Lewis Powell (assassin)


Lewis Powell (assassin)

Infobox Person
name = Lewis Thornton "Paine" Powell


image_size = 200px
caption = Lewis Powell after his arrest, 1865
birth_date = birth date|1844|4|22|mf=y
birth_place = Randolph County, Alabama, U.S.
death_date = death date and age|1865|7|7|1844|4|22|mf=y
death_place = Washington, D.C., U.S.
occupation = Soldier
spouse =
parents =Rev. George C. Powell Caroline Powell
children =

Lewis Thornton Powell (April 22, 1844 – July 7, 1865), also known as Lewis Paine or Payne, attempted unsuccessfully to assassinate United States Secretary of State William H. Seward, and was one of four people hanged for the Lincoln assassination conspiracy.

Early life

Lewis Powell was born in Randolph County, Alabama on April 22, 1844 to a Baptist minister, George Cader, and his young wife Patience Caroline Powell. The youngest of ten children, he spent the first three years of his life in Randolph County before his father was ordained and the family moved to Stewart County, Georgia. Powell and his siblings were all educated by their father who was the school master at the school. In his early years, Lewis is described as quiet and introverted. He enjoyed reading and studying. An animal lover who took the liberty to nurse and care for sick and stray animals, he earned the nickname 'Doc'. When Lewis was 13, he was violently kicked in the face by the family's donkey, breaking his jaw. The break healed, making his jaw more prominent on the left side of his face. After some years in Stewart County, the family moved to Worth County, then finally moving to Live Oak, Florida in 1859, when Lewis was 15. On May 30, 1861 at age 17, Lewis left home and enlisted in the 2nd Florida Infantry, Company I. He went on to fight at numerous battles unscathed before being wounded in the wrist on the second day of fighting at the Battle of Gettysburg, July 2, 1863. Lewis was captured and sent to a POW hospital at Pennsylvania College where he was kept until September, when he was transferred to West Buildings Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. It was at West Buildings where Powell met and developed a relationship with a volunteer nurse named Margaret "Maggie" Branson. It was with the help of Branson that Lewis was able to escape the hospital within a week of his arrival, fleeing to Alexandria, Virginia.

Back in Virginia, Powell tried to locate the 2nd Florida, but to no avail. He did however locate Col. John Singleton Mosby and his cavalry in late fall 1863 and rode with the 43rd Battalion, Company B. After leaving the company, he returned to Baltimore on January 13, 1865, crossing the lines at Alexandria. Powell returned to the boarding house of Maggie Branson. During his time with the rangers, in 1864, Powell became involved in the Confederate Secret Service. It was in Baltimore that he was arrested for severely beating a black servant at the Branson house. He was arrested and held in jail 2 days on charges of being a "spy". Required to sign an Oath of Allegiance, he did so, under the name Lewis Paine. It was also in Baltimore that he met fellow CSS operative John Surratt through a man named David Preston Parr, also with the CSS.

Lincoln plot

On December 23, 1864, Lewis Powell was walking the streets of Washington with John Surratt, when they came around a corner and Surratt recognized his friend Samuel Mudd walking with a man. Mudd hailed his friend, and the two parties converged on the sidewalk. Mudd introduced John Wilkes Booth to Surratt, and Surratt introduced Powell to Booth and Mudd. Booth then offered that the men return to his hotel room for drinks and cigars. It was in his hotel room that he enlisted the men into his plot to kidnap the President, which they attempted to do on March 17, 1865, to no avail. After the failed attempt, Lewis lost contact with his friends, and drifted around Washington. Then in April, he was contacted by Booth again, this time to be enlisted in a plot to kill the President and his cabinet. On April 13, Booth, George Atzerodt and David Herold all met at Powell's room at a boarding house in Washington, where Booth assigned roles. Powell was to go to the home of Secretary of State William Seward and kill him, accompanied by Herold. Atzerodt would assassinate Vice President Johnson, and Booth; Abraham Lincoln.

After being escorted to the Seward residence by David Herold, Powell attempted to kill William Seward on April 14, 1865 (the same night that John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln ) by breaking into his bedroom and stabbing him repeatedly. Earlier in the month, on April 5, 1865, Seward had been injured in a carriage accident, and suffered a concussion, a broken jaw, a broken right arm, and many serious bruises. A jaw splint worn by Seward helped to save his life by deflecting the knife away from his jugular vein. Four other people were injured in the attack. Another member of the conspiracy, George Atzerodt, failed to kill Vice-President Andrew Johnson, because he lost his nerve and got drunk.

Powell was tried under the name of "Payne" by a military tribunal and was executed with three other conspirators on July 7, 1865. He went to the gallows calmly and quietly, though at some point he was believed to have pleaded for the life of Mary Surratt shortly before he was hanged. His spiritual advisor, Rev. Gillette, thanked the guards for their good treatment of him while he was in prison, on his behalf. He insisted to his death that Mrs. Surratt was innocent.

While hangman Christian Rath was placing the noose over young Powell's head he remarked, "I hope you die quick." He had been impressed by Powell's courage and determination in the face of death. To this Powell replied, "You know best, captain." However Powell did not die quickly as hoped by Rath. After the drop he struggled for life more than five minutes. His body swinging wildly, twice he "Moved his legs up into the sitting position" and was the last to die. George Atzerodt died instantly with a broken neck. David Herold gave a brief shudder and wet himself. Mary Surratt, whose neck did not break upon impact, also shuddered for several minutes before dying.

kull discovery

In January 1992, Powell's skull was discovered and stored at the Smithsonian Anthropology Department. Two years later the skull was re-interred with the rest of his remains at the Geneva Cemetery in Seminole County, Florida, next to the grave of his mother.Fact|date=February 2007

External links

* [http://home.att.net/~rjnorton/Lincoln25.html Lewis Powell]
* [http://samuelmudd.com samuelmudd.com]


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