The Death Heard Around the Country

Madden Baldwin, Guest Writer

“Tickets please.” Clay and I, Tate Heck, handed our tickets to the Ticketmaster, eagerly waiting to see the famous play “Our American Cousin”, inside the famous, Fords Theater.

“Hey, Clay, I’m gonna go drink some whiskey really quick across the road at Stars Saloon. Wanna join me?” I asked.

“Nah. I’m alright. You better hurry though, the play is about to start, and President Lincoln has arrived!” responded Clay.

Being 25, I am able to drink some of the finest whiskey imagined. Star Saloon is very well know and very crowded, seeing that it’s  right at the center of town, and across the street from Fords Theater. As I push open the doors, a strange man brushes past me, looking drunk and stressed. I didn’t think anything of it, and enjoyed my glass of whiskey. Not wanting to get too loopy before the play, I ran back inside the theater, relieved that the play had not begun.

“Can you believe the President is here?” Clay asked me.

“I know! I can’t believe we are in the same building as our American hero, the one who just ended the dreaded war!”



Finally the curtains opened, and ”Our American Cousin” begins. Not long through the show, my favorite part was about to happen. I had seen the play multiple times, and had memorized where my favorite parts were. The character playing Harry Hawk would say,”You sockdologizing old man-trap,” and everyone will burst into laughter. Just as I had predicted, Asa Trenchard, playing Harry Hawk, said the famously funny line, and everyone, including Clay and I, burst into tears of laughter. However, through the laughter, something seemed off.

“Clay, doesn’t  something seem off to you? Do you hear something in the background that’s not part of the play?”

All of a sudden, a man jumps down from the state box where the President is seated, and says,”Sic Semper tyrannies!” I recognized him as the man that bumped me on my way into the saloon. Suddenly, someone screamed from the state box,” Stop that man! He has shot the President!” I witnessed as people cried out in fear and scrambled for the nearest exit.

“Clay, you alright?”

“Yeah, but Tate, what’s going on?”

“The President has just been shot!”


Today is April 22, 1865, and Clay and I have been secretly following the man who shot Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth, for over a week.

“Clay, did you read the sign that was posted right before we left D.C.?”

“No, what’d it say?”

“If we can keep on John’s tail, and his sidekick David Herold, we can make up to $75,000!”

During our conversation, John had started on the move again, this time heading up river towards the Garrett Farm in Virginia. While trailing John for multiple days, Clay and I suspected that he has reached he’s destination, after not leaving the Garrett House for a while. Clay and I searched around the area for people to help us capture and bring John and David to justice. Just when we are about to give up hope, help arrives.

“Hey Clay, do you hear that?”

“Yeah I do. Sounds like a Calvary!”

“You there! What are you doing out here in the plains of Virginia?” exclaimed one of the officers on a horse.

“We are trailing John Wilkes Booth, and have traced him to the Garrett residence!” answered Clay.

“Dear God, that is the man we are looking for! Gentlemen, lead us the way!”

The officer and the Sixteenth New York Calvary followed Clay and I up the road to the Garrett House.

“I think he’s in the barn, but I’m not very sure. He could be in the house sleeping still,” I tell the commanding general.

“Thank you, sir. We will check the barn after you go into the house and see if he’s in there.”

After my conversation with the general, Clay and I headed inside the house and looked inside every room for the two murderers. No one was inside the house which meant that they are inside the barn.

“No one is inside the house, Sir. We scavenged every room and every corner of the building!” exclaimed Clay.

“Alright. Men, check the barn for Booth and Harold!”

At that moment, soldiers walked up to the barn and attempted to open the door. The door wouldn’t open for John Garrett, the owner of the Garret Farm, locked the doors, trapping them inside. Clay and I thought for sure that Booth and Harold would give themselves up.

“John Wilkes Booth and David Herold. This is Lieutenant Baker of the Sixteenth New York Calvary, come out now!”

“No! I’d rather die then surrender to you Yanks!”

“So be it. Men, burn the barn to the ground with John inside of it!”

John is still refusing to surrender, and is barking at the soldiers to to come into the barn so that they may have a fair fight.

“One more stain on the old banner!”, cries John.

All of a sudden, a crack of a rifle fires into barn, and John falls over, dead. Soldiers rushed in to see if John was still alive, and dragged him out of the barn, but it was too late.


“Due to your signs of bravery, heroism, and persistence, I honor you, Clay and Tate, with the $75,000 prize for helping of the capture and death of John Wilkes Booth, and for the capture of David Herold.”said Andrew Johnson.

Clay and I shook Andrew Johnson’s hand, the new president who was sworn into office immediately after Lincoln’s passing. We are labeled as war heroes from the President himself, and recognized in front of a horde of people. Clay and I will never be the same, and will always do what it takes to protect and seek revenge for the horrible things that happen to this country.