April 14, 1865. A famous actor pulls a trigger in the presidential balcony, leaps to the stage, and escapes, as the president lies fatally wounded. In the panic that follows, forty-six terrified people scatter in and around Ford's Theater as soldiers take up stations by the doors and the audience surges into the streets chanting, "Burn the place down!"
This is the untold story of Lincoln's assassination: the forty-six stage hands, actors, and theater workers on hand for the bewildering events in the theater that night, and what each of them witnessed in the chaos-streaked hours before John Wilkes Booth was discovered to be the culprit. In Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination, historian Thomas A. Bogar delves into previously unpublished sources to tell the story of Lincoln's assassination from behind the curtain, and the tale is shocking. Police rounded up and arrested dozens of innocent people, wasting time that allowed the real culprit to get further away. Some closely connected to John Wilkes Booth were not even questioned, while innocent witnesses were relentlessly pursued. Booth was more connected with the production than you might have known-learn how he knew each member of the cast and crew, which was a hotbed of secessionist resentment. Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination also tells the story of what happened to each of these witnesses to history after the investigation was over-how each one lived their lives after seeing one of America's greatest presidents shot dead without warning.