Lincoln's Last Days: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever

Lincoln's Last Days: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever

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Lincoln's Last Days is a gripping account of one of the most dramatic nights in American history—of how one gunshot changed the country forever. Adapted from Bill O'Reilly's bestselling historical thriller, Killing Lincoln, this book will have young readers—and grown-ups too—hooked on history.

In the spring of 1865, President Abraham Lincoln travels through Washington, D.C., after finally winning America's bloody Civil War. In the midst of celebrations, Lincoln is assassinated at Ford's Theatre by a famous actor named John Wilkes Booth. What follows is a thrilling chase, ending with a fiery shoot-out and swift justice for the perpetrators.

With an unforgettable cast of characters, page-turning action, vivid detail, and art on every spread, Lincoln's Last Days is history that reads like a thriller. This is a very special book, irresistible on its own or as a compelling companion to Killing Lincoln.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805096767
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date: 08/21/2012
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 216,883
Lexile: 1020L (what's this?)
File size: 19 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.
Age Range: 10 - 14 Years

About the Author

Bill O'Reilly's success in broadcasting and publishing is unmatched. The iconic anchor of The O'Reilly Factor led the program to the status of the highest rated cable news broadcast in the nation for sixteen consecutive years. His website is followed by millions all over the world.

In addition, he has authored an astonishing 12 number one ranked non-fiction books including the historical "Killing" series. Mr. O'Reilly currently has 17 million books in print.

Bill O'Reilly has been a broadcaster for 42 years. He has been awarded three Emmy's and a number of other journalism accolades. He was a national correspondent for CBS News and ABC News as well as a reporter-anchor for WCBS-TV in New York City among other high profile jobs.

Mr. O'Reilly received two other Emmy nominations for the movies "Killing Kennedy" and "Killing Jesus."

He holds a history degree from Marist College, a masters degree in Broadcast Journalism from Boston University, and another masters degree from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Bill O'Reilly lives on Long Island where he was raised. His philanthropic enterprises have raised tens of millions for people in need and wounded American veterans.

Dwight Jon Zimmerman has adapted books for young readers by distinguished authors such as Dee Brown and James McPherson. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Bill O'Reilly is a trailblazing TV journalist who has experienced unprecedented success on cable news and in writing fifteen national number-one bestselling nonfiction books. There are currently more than 17 million books in the Killing series in print. He lives on Long Island.
DWIGHT JON ZIMMERMAN has written extensively on military-history subjects for American Heritage, the Naval Institute Press, Vietnam Magazine, and numerous military-themed publications. His books include The Hammer and the Anvil and The Vietnam War: A Graphic History. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Read an Excerpt

Lincoln's Last Days

The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever

By Bill O'Reilly, Dwight Jon Zimmerman

Henry Holt and Company

Copyright © 2012 Bill O'Reilly
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9676-7


SUNDAY, APRIL 2, 1865 Petersburg, Virginia

There is no North Versus South in Petersburg now. Only Grant versus Lee — and Grant has the upper hand. Like many of the generals on both sides, Lee and Grant served together in the Mexican War. Now, in the Civil War, these former comrades-in-arms are enemies.

Lee is fifty-eight years old, a tall, rugged Virginian with a silver beard and formal air. Grant is forty-two and Lee's exact opposite: dark-haired and sloppy in dress, a small, introspective man who has a fondness for cigars and a close relationship with horses. When Grant was a baby, his mother's friends were shocked to see that Hannah Grant allowed her son to crawl between their horses' feet!

Like Lee, Grant possesses a genius for warfare — indeed, he is capable of little else. When the Civil War began, he was a washed-up, barely employed West Point graduate and veteran of the Mexican War who had been forced out of military service, done in by lonely western outposts and an inability to hold his liquor. It was only through luck and connections that Grant secured a commission in an Illinois regiment. At the battles of Fort Henry and Fort Donelson in Tennessee in February 1862, Grant and his army delivered the first major victories to the Union. And Grant kept on winning. As the war continued, Lincoln gave him more and more responsibility. Now Grant is general in chief — the commander of all the Union armies from Virginia down to New Orleans.

At Petersburg, the Confederate lines are arranged in a jagged horseshoe, facing south — thirty-seven miles of trenches and fortifications in all. The outer edges of the horseshoe are two miles from the city center, under the commands of Confederate A. P. Hill on the right and John B. Gordon on the left.

* * *

The day before, at the decisive Battle of Five Forks, Union General Phil Sheridan and 45,000 men had captured a pivotal crossing, cutting off the main road to North Carolina.

It was long after dark when word of the great victory reached Grant. Without pausing, Grant pushed his advantage. He ordered another attack. He hoped this would be the blow to crush Lee and his army once and for all. His soldiers would attack just before dawn, but he ordered the artillery fire to begin immediately.

* * *

The Union attack is divided into two waves. Major General Horatio Wright, leading the 24,000 men in his Sixth Corps, charges first and shatters the right side of Lee's line. Wright's attack is so well choreographed that many of his soldiers are literally miles in front of the main Union force. As Wright's men reorganize to prepare for the next stage of attack, the rest of the Union army strikes.

Meanwhile, Lee and his assistants, the generals James "Pete" Longstreet and A. P. Hill, gaze out at Wright's army from the front porch of Lee's Confederate headquarters, the Turnbull house. The three of them stand there as the sun rises high enough to confirm their worst fears: every soldier they can see wears blue.

A horrified A. P. Hill realizes that his army is being crushed, and he jumps on his horse to try to stop the disaster in the making. He is shot and killed by Union soldiers.

Lee faces the sobering fact that Union soldiers are just a few short steps from controlling the main road he plans to use for his retreat. He will be cut off if the bluecoats in the pasture continue their advance.

Fortune, however, is smiling on the Confederates. Those Union soldiers have no idea that Lee himself is right in front of them. If they did, they would attack without ceasing, because any soldier who captured Lee would become a legend.

The Union scouts can clearly see the small artillery battery outside Lee's headquarters, and they assume that it is part of a much larger rebel force hiding out of sight. Rather than rush forward, the scouts hesitate.

Seizing the moment, Lee escapes north across the Appomattox River and then turns west. His goal is the Richmond and Danville Railroad Line at Amelia Court House, where he has arranged to store food and supplies. He issues orders to the commanders of his corps to follow. At one point, Lee pauses to write a letter to Confederate president Jefferson Davis, saying that his army is in retreat and can no longer defend Richmond. Davis and the Confederate government must abandon the city or risk capture.

The final chase has begun.


MONDAY, APRIL 3, 1865Petersburg, Virginia

Lee's retreat is unruly and time-consuming, despite the sense of urgency. Grant watches the bridges — they are packed with Confederate soldiers. A cannon barrage could kill hundreds instantly, and Grant's cannons are certainly close enough to do the job. All he has to do is give the command.

But he hesitates.

For now, his plan is to capture the Confederates, not to kill them. Grant has already taken many prisoners. He watches these rebels escape, scheming to find a way to capture even more.

Grant hands a courier the orders. Then he telegraphs President Lincoln. Earlier in the week, he had sent the president a message, asking him to come to City Point to witness the capture of Petersburg. Now, with Lee's army out of Petersburg and the Union army in control of the city, Grant asks the president to meet him there.

As soon as the Army of Northern Virginia began retreating from Petersburg, Grant had ordered part of his army to head north and capture Richmond. Now he hopes to hear about the battle for Richmond before the president arrives. Capturing Lee's army is of the utmost importance, but both Grant and Lincoln also believe that a Confederacy without a capital is a doomsday scenario for the rebels. Delivering the news that Richmond has fallen would be a delightful way to kick off their meeting.

The sound of horseshoes on cobblestones echoes down the quiet street. It's Lincoln. Stepping down from his horse, Lincoln walks through the main gate of the house Grant has chosen for their meeting. He takes the walkway in long, eager strides, a smile suddenly stretching across his face, his deep fatigue vanishing at the sight of his favorite general. When he shakes Grant's hand, it is with great gusto.

The two men sit on the veranda, taking no notice of the cold. Their conversation shows deep mutual respect. Lincoln and Grant talk for ninety minutes. Although Grant had hoped to receive word of Richmond's fall while he was with the president, too much time has passed. He must leave to join his army and continue the pursuit of Lee. President Lincoln and General Grant shake hands, then Grant gallops off to join the Army of the Potomac.

Before leaving, Lincoln also shakes hands with some people in the crowd gathered in front of the meeting place. He then rides back to City Point. The way is littered with hundreds of dead soldiers, their unburied bodies swollen by death and sometimes stripped bare by scavengers. Lincoln doesn't look away.

Upon his return to City Point, he receives the reward Grant had hoped to deliver personally. A courier hands the president a telegram informing him that Richmond has fallen.

"Thank God that I have lived to see this," Lincoln cries. "It seems to me that I have been dreaming a horrid dream for four years, and now the nightmare is gone."

But the nightmare's not really gone. President Lincoln has just twelve days to live.


TUESDAY, APRIL 4, 1865 Richmond, Virginia

Abraham Lincoln stands on the deck of the USS Malvern as the warship chugs slowly and cautiously up the James River toward Richmond. The channel is choked with burning warships and the floating corpses of horses. Deadly antiship mines known as torpedoes bob on the surface, drifting with the current, ready to explode the instant they come into contact with a vessel.

The Confederate capital is now in Union hands. Lincoln can clearly see that Richmond — or what's left of it — barely resembles the refined city it was. The sunken ships and torpedoes in the harbor tell only some of the story. Part of Richmond is gone, burned to the ground.

When it becomes too dangerous for the Malvern to get any closer, Lincoln is rowed to shore. Finally, he steps from the barge and up onto a landing.

What Lincoln sees now can only be described as shocking.

The Confederate attempt to destroy supplies and arms to keep them out of the approaching Union army's hands has escalated out of control. In a cruel irony, it was not the Union army that laid waste to the city. Richmond was destroyed by its own sons.

Richmond had still been in flames on the morning of April 3, when the Union troops arrived. Brick facades and chimneys still stood, but wooden frames and roofs had been incinerated. Smoldering ruins and the sporadic whistle of artillery greeted the Twenty-fourth and Twenty-fifth Corps of the Union army.

The instant the long blue line marched into town, the slaves of Richmond were free. They were stunned to see that the Twenty-fifth contained black soldiers from a new branch of the army known as the USCT — the United States Colored Troops.

Lieutenant Johnston Livingston de Peyster, a member of the staff of Twenty-fifth Corps commander Major General Godfrey Wetzel, galloped his horse straight to the capitol building. "I sprang from my horse," he wrote proudly, and "rushed up to the roof." In his hand was an American flag. Dashing to the flagpole, he hoisted the Stars and Stripes over Richmond. The city was Confederate no more.

That particular flag had thirty-six stars, a new number, because of Nevada's recent admission to the Union. By tradition, this new flag would not become official until the Fourth of July. It was the flag of the America to come — the postwar America, united and expanding. It was, in other words, the flag of Abraham Lincoln's dreams.


TUESDAY, APRIL 4, 1865 Richmond, Virginia

Abraham Lincoln has never fought in battle. In his short three-month enlistment during the Black Hawk War in 1832, he never saw combat. He is a politician, and politicians are seldom given the chance to play the role of conquering hero. But this is Lincoln's war. It always has been. To Lincoln goes the honor of conquering hero.

No one knows this better than the freed slaves of Richmond. They gather around Lincoln, so alarming the men who rowed him ashore that they form a protective ring around the president. The sailors maintain this ring around Lincoln as he marches through the city, even as the admiring crowd grows to hundreds.

The white citizens of Richmond, tight-lipped and hollow-eyed, take it all in. They make no move, no gesture, no sound to welcome him. "Every window was crowded with heads," one sailor will remember. "But it was a silent crowd. There was something oppressive in those thousands of watchers without a sound, either of welcome or hatred. I think we would have welcomed a yell of defiance."

Soon Lincoln finds himself on the corner of Twelfth and Clay Streets, staring at the former home of Jefferson Davis. Lincoln steps past the sentry boxes, grasps the wrought-iron railing, and marches up the steps into the Confederate White House.

He is shown into a small room with floor-to-ceiling windows and crossed cavalry swords over the door. "This was President Davis's office," a housekeeper says respectfully.

Lincoln's eyes roam over the elegant wood desk, which Davis had so thoughtfully tidied before running off two days earlier. "Then this must be President Davis's chair," he says with a grin, sinking into its burgundy padding. He crosses his legs and leans back.

Lincoln can afford to relax. He has Richmond. The Confederacy is doomed. All the president needs now is for Grant to finish the rest of the job, and then he can get to the work of reunification that will be known to history as Reconstruction.


TUESDAY, APRIL 4, 1865Amelia Court House, Virginia

The day-and-a-half trudge to Amelia Court House, where Lee and his soldiers hope to find rations, began optimistically enough, with Lee's men happy to finally be away from Petersburg and looking forward to their first real meal in months. Lee's optimism slowly filtered down into the ranks. Against all odds, his men regained their confidence as the trenches of Petersburg receded into the distance.

By the time they reach Amelia Court House, on April 4, electricity sizzles through the ranks. The men are speaking of hope and are confident of victory as they wonder where and when they will fight the Yankees once again.

It's just before noon when they arrive. Lee quietly gives the order to unload the supply train and distribute the food in an organized fashion. The last thing he wants is for his army to give in to their hunger and rush the train. Orderliness is crucial for an effective fighting force.

The train doors are yanked open. Inside, huge wooden containers are stacked floor to ceiling. Lee's excited men hurriedly jerk the boxes down onto the ground and pry them open.

Then, horror!

This is what those boxes contain: 200 crates of ammunition, 164 cartons of artillery harnesses, and 96 carts to carry ammunition.

There is no food.

Lee's optimism is replaced by defeat. "His face was still calm, as it always was," wrote one enlisted man. "But his carriage was no longer erect, as his soldiers had been used to seeing it. The troubles of these last days had already plowed great furrows in his forehead. His eyes were red as if with weeping, his cheeks sunken and haggard, his face colorless. No one who looked upon him then, as he stood there in full view of the disastrous end, can ever forget the intense agony written on his features."

Lee sends wagons out to scour the countryside in search of food. He anxiously awaits their return, praying they will be overflowing with grains and smoked meats and leading calves and pigs to be slaughtered.

The wagons come back empty. The countryside is bare.

Lee must move before Grant finds him. His fallback plan is yet another forced march, this one to the city of Danville, where more than a million rations are supposed to await. Danville, however, is a hundred miles south. As impossible as it is to think of marching an army that far on empty stomachs, it is Lee's only hope.


WEDNESDAY, APRIL 5, 1865 Amelia Court House, Virginia

A cold rain falls on the morning of April 5. Lee gives the order to move out. It is, in the mind of one Confederate soldier, "the cruelest marching order the commanders had ever given the men in four years of fighting." Units of infantry, cavalry, and artillery begin trudging down the road. Danville is a four-day march — if they have the energy to make it. "It is now," one soldier writes in his diary, "a race of life or death."

They get only seven miles before coming to a dead halt at a Union roadblock outside Jetersville. At first there appears to be no more than a small cavalry force. But a quick look through Lee's field glasses reveals the truth. Union soldiers are digging trenches and fortifications along the road and reinforcing them with fallen trees and fence rails to protect themselves from rebel bullets.

Lee gallops his horse, Traveller, to the front and considers the situation. Sometimes knowing when not to fight is just as important to a general's success as knowing how to fight.

And this is not a time to fight.

Lee quickly turns his army west in a big loop toward the town of Paineville. The men don't travel down one single road but spread out along a series of parallel roads connecting the hamlets and burgs of rural Virginia. The countryside is rolling and open in some places, forested in others, and sometimes swampy. Creeks and rivers overflow their banks from the recent rains, drenching the troops at every crossing.


Excerpted from Lincoln's Last Days by Bill O'Reilly, Dwight Jon Zimmerman. Copyright © 2012 Bill O'Reilly. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
A Note to Readers,
Key Players,
PART 1 The Beginning of the End of the War,
PART 2 The Conspiracy to Assassinate,
PART 3 Lincoln's Last Day,
PART 4 Chasing the Assassins,
Lincoln's World,
Did You Know?,
Abraham Lincoln Time Line,
John Wilkes Booth Time Line,
Washington, D.C.,
Military Terms,
Recommended Reading,
Recommended Websites,
Recommended Viewing,
About the Authors,

Reading Group Guide

In the spring of 1865, President Abraham Lincoln returns to Washington, D.C., after a brief tour of the defeated Confederacy, marking the end of America's bloody Civil War. Then on April 14, Lincoln is assassinated at Ford's Theatre by a famous actor named John Wilkes Booth. What follows is a thrilling
chase, ending with a fiery shoot-out and swift justice for the perpetrators. With an unforgettable cast of characters, pageturning action, vivid detail, and art on every spread, Lincoln's Last Days is history that reads like a thriller. Lincoln's Last Days is a lavishly illustrated middle-grade edition of Bill O'Reilly‘s
nonfiction bestseller Killing Lincoln.

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Lincoln's Last Days: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 71 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The "ONE STAR" ratings are ridiculous! This book is very enjoyable for children and young teens, as well as adults. It is a excellent pairing for the Killing Lincoln that has been on the NYT Bestseller List for weeks and weeks. These "raters" are obviously Bill O "Haters" so DON'T, under any circumstances take their word for the "ONE STAR" rating...YOU WILL LOVE THIS BOOK!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I think a lot of teachers should use this book to get students excited about reading about history. Love the authors. I like their straight forward way of telling you things about historical figures, without making them boring. I was also surprised that their own political views didn't color their writings.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ok.... so, I am 11 and I never knew that John Wilkes Booth actually had other people in on the assasination. I also didn't know that they attacked Secretary of State Stanton in his bed to topple the American government. After I read this book, I researched on the assasination to be sure of the facts even though Mr. O'Reilly does his research. I am a kid, but I like politics. I may not aggree with some of you, but this is a wonderful history book!! :)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book takes you on a amazing ride through Linolns last days until his death. Absolutely a book that any historian or lincoln fan shoul read.
PatCA More than 1 year ago
You can tell from the start that this will be an interesting factual easy read. There is no political agenda here. Just the story of history in the making. We read this book in anticipation of our trip to Wash DC and Ford theater/ Gettysburg. We knew the facts before we went, and it made it so interesting. I think high school students would really enjoy this read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you love history and want to learn more or if your school dosent teach you enough of it than this book is for you.
Gimpynomore More than 1 year ago
Contains a lot of behind the scenes about the assination of Linclon and the happenings afterward.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very interesting book.I cant wait to see what happens next!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was amazed as to how the book gave blow by blow precise details and a time line of Lincoln's last days. I also appreciated the drawings very much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My teacher said that this is a really good book, she was right. Wich is why I bought this book in the first place. I just know young readrs like me like this book as well as I do, so i hope they get a good education.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is this a good book !!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am defintly going to get this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really good book so far!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is sad but i still like it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think that this was a amazing book. I really never found something confusing or incorect. I would highly recomend this book to anybody including adults or just someone who likes history. It is frendly to kids because it has pictuers and photographs. It also includes what happend after the assasanation. Over all, it deserves 3000000 stars!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you dont want your kid to read this then dont let him. And i doubt ur actually "lady obama" . If u r, dont call urself that cuz it makes u sound like the wife of a lord. Obama is quite far from that. U know what, u shiuld tell him how communism isnt for america.... he seems to be putting us on that track. Btw... great book! Sorry for my rant but its true;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its a really good book!:D
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Your a dumbowumbofatabat
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It taught me alot about lincon and how he died very good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is really good, I mean GREAT! I loved this book soooooooooooooo much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My grandsons loved this book. It was interesting and enjoyable to read. I would highly recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and i know that others would like it too!!