I watched them lead him out the door,
As he exited his cell.
I followed them, as he had asked,
To give his last farewell.
“A boy” I thought of him at first,
When I was called to pray,
But with death’s knocking out in the yard,
I saw a man today.
While saddened by his coming death,
He confessed to me his crime:
“I helped a man who killed a man.
Where will I spend all time?”
I said I could not answer him,
To God he must appeal.
We sat there in redemptive prayer,
And begged his soul to heal.
So while his frame may falter,
During these, his last grains of life,
On the gallows he’ll stand, with his clenched hands,
A man, adverse to strife.
Fictional poem from the perspective of Rev. Dr. Mark Olds, David Herold’s spiritual advisor on the scaffold.
Justified or not, four individuals paid the ultimate price for their involvement with John Wilkes Booth. Those saved from execution faced their own mortality when they heard the drops fall and would carry the stigma of their association for the rest of their lives. Lincoln’s assassination killed not only the President and the innocence of our nation, but also the lives of the misguided supporters who knew not what they were doing.