Muzzle loaders are actually quite accurate if they have rifled barrels and conical lead bullets, as most hunters use. Add a scope, and it'* going to be as accurate as any modern rifle within 150 yards or so.
Considering who they worked for, and the fact that they were seriously considering a mercy killing, I doubt there would have been any problems if the Eagle had died. It lowered the risk quite a bit. Glad they freed it though.