When President Lincoln and his wife Mary visited Washington’s army hospitals, he would joked with the wounded soldiers while she distributed homemade jams and flowers from the Executive Mansion gardens.
One of President Lincoln’s favorite moves to cheer the troops was to challenge them to a height contest. He’d stand back-to-back with any soldier who thought he might be taller than the 6 foot, 4 inch president.
He never found a soldier that tall, but there was one man in Washington, D.C., who was definitely taller than Mr. Lincoln. Maj. Joseph Stewart was 6- foot, 6-inches tall.
Stewart, who was sitting in the audience at Ford’s Theatre when John Wilkes Booth jumped to the stage after shooting the president, was one of the first theatergoers to realize what had happened. With his long legs, he was able to jump onto the stage and chase the assassin, but he was unable to catch him. He watched from the stage door as Booth rode down Baptist Alley to freedom.