Ok, so I was looking at one of my Civil War ghost story books looking for ideas for the Hauntings thread (hey, it's Halloween) and I came across something I didn't know. Major Henry Rathbone murdered his wife in 1883. Supposedly according to Daniel Cohen's Civil War Ghosts he also would have tried murdering their children only to be stopped by their made. He then attempted suicide, which he failed at. When the police arrived Rathbone was ranting about people hiding behind pictures in the wall. He was committed to an asylum for the criminally insane and died there in 1911.
And it wasn't only Major Rathbone that seems to have gone insane. What about the first lady herself? There are historians and physiologists today who argue Mary Todd Lincoln may have been show signs of bipolar disorder all her adult life. I'd argue that any signs of insanity may have begun before the assassination following the deaths of Eddie and Willie. Certainly we may think today of how she became after Lincoln's death and may say she was insane. It could be argued that as long as she had both Robert and Tad she was largely able to keep in some kind of non-institutional form (I do want to say I remember something that speaks contrary to this argument about her not wanting to leave the White House and even trying to stay in White House closets so she couldn't be removed). They moved to Chicago, but Robert soon moved out. Then in 1871 Tad died. Following Tad's death she really seems to have become unhinged. She would claim someone attempted to poison her, that her purse was stolen by a wandering Jew, walk around Chicago with $56,000 in government bonds in her petticoats, come close to jumping out a window to escape a fire that no one else knew a thing about. Robert had her institutionalized at Bellevue Place in Batavia where she would remain for three months before bad press and questions of his real motives forced him to declare she was well enough to live with her sister in Springfield, Illinois. However, one must wonder if he wasn't right as she became so upset by the whole case that she tried overdosing on laudanum, it was only because the pharmacist supposedly realized what she was attending and issuing her a placebo that this suicide attempt failed.
What about other's in the box that night? Not just those in the box when Booth assassinated Lincoln but also those that entered the box after the assassination that night.
From what I've read, Major Rathbone might have been debilitated from his years in the Army before the night of the assassination.
I've also read that General and Mrs. Grant were invited to join the Lincolns to view the play, but the Grants declined. It seems that Julia Grant despised Mary Lincoln (Perhaps for calling General Grant : "a butcher.").
If the Grants had attended, then John Wilkes Booth might have effected American History even more profoundly if he had stabbed General Grant as he did Major Rathbone.
I have attempted unsuccessfully to post a link to an excellent article about Henry Rathbone that was published in the WASHINTON POST in 2009. The title of the article is: "A Tragedy's Second Act."
It seems that I am unable to post any links on CWi at the moment. I don't know if the problem lies with my computer or the website.
I knew the Grants were supposed to attend and at the last minute bowed out. I seem to recall reading somewhere that Julia Grant had had a preminission and convinced him they shouldn't attend.
But I do find the deal with Major Rathbone and Mary Todd Lincoln an interesting coincidence. Both are for a time committed to an insane asylum/sanitarium. Both tried and failed to commit suicide. Both were in the box the night Lincoln died, of course both were in the box at the moment Booth shot him. Of course Rathbone's fiancée and future wife was there with them and she was killed by her husband almost twenty years later. I'd be interested to learn if other's in the box that night also were committed, at least for a month, to an insane asylum/sanitarium in the years following Lincoln's death, or if they even attempted to commit suicide. I don't mean just those there at the moment Booth shot Lincoln, but everyone that entered the box that night following the shooting. If you had a number of folks that fit that description, what would that mean?