Shortly after the assassination, Dr. Charles Taft wrote this description of the first seconds after John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln:

“While sitting in an orchestra chair at Ford’s Theatre, on Friday evening, the 14th, about 10:30 p.m., I heard the sharp report of a pistol in the direction of the state box, and, turning my head in that direction, saw a wild looking man jump from the box to the stage, heard him shout “Sic semper tyrannis,” as he brandished a glittering knife in his right hand for an instant, and dart across the stage from sight.

“A few moments of utterly indescribable confusion followed, amid which I heard a call for a surgeon. I leaped upon the stage, and was instantly lifted by a dozen pair of hands up to the President’s box, a distance of 12 feet from the stage.