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Author Topic: Miscellaneous details regarding Powell's attack on Seward  (Read 13314 times)
JohnE
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« on: May 15, 2011, 05:25:56 PM »

1. William Seward had no upper teeth and was required to wear dentures.

2. On the night of the attack, the hall was partially lighted.

3. The winding stairs were built in 2 short flights with landings between, so that one could not look from the head of the stairs to the bottom.

4. At the top of the stairway, Seward's door was a yard away.


** Bangor, Maine Weekly Commercial  9/15/1907
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Mark
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« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2011, 07:19:41 AM »

Just a beginning student of the assassination so forgive me if I am in error.

From reading the testimony at John Surratts trial, didn't Powell cry out "I am mad"  repeatedly as he was horrifically attacking Seward?
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JohnE
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« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2011, 12:20:54 PM »

Hi Mark, he said "I'm mad, I'm mad" while battling Seward's son Gus and Pvt. George Robinson.  He had already finished attacking the Secretary of State.
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Mark
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« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2011, 02:51:58 PM »

Thanks, John. 
I wonder if Powell thought that Seward was mortally wounded or if he was just in a crazed frenzy. And Powell's pistol failed?  Was it also a derringer? Too bad it wasn't Booth's that failed. Then we would have a different story altogether.
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Wesley Harris
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« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2011, 03:22:21 PM »

Mark,
the pistol was a Whitney .36-caliber 6-shot revolver.  Presumably it misfired but during the attack it also fell apart as Powell beat Frederick Seward with it.
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Mark
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« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2011, 03:37:20 PM »

Thanks, Wesley.  Amazing the depth of knowledge here.

How interesting that gun failed. Somehow I thought it was a cap type which I assumed was prone to failing. I wonder how many times he pulled the trigger then before resorting to the knife.
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JohnE
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« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2011, 09:23:27 PM »

I always thought he meant what he said.  The enormity of what he was doing, coupled with all the blood and his situation led him to say what he did.  As in, how did it come to this for me ?
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JohnE
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« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2011, 07:40:02 AM »

Exactly, Betty !  For months, their was so much talk and then finally the moment came.  I was thinking of his confession to Gillette and how he almost immediately had regrets.
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Mark
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« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2011, 08:50:15 AM »

I was wondering how you, Laurie and Betty, would respond to this. Its nice to meet you both. I have lurked here awhile and noticed both of your particular interests in Powell.

I certainly don't have y'all's expertise here, but it seems to me sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. A rose by any other name if you prefer.  Powell's vicious attack seems very much like madness in those or any other times. 

Maybe the question is this. Is Powell's attack considered by historians to have been a despicable act?  Or, is this act and the other conspirators' actions deemed gallant works of patriotic fervor? 

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Dave Taylor
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« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2011, 09:02:55 AM »

I don't have the trial in front of me, but I seem to recall that Powell shouting "I"m mad" wasn't supported by Robinson.  If I'm remembering correctly Augustus said Powell whispered it under his breath and Robinson never heard it at all.  I might have them switched, but after reading their testimonies I remember having severe doubts whether it was said at all.
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Randal
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« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2011, 11:02:42 AM »

Wasn't Powell asked when being interviewd by Gen. Augur and upon William Bell identifying him, to repeat those words? And Bell said yep, that's him?
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Randal
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« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2011, 11:09:44 AM »

Thanks Betty, I thought I recalled that
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Dave Taylor
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« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2011, 11:59:59 AM »

Betty,

What you have posted is exactly what I remembered.  Augustus said he heard Powell say "I'm mad" while Robinson did not.  I just find it odd that Robinson did not hear Powell since he and Augustus were wrestling with him at the same time.  However, using Augustus' testimony, "During this time, he repeated, in an intense but not strong voice, the words, ďIím mad, Iím mad!Ē leads me to believe that Powell said it quietly so that only Augustus heard it.  

To me "I'm mad" wasn't a battle cry to scare the Sewards off, but rather Powell's conscience verbally condemning his own actions.  
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Mark
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« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2011, 12:30:18 PM »

This is so interesting. The Augustus Seward testimony is from John Surratt's trial? Funny, my Kindle version which I believe is the Poore transcription has slightly different verbiage. Its a poor scan. It looks like it was using optical character recognition that isn't quite accurate at all times.

 I.E. "While shoving him, he struck me five or six times on the forehead and of my head, with what I supposed to be a bottle or decanter that seized from the table, and during this time he said, in an intense but no voice, 'I am mad ; I am mad.' On reaching the door that went into he gave a sudden turn, sprung away from me, and disappeared dowi"

The mistakes of the scan are frustrating.

I agree with you Betty to judge by their standards which in my mind are stricter than ours. Maybe a 20 year old in 1865 was not so much a kid as we would think. Certainly an adult in legal terms, I guess. I don't know what the legal age distinction was back then. If he admitted what he did was wrong, I believe him. I believe him also when he says he was mad. I guess there is a pesky definition of mad.

I hope you can tolerate my dubiousness. I certainly haven't read enough. What I do feel though, is that these were horrible despicable men from their actions. No rationalization changes that, if I understand the facts to be  actual true history.  

Hi Laurie. By the way, I have a great respect for you and Betty and others for your amazing knowledge just from having read posts on this forum. You all may find it interesting what I come to believe as a history newbie, slowly opening my eyes to things.

My initial impression of Powell is however, not at all good. He appears raving, murderous,  and a madman.  That is why I mentioned the "I am mad" matter. Jumping on the bed of an old man no matter who he is, slashing away without inflicting a mortal wound, gashing his face, bringing a broken(?) or failing pistol, doesn't exactly point to rational thought.  Please don't take it personally, I just don't think Powell was a good kid in the framework of anybodies time and place.

Maybe what I am learning is that there is history and then there is what we think about history.



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Mark
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« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2011, 12:36:25 PM »

Sorry Laurie, I know nothing about Mosby. When you say "his assignment" that means you believe they were on orders from Richmond?
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