Ever wonder what happened to the other guy injured the night of Lincoln's assassination? Here, then, is,

The Tragedy of Major Rathbone

(from "GHOSTS: Washington's most famous ghost stories," by John Alexander)

Major Rathbone was a brilliant and successful young officer when he moved into Number 8 Jackson Place. At that time he was hopeful of making New York Senator Harris's daughter Clara his wife. It was Miss Harris who accompanied the Major the night he went with President and Mrs. Lincoln to see "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theatre. Major Rathbone was stabbed in the head and neck by John Wilkes Booth before the assassin made good his escape by jumping onto the stage from the presidential box.

Although seriously wounded, Major Rathbone responded to treatment and physically recovered from his wounds, but his mind was never quite the same. He was distracted, moody. He and Clara Harris were eventually married, and his wife accepted his moods, thinking that some day he would again become the man she used to know. Perhaps that is why she agreed to move with him to Germany.

Hoping to escape his recurring depression, the Major resigned his commission and with his wife set out for Hanover. Another country and another life, however, proved no panacea. He became more despondent. As his wife and children prepared for the coming Christmas holidays, Rathbone seemed to lose touch with reality altogether. He took a gun, shot his wife to death, and would have killed his children if a nurse had not intervened. He then shot himself. Whether or not Rathbone was reliving that struggle some eighteen years earlier with John Wilkes Booth is only conjecture.

Doctors were able to save what was left of the life of Henry Rathbone, but he spent the rest of his days in an insane asylum far from his former home on Lafayette Square. The news of the Rathbone tragedy quickly reached Washington. Some of his former neighbors wept at the misfortune, but as they walked along Jackson Place they often took their children by the hand and crossed over into the park rather than walk directly in front of the old Rathbone house. They seemed to be afraid the web of fate that had entangled so many victims of the Lincoln assassination might still hang in the air around the house of the unfortunate Major. A few expressed fear that his deranged spirit would cross the ocean, while others contended it already had. They whispered of hearing a man crying. Tales spun over backyard fences or on porches at night told of heartbreaking sobs drifting from the old home where, for a few brief years Rathbone had known success, joy and happiness.