The year was 1865 and it began with Abraham Lincoln in office and the long and brutal Civil War in the U.S. coming to an end. By the time it was ended, according to the Civil War Center at Louisiana State University, combined there were over 970,000 casualties (184,594 combat deaths, 373,458 deaths from disease and other causes, and 412,175 wounded).
On April 14, the newspapers were still talking about Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, and peace, but the following day’s newspapers would tell a different story. On April 14, actor John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre and he died at 7:22 a.m. the next morning. “The New York Times” edition for April 15 chronicles the events of that evening and is available free online at Ancestry.com.
In the worst marine disaster in U.S. history, on April 27, one of the boilers on the riverboat Sultana burst and 1,547 of the estimated 2,485 passengers and crew died, many of them soldiers recently released from the Confederate prison at Andersonville.
On the medical front, British surgeon Joseph Lister began the use of antiseptics in surgery. Unfortunately it was a practice that took time to catch on and many doctors scoffed at it. It wasnâ€™t until the 1880s that there was an increase in the use of antiseptics.