April 14, 1865. My husband's grandmother was at the Williard Hotel in Washington with her parents, she was 8 years old. She saw the turmoil in the street below their hotel window, the men running around with torches shouting "The Presiden'ts been shot!"
Lincoln's plan was to "let 'em up easy," re-establish civil government, and bring the seceded states back into the Union. He probably would have had some terrible struggles with the Radical Republicans, on two questions. What to do about the freedmen and how to curb retribution and vengeance.
Booth's bullet harmed the South more than all the Union generals combined. Some hero, huh? Fiery Confederate patriot. So how come he wasn't in uniform?
John Wilkes Booth in the 1850s was a member of the militia in Virginia. He was in uniform witnessing the hanging of John Brown in 1859, which was an event that gave him considerable satisfaction.
By 1860, he was one of the best known actors in the country, making over $20,000. per year. That was an immense sum in those days. One can understand why he didn't want to give that up. His sympathies, however, were well known. In 1862, he was arrested in St. Louis for making anti-government remarks.
He only put on the uniform to go see the hanging according to Blood on the Moon.
Sidebar I taught with a man my first year of teaching that looked so much like Booth it was scary. One day our jokester teacher made a wanted poster using Keith's picture and Booths side by side asking if this could be the same man. Keith didn't find it funny but the rest of us were amazed at the likeness.
From the National Parks service website for Ford's Theatre :
Booth briefly left the Richmond Theatre Company in 1859. He joined the Richmond Grays, gaining his only official military experience. He enlisted on November 20, 1859 with the sole intention of witnessing the December hanging of the fiery abolitionist John Brown in Charles Town, Virginia. Soon after witnessing Brown's hanging, Booth left for Richmond where he was discharged.