Augustus Henry Seward

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Augustus Henry Seward
Augustus Henry Seward.jpg
Augustus Henry Seward
Born (1826-10-01)October 1, 1826
Auburn, New York, U.S.
Died September 11, 1876(1876-09-11) (aged 49)
Montrose, New York, U.S.
Place of burial Fort Hill Cemetery, Auburn, New York
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1847 - 1876
Rank Union Army colonel rank insignia.png Brevet Colonel
Battles/wars Mexican-American War
American Civil War

Augustus Henry Seward (October 1, 1826—September 11, 1876) was the son of William H. Seward and Frances Adeline Seward. He was a career officer in the United States Army, and attained the rank of brevet Colonel.

Early life[edit]

Augustus H. Seward was born in Auburn, New York on October 1, 1826, and was the first child of William H. Seward and his wife Frances Miller.[1][2] In addition to being the son of William H. and Frances Seward, Augustus Seward was the grandson of Judges Elijah Miller and Samuel S. Seward, and the brother of Frederick William Seward, Cornelia Seward, William Henry Seward, Jr. and Frances Adeline "Fanny" Seward.[3]

In 1847, Seward graduated from the United States Military Academy, ranked 34th of 38th students.[4] While at West Point his roommates included Henry Heth, who ranked 38th.[5]


After graduation, Seward was appointed a Second Lieutenant in the 8th Infantry Regiment, and he served with his regiment in Mexico during the Mexican-American War.[6] After the war Augustus Seward continued his military career, serving with the 5th Infantry in: East Pascagoula, Mississippi; Forts Towson and Washita in Indian Territory; on the Utah Expedition; and at Forts Defiance and Union in New Mexico Territory. He was promoted to First Lieutenant in 1853 and Captain in 1859.[7]

Civil War[edit]

In 1861 Augutus Seward transferred to the Paymaster Corps and was promoted to Major. Later that year he declined an appointment in the 19th Infantry. During the American Civil War he carried out paymaster and staff duties in New Mexico Territory, Arizona Territory and Washington, D.C. He received brevet promotions to Lieutenant Colonel in May, 1865 and Colonel in November, 1865 in recognition of his Civil War service.[8]

Assassination attempt[edit]

Augustus Seward was staying at the home of his father in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1865 when Lewis Powell attempted to assassinate William H. Seward at the same time John Wilkes Booth was carrying out the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.[9][10] His father was in bed recovering from injuries sustained in a carriage accident, and a jaw splint he was wearing as a result likely deflected Powell's knife and saved Seward's life.[11] Augustus, his brother Frederick and others in the house were attacked by Powell as Powell attempted to gain access to Seward's bedroom, as they intervened in Powell's attack on Seward, and again as Powell made his escape. Augustus suffered seven stab wounds and remained in Washington until 1868, where he testified at Powell's trial, and performed staff duties while recovering from his wounds.[12]

Later career[edit]

Augustus Seward continued to serve in the Army and perform paymaster and staff duties. His postings included: Boston, Massachusetts, from January to October, 1868; New York City from 1868 to 1869; leave of absence from February to December, 1869; Chief Paymaster of the Department of the Cumberland from December, 1869 to May, 1870; Chief Paymaster of the Department of the South and Paymaster of the department headquarters from May, 1870 to October, 1871; and Paymaster of the Department of Dakota from November, 1871 to May, 1876.[13]

Death and burial[edit]

In May 1876, Seward was diagnosed with an affliction described as paralysis of the eye. He took a leave of absence from the Army and died at the home of his brother Frederick in Montrose, New York on September 11, 1876.[14][15] He was buried at Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn.[16]

Augustus Street in Auburn, one of four streets named for members of the Seward family, and which form a city block, is named for him.[17]


  1. ^ Thomas William Herringshaw, Herringshaw's National Library of American Biography, 1914, page 161
  2. ^ Frederic Bancroft, The Life of William H. Seward, Volume 1, 1900, page 203
  3. ^ University of Rochester, River Campus Libraries, William Henry Seward papers: Biography, William H. Seward, retrieved November 1, 2013
  4. ^ J. B. Lyon Company, Printer, Documents of the Assembly of the State of New York, Volume 35: Officers Who Served in the Regular Army of the United States from April 1, 1861 to April 30, 1865, 1911, page 4436
  5. ^ James S. Robbins, Last in Their Class: Custer, Pickett and the Goats of West Point, 2006, page 73
  6. ^ Frederick Augustus Porter Barnard, Arnold Guyot, editors, Johnson's New Universal Cyclopædia, Volume 4 Part 2, 1883, page 1659
  7. ^ George Washington Cullum, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the United States Military Academy, Volume II, 1868, page 204
  8. ^ George Washington Cullum, Edward Singleton Holden, Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the United States Military Academy, Volume II (3rd edition), 1891, page 340
  9. ^ Mark Jones, Peter Johnstone, History of Criminal Justice, 2011, page 273
  10. ^ Thomas Goodrich, The Darkest Dawn: Lincoln, Booth, and the Great American Tragedy, 2006, pages 92-93
  11. ^ Don Voorhees, The Indispensable Book of Useless Information, Your Name is Mudd, 2011
  12. ^ Charles Bracelen Flood. Grant and Sherman: The Friendship That Won the Civil War, 2006, pages 327-328
  13. ^ Cullum, Holden, Biographical Register, 1891, page 340
  14. ^ Lowell (Mass.) Daily Courier, Death notice, Augustus H. Seward, September 12, 1876
  15. ^ Utica (N.Y.) Weekly Herald, Death notice, Augustus H. Seward, December 12, 1876
  16. ^ Augustus Henry Seward at Find a Grave
  17. ^ Maggie MacLean, Civil War Women, Women of the Civil War and Reconstruction Eras 1849-1877, Frances Seward, October 1, 2010

External links[edit]

Augustus Henry Seward at Find a Grave