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Seaver, Thomas Orville


Age: 27, credited to Cavendish, VT
Unit(s): 3rd VT INF
Service: comn CPT, Co. F, 3rd VT INF, 5/24/61 (5/24/61), pr MAJ 8/13/61 (8/13/61), pr LTC, 9/27/62 (10/4/62), pr COL 1/15/63 (2/2/63), m/o 7/27/64 (Medal of Honor) [College: NU 51, UC 59]

See Legend for expansion of abbreviations


Birth: 12/23/1833, Cavendish, VT
Death: 07/11/1912

Burial: River Street Cemetery, Woodstock, VT
Marker/Plot: Not recorded
Gravestone photographer: Carolyn Adams
Findagrave Memorial #: 23050


Alias?: None noted
Pension?: Yes, 8/1/1892, VT; widow Nancy J., 8/22/1912, VT
Portrait?: Jones Collection, VHS Collections
College?: NU 51, UC 59
Veterans Home?: Not Found
(If there are state digraphs above, this soldier spent some time in a state or national soldiers' home in that state after the war)

Remarks: None


Cousin of Madeleine Y. Seaver, Lake Havasu City, AZ

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River Street Cemetery, Woodstock, VT

Check the cemetery for location/directions and other veterans who may be buried there.


This soldier was awarded the Medal of Honor

Thomas Orvilla Seaver

Rank and Organization: Colonel, 3rd Vermont Infantry.
Place and date: Spotsylvania Courthouse, VA, 10 May 1864.
Entered service at: Pomfret.
Born: 23 Dec 1833, Cavendish.
Died: 11 Jul 1912, Woodstock.
Buried: River Street Cemetery, Woodstock, VT
Date of Issue: 8 Apr 1892.
Citation: At the head of 3 regiments and under a most galling fire attacked and occupied the enemy's works.


VHS - Reunion Society Collection


Dewey Jones Collection

NARA File Number: B-986-VS-1862.

Thomas O. Seaver
Colonel, 3rd Vermont Infantry
1833 -- 1912
by Linda M. Welch

Thomas Orville Seaver8 {Joseph7, Joseph6, Joseph5, Shubael4, Shubael3, Robert1}, was born in Cavendish, 23 Dec., 1833. He was a lawyer, and a "Captain ", living in Pomfret, Vt. and aged 27, when he m. at Quechee, Vt., (by Rev. A. L. Pratt), 30 June, 1861 Nancy Taylor Johnson Spaulding (b. Bradford, Vt., 16 April, 1840, adopted dau. of Uriel & Elizabeth "Eliza " (Dewely) Spaulding of Quechee).
T. O. SeaverThomas attended the village school in Cavendish for one year before his parents decided to move to Pomfret, Vt. and he was compelled to leave his schoolmates behind and move north with his parents. He attended Prep school at the Green Mountain Academy in So. Woodstock, graduating in 1855. He attended Tufts University from 1855-6 and then Norwich University from 1856-8. He was admitted to Union College at Schenectady, NY, where he graduated, A.B. in June of 1859. Norwich University bestowed an honorary degree on Colonel Seaver in 1910 for his work as a soldier and a Judge of Vermont.
When the Civil War commenced, at the age of 28 years, Tom entered service at Newbury, Vt. mustered in 16 July, 1861, and was chosen as a Captain of Co. "F ", Third Vermont Regiment. He served in this Regiment from June, 1861 to July, 1864. On 13 Aug., 1861, he was promoted to Major. On 17 Sept., 1862, he was commissioned Lieutenant Colonel and on 13 Jan., 1863 he reached the rank of Colonel.
The following are extracts from battle reports, cited in Colonel Seaver's award papers, found of record: From report of Brigadier General William T. H. Brooks dated 9 July, 1862, of actions at Garnett's and Golding's Farms, Battle of Savage Station, and engagement at White Oak Swamp Bridge. "On the 29th, the brigade left its camp near Golding's farm as part of the division, to make the change of base. After passing Savage Station en route for the White Oak, the division was ordered to return to that point on account of an attack being made by the enemy. The brigade was formed in this order: The Fifth Vermont, Lt. Col. Grant, in line on the right; The Sixty Vt., Col. Lord deployed to the left; The Second Vermont, Col. Whiting in column of division in support of the Fifty; the Third Vermont, Lt. Col. Veazey in column in support of the Sixth. In this manner, the brigade entered the woods that bound the plain to the left and south of the station. After advancing through a dense wood, preceded by two companies of the Second Vermont under Maj. Walbridge, about one and a half miles, we came upon the enemy and a brisk fire of musketry was opened on both sides and kept up until darkness seemed to terminate the action. The Fifth Vt., Lt. Col. Grant, debauched from the woods into an open field where they found a large regiment of the enemy posted which they routed in gallant style. As soon as the firing commenced, the Second and Third which were in column, soon deployed and got hotly engaged with the enemy, as well as the two regiments that were originally in line. The conduct of the troops in this action was generally very commendable. Of those that came under my own eye, I take pleasure in mentioning the names of Col. Lord, Lt. Col. Grant, Lt. Col. Blunt, Lt. Col. Veasey, Lt. Col. Joyce, and Major Seaver, Major Tuttle, Major Stowell of the Ninth Vermont, on duty with the Fifty, Capt. Johnson and Lt. Bliss, Second Vermont as being exceedingly active in leading on the men and keeping up those disposed to struggle."
From report of Gen. L. A. Grant, commanding 2nd brigade, 2nd division, 6th army corps, dated May 6, 1863, of the part taken by the 2nd brigade in the Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia: "In the meantime the Third Vermont, Col. T. O. Seaver and the Fourth Vt., Col. C. B. Stoughton, came to the support of the Second Vermont in fine style, gaining the top of the hill considerably to the left of the point first taken by the Second Vermont. When the Third Vermont gained the first crest, a rebel regiment in front opened a volley of musketry, which was promptly returned by Colonel Seaver." Colonel Seaver led his regiment at Fredericksburg 3 May, 1863, and in the desperate attempt to carry the Marye's Heights. A portion of the heights was held for a short time, with the loss of only one man killed and six wounded.
From report of General L. A. Grant dated May 9, 1863 of the part taken by the same brigade in the battle near Bank's Ford, Virginia, May 4, 1863: "As soon as the firing had ceased, I formed the brigade in a new line in a strong position in the road and prepared to repel any attack. The regiments in this new line were formed from left to right in the following order: The Fifty and Sixth Vermont, the Twenty-sixth New Jersey, and the Third, Second, and Fourth Vermont. The Fifty and two companies of the Sixth Vermont were deployed as skirmishers, the left resting on the river. The other regiments, respectively, threw out a company of skirmishers to cover their own front. Thus formed, the brigade held the front while the balance of the corps fell back to the river near Bank's Ford. The brigade then slowly retired, its skirmishers, under command of Colonel Seaver, following. Upon arriving near the Ford, the brigade formed a new line of battle and sent skirmishers far to the front (which had now become our rear). There was some skirmishing, and the Second, Third and Sixth Vermont Regiments were sent out to support the skirmish line. The balance of the corps having crossed the river, these three regiments and the skirmishers followed. To Colonel T. O. Seaver, Third Vermont Volunteers, acting as general officer of the day, is due the credit of bringing off the three last-named regiments. I cannot fail, however, to speak in the highest terms of praise of Colonels James H. Walbridge, Second Vermont Volunteers; T. O. Seaver, Third Vermont Volunteers, C. B. Stoughton, Fourth Vermont Volunteers, E. L. Barney, Sixty Vermont Volunteers, and Lt. Cols. Jr. R. Lewis, Fifty Vermont Volunteers... "
From report of Brigadier General Albion P. Howe, commanding 2nd division, 6th army corps, dated May 10, 1863, of the operations of that division from May 2nd to May 5, 1863, and particularly of the part taken in the assault near Fredericksburg, May 3, 1863: "About 11 a.m. on the 3rd, I received notice from the commanding officer of the 6th corps that he was about to attack the enemy's position between Hazel Run and Fredericksburg, and wished me to assist. I immediately formed three storming columns, the first column commanded by General Neill, composed of the Seventh Maine, Lieutenant Colonel Connor; the Seventy-seventh New York, Lieutenant Colonel French; the Thirty-third New York, Colonel Taylor, and a portion of the Twenty-first New Jersey, Lieutenant Colonel Mettler. The second column under the command of Colonel Grant, acting brigadier general, was composed of the second Vermont, Colonel Walbridge; the Sixth Vermont, Colonel Barney, and the Twenty-sixth New Jersey, Colonel Morrison. The third column was composed of the Third Vermont, Colonel Seaver; The Fourth Vermont, Colonel Stoughton, and a portion of the Twenty-first New Jersey, Colonel Van Houten, led by Colonel Seaver of the Third Vermont. I also placed the division artillery in favorable range, and where it could have an effective fire upon the enemy's works, at the same time allowing the most practicable lines of advance for our assaulting columns, as that they would not interfere with the line of artillery fire. As soon as the fire was heard on my right, I opened by artillery fire with full force, and advanced the two columns under Neill and Grant with the bayonet, upon Cemetery Hill. This point was gallantly carried without any check to our columns. From this point, Neill's and Grant's columns were moved to assault on our right, the main works on Marye's Hill. I at once brought all the division artillery to bear on the works on those heights, and advanced the column led by Colonel Seaver to make an assault on our left of the same work. Neill's column charged and successfully carried the strong covered way leading from the first work on Marye's Heights to Hazel Run, and then threw itself to the right and rear of the work. Grant's point of assault was on our right and front, while Seaver's was on our left. The enemy kept up his artillery and infantry fire upon our columns, doing some execution, but wholly failing to check any one of them. Each of our columns gallantly dashed on and carried with the bayonet the first work, and then successively the three other works on the heights, taking two stands of colors, all of the armament of the work except one section of a field battery, some 200 prisoners and all the enemy's camp equipage. ... I desire especially to mention General Neill and Colonels Grant and Seaver for the gallant and intrepid manner in which they led the storming columns to the assault. Nothing has been more handsomely or successfully done. "
From report of General L. A. Grant, commanding 2nd brigade, 2nd division, 6th army corps, relative to action at Rappahannock River, Virginia, June 9, 1863: "The Twenty-sixth New Jersey came gallantly to the support of the Fifth and did well, but it is believed the Fifth cleared the rifle-pits. The Third Vermont, Colonel Seaver; the Fourth Vermont, Colonel Stoughton; the Second Vermont, Colonel Walbridge, also crossed in boats and gallantly supported the regiments already across. The rebels were driven across the plain into the woods. One bridge was soon completed and the Sixth Vermont, Colonel Barney, also crossed. Our positions were taken and are still held. It is impossible at this time to give particular instances of dashing gallantry, though there were many. It was quick work and splendidly executed. "
From report of General L. A. Grant, commanding 1st Vermont brigade, 6th army corps, dated August 30, 1864 of the operation of that brigade near Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia: "May 10th, the brigade still occupied its fortified position, and the Fourth regiment held the skirmish line until afternoon. Our skirmish line was advanced and the enemy's driven back to his line of works. In this skirmish, the Fourth regiment received high commendation. In the afternoon the Fourth Regiment was relieved by four companies of the Third regiment under Capt. Kenesson. An attack upon the enemy's works in our front was planned and the command of the attacking column was given to Colonel (now Brigadier General) Upton. I was ordered to send three regiments under command of a proper officer to report to Colonel Upton. Accordingly I sent the Second Vermont, Lieutenant Colonel S. E. Pingree; Fifth Vermont Major Dudley, and the Sixth Vermont, Lt. Colonel O. A. Hale, all under the command of Colonel T. O. Seaver. The charging column was composed of several lines of battle of three regiments each; the three Vermont regiments being placed by Colonel Upton in the rear line. The charge was at first successful. The first line carried the first line of rebel works and took over 1,000 prisoners, but were driven back by the enemy. The Vermont regiment under Colonel Seaver advanced, and under a most galling fire, occupied the rebel works while the other regiments of the attacking column fell back. Orders were given for all to fall back, but it failed to reach a portion of the Second Regiment, and some from each of the others who remained in the works obstinately holding them against all attacks of the enemy until late in the evening, refusing to fall back until they received positive orders to do so. The four companies of Third Vermont on the skirmish line, advanced with the attacking column, and a portion of them remained in the rebel works until the last. After the charge, the skirmish line was re-established. "
There is no doubt that Colonel Seaver's bravery spilled over to his men and he distinguished himself in many of the subsequent bloody battles fought by the Union Army of the Potomac including those at Antietam, Lees Mills, Gettysburg, Spotsylvania, and in the Battle of the Wilderness under General Grant. From Jan., 25, 1864, Colonel Seaver was in Vermont on recruiting service and took a leave of absence for 15 days from April 8, 1864 to return to his home in Vermont. He was appointed Brigadier General of the Third Brigade in the Vermont State Militia in the aftermath of the Saint Albans Raid of Oct., 1864. He was mustered out at the age of 31 years, at Burlington, Vt., as Colonel with the field and staff of his Regiment, 27 July, 1864.
Colonel Seaver held his military rank for a number of years and essentially commanded the militia for quite a few years in the postwar period. He was awarded an A.M. by Norwich University later in life. On the 16th of March, 1892, Theodore S. Peck, Adjutant General of the State of Vermont, petitioned the Secretary of War for a Medal of Honor to be issued to Colonel Thomas Seaver "3d Vt. Volunteer Infantry, for distinguished and gallant conduct at the storming of Marye's Heights, May 3, 1863. ... On this and almost every field of action in which the "Old Vermont Brigade" participated, Colonel Seaver distinguished himself...." A letter sent back to General Peck dated 25 March, 1892 informed: "... the Secretary of War has awarded a medal of honor to Colonel Thomas O. Seaver, Third Regiment Vermont Volunteers, for distinguished gallantry in action near Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia, May 10, 1863..." On 8 April, 1892, the medal was issued and a letter sent to Colonel Seaver at Woodstock. The letter read in part: "... For so long a record, embracing numerous acts of distinguished gallantry, it is difficult to select that one for which a medal should be awarded, as being the most distinguished of all. I respectfully suggest that General L. A. Grant select himself the special act of distinguished bravery for which this medal should be awarded, since he, from personal knowledge, is best able to make that selection.... the papers having been submitted to the Asst. Secretary of War were endorsed by him as follows: 'Let the medal issue for distinguished gallantry in action near Spotsylvania Court House, Virginia, May 10, 1864.'"
Life After the Civil War: At the close of the war, Colonel Seaver resumed the study of law at Woodstock and was admitted to the Windsor County Bar in December, 1864. He was living in Cavendish for a time afterwards and represented many good people of the town in all kinds of civil and criminal cases — the court records convey his skill as a defender of just causes. He was working under the firm name of Dean & Seaver. He was also the able Registrar of the Windsor County Probate Court— his artistic style of handwriting preserved in the many Court records. At the time of the 1870 census of Cavendish Colonel Seaver was living in Cavendish Village (District #7) with his wife and two daughters. His real estate was valued at $1,500, showing that he lived quite modestly, and his personal property was valued at $2,000. Living next door to the Seaver family at this time was John L. and Sarah Johnson. Valeria French of Proctorsville wrote a letter to her daughter Jarusha Day on 26 May, 1870 "... May 30 is to be observed much the same as last year. Oration will be by Colonel Seaver." Colonel Seaver was frequently asked to participate and speak at many patriotic holiday observances throughout the state. His speeches were eloquent, his sincerity of manner quite contagious on the crowds that gathered. His humble character made him excessively popular among the citizens of Cavendish.
In 1873, Colonel Seaver went to Woodstock to live and practice law. He served in the capacity of Windsor County States' Attorney from 1880-1882. When Judge Porter died in 1886, Colonel Seaver was appointed Judge of the Probate Court. He was elected for successive terms in this capacity for as long as he lived— honestly, integrity, dedication to duty— all very much apart of his everyday pattern of conducting himself. His niece, Gertrude Seaver wrote in 1963, that "they tried to enlist him for service in the Spanish-American War, and offered him the rank of Brigadier General if he would join, but he felt he had done enough in the soldiering line."
On 8 April, 1892, he received the Congressional Medal of Honor from the United States Congress for distinguished gallantry in action near Spotsylvania Courthouse, Virginia, 10 May, 1864. [Citation: "At the head of three regiments and under a most galling fire, attacked and occupied the enemy's works."]
A Crime Committed: On 22 August, 1897, Judge Seaver was shot at Woodstock while standing on the piazza of his residence, by William W. Lawrence because of the appointment by the Judge of a guardian to one of Lawrence's children. One shot pierced the right lung and lodged in the shoulder blade; another passed harmlessly through a coat sleeve. Lawrence was arrested on the spot, tried and sentenced to the state prison for sixteen years. When they searched him at the jail they found a vial of morphine, and it was decided he was a morphine addict and explained why, he had at times, appeared to be mentally unbalanced. Lawrence was soon transferred to the Insane Asylum at Waterbury. The trouble for Judge Seaver began in 1896 when Mrs. Lawrence left her husband and child and applied to Judge Seaver for the appointment of a guardian over the girl, who was about aged seven. Joseph C. Enright, then State's Attorney was appointed. Judge Seaver granted an injunction restraining Mr. Lawrence from interfering with his daughter in any way. At the last session of court, Mrs. Lawrence petitioned for a divorce on the ground of intolerable severity and refusal to support. The case was tried in Windsor County court before Judge Start and was dismissed because of ‘insufficient evidence.' The injunction was removed and Lawrence was given permission to see his child. Lawrence conducted his own defense, refusing counsel. That morning, Mr. Lawrence called upon Judge Seaver and entered into a hot discussion. The Judge ordered Lawrence to leave the house and followed the man to the door, when Lawrence drew his revolver and fired the two shots. Judge Seaver survived, although his life was never the same again with physical disability and periods of intense pain and discomfort in movement. The trial of Mr. Lawrence took place in Windsor Court the February term, 1898. Among the twelve members serving on the jury was Ira A. Belknap of Cavendish, and Fred E. Wilson of Chester. The courtroom was full and it appeared that many of the people sympathized with the defendant. The feeling was that Mr. Lawrence had been deprived of seeing his little daughter because Judge Seaver was protecting his un-divorced wife in his house performing the duties of a domestic servant. Mr. Lawrence took the stand and gave a history of himself. He was 42 years old in May and moved to Woodstock in 1893. He told about the guardianship proceedings and how he went to Judge Seaver to know if the guardian had filed a bond, but he got no satisfaction and was told it was none of his business. Then after the divorce suit of his wife was heard and dismissed and the injunction against him seeing his daughter dissolved, he supposed he had a right to the custody of his child. When he went to the guardian's house he learned that the child had been removed to Judge Seaver's house. He said when he went to the Judge's house, the Judge was abusive to him verbally and threatened him with bodily harm and he shot at the Judge because the Judge came after him down the stairs. After he shot the Judge he went himself to the Jail and surrendered himself a prisoner and gave up his pistol. He said for more than a week he hadn't slept or eaten on account of his domestic trouble and was very weak. But it was found out during cross examination that Lawrence had sent a postal card to Judge Seaver and threatened to shoot him if his child was not returned to him within 48 hours, and that the pistol and cartridges were purchased by Lawrence the evening before the attack on the Judge. It took the jury only four hours to come back with a verdict of "guilty of assault with intent to kill."
Under the Act of June 27, 1890, Colonel Seaver, age 58 yrs and of Woodstock, applied for the first time for a invalid pension for his war services on 30 July, 1892. On 16 Nov., 1904, Thomas Seaver (age 70), applied for an increase in pension because of "total blindness of left eye, and old age" and received an increase to $12 per month. An Affidavit filed in support of this claim by Thomas Smith (age 65) and Edwin K. Slack (age 58), stated: "That we are well and intimately acquainted with the above named applicant, T. O. Seaver, and have been acquainted for many years last past and know that prior to 1 Aug., 1892, the time of filing his first application, he had lost the sight of the left eye and that the vision has never been restored. And we also depose and sat that while the above named T. O. Seaver was standing on his own porch, he received a pistol shot wound in the right side, the weapon being in the hands of one William Lawrence, a morphine fiend. For this crime, Lawrence was sent to State's prison for a term of sixteen years and Judge Seaver was found blameless in the matter, and from our long and intimate acquaintance with said T. O. Seaver, we can and do say that he is a peaceable temperate and exemplary citizen and that he has no vicious habits and we further declare that we have no interest in said case and are not concerned in its prosecution." The application was allowed and pension was increased to $15 per month on 20 Feb., 1907. On 4 Jan., 1909, Colonel Seaver, aged 75 years, applied for an increase in his military pension, "on account of age, at the rate of $20 per month" predicated upon the Act of Feb. 6, 1907. It was issued under Pension Certificate No. 985346.
Attorney Thomas O. Seaver died suddenly, around 9:00 a.m., at Woodstock, 11 July, 1912 (age 78 years, 6 months, 18 days.) The death certificate states cause of death: "acute dilatation of heart, arterial sclerosis, found dead." From his obituary: "... he had been a most useful citizen and well respected by his friends, neighbors, and peers, not only in Woodstock, but throughout Windsor County. He took great interest in public affairs and served on many boards and committees of benevolent organizations in the town of Woodstock. His sudden death was a great shock to the community where he was most beloved."
The widow Nancy, at the age of 72 years, applied for a pension on his service 28 Aug., 1912. She was living in Woodstock (post office address, Taftsville) at the home place. Her pension application was accompanied by a co-sponsored affidavit from Eva. A. Seaver (age 64), sister-in-law, and Elida B. Jackman (age 34). It stated: "... that we have been well and personally acquainted with the above named soldier and applicant for at least twenty-five years, having lived neighbors all this time and know that they have lived together as husband and wife all these years, that neither of them have been married since our acquaintance otherwise than to each other, and that she still remains his widow.." Nancy was awarded certificate No. 749755 at $20 per month in pension.
Nancy died at Woodstock, 1 Feb., 1917. They are both buried in the River Street cemetery, Woodstock, Vt.

1. Mary, b.-1875, d. 1876
2. Ethel Louise, b. 30 Aug., 1862. She m. 18 May, 1892, Dr. Richard S. Ely (b. Cavendish, Vt. 20 Dec., 1863, son of Francis Wayland & Sarah E. (Hill) Ely of Cavendish).
3. Gertrude E., b. 1 July, 1865. She was a school teacher, and d. unm., 22 Sept., 1887
4. Kenneth, b. Aug., 1877. Kenneth m. Mabel Bright of Pittsburgh, Pa. (b. Oakmont, PA, March, 1863, dau. of --).

See also a biographical sketch off-site.