John Deery wrote to a letter to his sister on April 17, 1865, telling her that a gloom and horror such as he never imagined before had settled over Washington following the president’s death.

Deery described what he saw from his seat at Ford’s Theatre after the shot sounded:

“The murderer rushed across the stage in the direction of my seat,” he wrote. “If I had a pistol, I could have shot him dead. I am only sorry that I had not.”

(Source: Ford’s Theatre files)