he cried distinctly and aloud the motto of the State of Virginia-“Sic simper tyrannis.”
Citation: Philadelphia Inquirer. Philadelphia, 17 April 1865. AN .P5546