George F. Robinson

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George Foster Robinson
George F. Robinson, US Army.jpg
Birth name George F. Robinson
Born (1832-08-13)August 13, 1832
Hartford, Maine
Died August 16, 1907(1907-08-16) (aged 75)
Pomona, California[1]
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1863–1865, 1879–1896
Rank Union army maj rank insignia.jpg Major
Unit 8th Maine Infantry
Awards Congressional Gold Medal[2]
Spouse(s) Roxinda Aurora Clark Robinson
Medal presented to George F. Robinson for saving William H. Seward's life

George Foster Robinson (August 13, 1832 – August 16, 1907) was a soldier of the United States Army and the attendant of Secretary of State William H. Seward who was best known for his role in foiling the assassination attempt of William Seward by Lewis Powell for which he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1871.

Robinson joined 8th Maine Infantry in August 1863, and was serving as an attendant to Seward while recovering from battlefield wounds. He was honorably discharged in May 1865 but returned to the Army as a major in June 1879, and was retired in August 1896 after serving for 20 years.[3]


George F. Robinson was born to Isaac Watts Robinson and Deborah Thomas in Hartford, Maine, in 1832. Robinson was enlisted, in Company B, 8th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment.[1]

He was wounded on 20 May 1864 at the Battle of Ware Bottom Church in Virginia and was honorably discharged from 8th Infantry Regiment Maine on 17 May 1865. But he returned to the Army as a major in 1879, and served till his retirement in 1896.[1]

Robinson died of pneumonia at age 75 on August 16, 1907, in Pomona, California. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C..[1]

Assassination attempt of William Seward[edit]

John Wilkes Booth had originally planned to kidnap Lincoln, and recruited conspirators, including Lewis Powell. On 14 April 1865, Powell entered through the door of Seward's home. Initially, Powell started back down the stairs when suddenly he jolted around and drew his revolver, pointing it at Frederick Seward's forehead. He pulled the trigger, but the gun misfired. Instead of pulling the trigger again, Powell panicked and hit Frederick about the head with it. Seward crumpled to the floor unconscious, but Powell's gun was damaged beyond repair. Fanny then saw her brother bloody and unconscious on the floor and Powell running towards her. Powell shoved her aside, ran to Seward's bed and began stabbing 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.[4] Seward's splint was the only thing that prevented the blade from penetrating his jugular vein.[4]

Private George F. Robinson, a soldier assigned to attend the secretary, and Seward's son Augustus, an army officer, tried to drive Powell away. Augustus had been asleep in his room, but was awakened by Fanny's screams of terror. Outside the residence, David Herold also heard Fanny screaming. He became frightened and ran away, abandoning Powell.[4] The force of Powell's blows had driven Secretary Seward off the bed and onto the floor behind the bed where Powell could not reach him. Powell fought off Robinson, Augustus, and Fanny, stabbing both Robinson and Augustus in the process and escaped through the main door after stabbing Emerick Hansell, a messenger who was bringing a telegram to Seward. Despite the fact that he was injured, Robinson and Fanny Seward immediately applied first aid to the wounded Secretary of State stopping the bleeding and saving his life.[1]

1871 Congressional Gold Medal[edit]

On March 1, 1871, American Congress approved the award of the Congressional Gold Medal to Private (later Major) Robinson, who was credited with fighting off Lewis Powell and saving the life of Secretary of State William Seward on 14 April 1865.[5] Robinson received this specially struck medal, the thanks of Congress and a monetary reward in honor of his bravery.[6][7]


  1. ^ a b c d e Blackstock, Joe. "George Foster Robinson". Arlington National Cemetery. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  2. ^ "Private George Foster Robinson – Our Hero". 8th Maine Regiment Memorial Association. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  3. ^ "Lot #423:". Raynor's Historical Collectible Auctions. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  4. ^ a b c Edward Steers, ed. (2010). The Trial: The Assassination of President Lincoln and the Trial of the Conspirators. University Press of Kentucky. p. 20. ISBN 0-8131-2277-5. 
  5. ^ David T. Zabecki (2006) [1988]. American Artillery and the Medal of Honor. Merriam Press. p. 81. ISBN 1-57638-035-1. 
  6. ^ "Congressional Gold Medal Recipients". United States House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives. Retrieved 2015-02-07. 
  7. ^ "George F. Robinson Medallion". Indiana Historical Society. Retrieved 2015-02-07.