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The Bullet that Killed Lincoln

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

On July 22, 2017 we traveled to Silver Spring, Maryland and one of our stops was the National Museum of Health and Medicine. There were several reasons for this stop; however, one of the main reasons was to see the actual bullet that killed President Abraham Lincoln.

During the autopsy of Abraham Lincoln in the White House, they first could not find the actual bullet until they removed the brain and it fell out into a basis making a metal clanking sound as it hit the basic sitting below. The size of the bullet that changed history was no bigger than the size of the tip of a Dr.'s finger.

That is right, this artifact still remains in a museum... a Free museum at that. The National Museum of Health and Medicine houses many artifacts that were preserved since the Civil War, and from military medical treatments which is why this museum houses artifacts from Abraham Lincoln's autopsy.

On April 14, 1865, the assassin John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln during a performance at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC. After the President passed away on the following morning, his body was placed in a temporary coffin covered with an American flag, and returned by hearse to the White House, accompanied by a cavalry escort. At the White House, an autopsy was performed by Army Surgeons Edward Curtis and Joseph Janvier Woodward. Also in attendance were Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes and a few military officers, medical men and friends. During the autopsy Mary Todd Lincoln sent a messenger to request a lock of hair; a tuft was clipped from the head for her. You can read more about the autopsy reports here.

A clipping of President Abraham Lincoln's Hair

The path of the bullet through the President's Brain

It was amazing to see these artifacts in person. Just to know that these still exist is amazing to us. There are so many times when items of historical importance either come up missing or are destroyed accidently and these items are in a very safe placed housed in a national museum.

If you would like to see more photos from this museum visit, click on the "More Photos" button below:

Please let us know down in the comments if you have been to this museum before, or if you plan on visiting the next time you are in the Washington, D.C. area.

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