Random Facts about the Assassination of President Garfield
ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT GARFIELD
July 2, 1881, at 9:25 A.M., as President Garfield was entering the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad depot at Washington, preparatory to taking the cars for a two weeks' jaunt in New England, he was fired upon and severely wounded by Charles Jules Guitean, a native of Illinois, but of French descent. The scene of the assassination was the ladies' reception-room at the station. The President and Mr. Blaine, arm in arm, were walking slowly through the aisle between two rows of benches on either side of the room; when Guitean entered by a side door on the left of the gentlemen, passed quickly around the back of the benches till directly behind the President, and fired the shot that struck his arm. Mr. Garfield walked about ten feet to the end of the aisle, and was in the act of turning to face his assailant when the second shot struck him in the small of the back, and he fell. The assassin was immediately seized and taken to jail. The wounded president was conveyed in an ambulance to the White House. As he was very faint, the first fear was of internal hemorrhage, which might cause speedy death. But as he rallied in a few hours, this danger was thought to be averted and inflammation was now feared. But as symptoms of this failed to appear, the surgeons in attendance concluded that no important organ had been injured, that the bullet would become encysted and harmless, or might possibly be located and successfully removed. By the 10th of July, the reports were so favorable, that the president's recovery was regarded as certain, and public thanksgivings were offered in several of the States, by order of the governors, for his deliverance. The first check in the favorable symptoms occurred on July 18, and July 23 there was a serious relapse, attended with chills and fever. The wound had been frequently probed but without securing any favorable result. The induction balance was used to locate the ball, and was regarded as a success, though subsequently its indications were known to have been altogether erroneous. The probings, therefore, in what was assumed to be the track of the ball, only increased the unfavorable symptoms. During the entire month of August these reports were alternately hopeful and discouraging, the dangerous indications being generally on the increase. By August 25, his situation was understood to be very critical, though an apparent improvement on the 26th and 28th again aroused hope. At his own earnest desire the president was removed, September 6, to Elberon Park, near Long Branch. N.J., in the hope that the cooler air of the seaside might renew his strength more rapidly. However, the improvement hoped for did not appear. On September 16, there was a serious relapse, with well-marked symptoms of blood poisoning, and September 19, the president died. A post-mortem examination showed that the ball, after fracturing one of the ribs, had passed through the spinal column, fracturing the body of one of the vertebra, driving a number of small fragments of bone into the soft parts adjacent, and lodging below the pancreas, where it had become completely encysted. The immediate cause of death was hemorrhage from one of the small arteries in the track of the ball, but the principal cause was the poisoning of the blood from suppuration.