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The Search For The Man Who Attempted To Assassinate
Secretary Of State William H. Seward
 
 
Source: Provost Marshal Records
 
 
Lewis Powell
 
On the night that John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln, he also assigned Lewis Powell to murder Secretary of State William H. Seward. At this time, Seward was bedridden by a carriage accident. On April 5, Seward was thrown from his carriage, suffering a concussion, a jaw broken in two places, and a broken right arm. Doctors improvised a jaw splint to repair his jaw, and on the night of the assassination he was still restricted to bed at his home in Lafayette Park in Washington, not too far from the White House. Herold guided Powell to Seward's residence on Booth's orders.
 
Powell was carrying an 1858 Whitney revolver which was a large, heavy and popular gun during the Civil War. Additionally, he carried a silver-handled bowie knife. He was a young man, but was a former member of Mosby's Rangers and The Confederate Secret Service.
 
Powell knocked at the front door of the house a little after 10:00 p.m.  William Bell, Seward's butler, answered the door. Powell told Bell that he had medicine for Seward from Dr. Verdi, and that he was to personally deliver and show Seward how to take the medicine. Having gained admittance, Powell made his way up the stairs to Seward's third floor bedroom. At the top of the staircase, he was approached by Seward's son and Assistant Secretary of State Frederick W.
Seward. Powell told Frederick the same story that he had told Bell at the front door. Frederick was suspicious of the intruder, and told Powell that his father was asleep.
 
After hearing voices in the hall, Seward's daughter Fanny opened the door to Seward's room and said, "Fred, father is awake now", and then returned to the room, thus revealing to Powell where Seward was located. Powell started down the stairs when suddenly he jolted around again and drew his revolver, pointing it at Frederick's forehead. He pulled the trigger, but the gun misfired. Panicking, Powell smashed the gun over Frederick's head continuously until Frederick collapsed. Ironically, he could have just fired it again, but when he beat Frederick, it destroyed the handgun beyond repair. Fanny, wondering what all the noise was, looked out the door again. She saw her brother bloody and unconscious on the floor and Powell running towards her. Powell ran to Seward's bed and stabbed him repeatedly in the face and neck. He missed the first time he swung his knife down, but the third blow sliced open Seward's cheek. Seward's neck brace was the only thing that prevented the blade from penetrating his jugular. Sergeant Robinson and Seward's son Augustus tried
to drive Powell away. Augustus had been asleep in his room, but was awakened by Fanny's screams of terror. Outside, Herold also heard Fanny's screaming. He became frightened and ran away, abandoning Powell.
 
Secretary Seward had rolled off the bed and onto the floor by the force of the blows where he could not be reached by Powell. Powell fought off Robinson, Augustus, and Fanny, stabbing them as well. When Augustus went for his pistol, Powell ran downstairs and headed to the front door. Just then, a messenger named Emerick Hansell arrived with a telegram for Seward. Powell stabbed Hansell in the back, causing him to fall to the floor. Powell ran outside, untied his horse from the tree where Herold left it, and rode away alone.
 
Sergeant Robinson lifted the Secretary from the floor back onto the bed. Secretary Seward spat the blood out of his mouth and said "I am not dead; send for a doctor, send for the police. Close the house". Seward's wounds were ugly, but Powell's wild stabs in the dark room did not hit anything vital. The Secretary survived the attacks.
 
Powell was arrested on April 17, 1865. He was tried, convicted and sentenced to hang. Powell died on the gallows in the courtyard of the Old Arsenal Building along with three of his fellow conspirators on July 7, 1865.
 

The Report issued by the Military, searching for Lewis Powell
The description of Powell came from Secretary Seward.
 
 
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