Created By: Georgetown University
William Seach (1877-1978) was born in London, England. He immigrated to the United States some time before joining the Navy as an Ordinary Seaman in 1898. Assigned to the USS Newark at the start of the Rebellion, Seach served in the failed Seymour Relief Expedition. On four separate occasions during the expedition, Seach distinguished himself in action against Boxer troops. Awarded the Medal of Honor in 1901, he was delayed in receiving it by the assassination of President McKinley, but he eventually received the award in 1903 in a ceremony with President Roosevelt. He later onboard the troopship USS President Lincoln in the First World War. On May 31st, 1918, a German U-Boat torpedoed and sunk the transport. Seach survived but was briefly held as a prisoner of war. He retired from the Navy as a Lieutenant in 1921. He died in 1978 at the age of 101, the last surviving Medal of Honor Recipient from the Boxer Rebellion.
Medal of Honor Citation
"In action with the relief expedition of the Allied forces in China during the battles of 13, 20, 21, and 22 June 1900.
June 13: Seach and six others were cited for their courage in repulsing an attack by 300 Chinese Imperialist soldiers and Boxer militants with a bayonet charge, thus thwarting a planned massive attack on the entire force.
June 20: During a day-long battle, Seach ran across an open clearing, gained cover, and cleaned out nests of Chinese snipers.
June 21: During a surprise saber attack by Chinese cavalrymen, Seach was cited for defending gun emplacements.
June 22: Seach and others breached the wall of a Chinese fort, fought their way to the enemy's guns, and turned the cannon upon the defenders of the fort. Throughout this period and in the presence of the enemy, Seach distinguished himself by meritorious conduct."
Medal of Honor Recipients
William Seach represents one of 59 Medals of Honor awarded to American servicemembers during the Boxer Rebellion. Four of these were awarded to Army personnel, twenty-two to Navy sailors and thirty-three to Marines. The relatively high number of Medals of Honor awarded for a relatively short conflict (by comparison only 28 Medals of Honor have been award for the post-9/11 conflicts) reflects the role of the award prior to the First World War. Lacking other awards for bravery and merit (the Distinguish Service Cross, Navy Cross and Silver Star for example were established in WWI) the criteria for receiving a Medal of Honor was broader than it is today.
Nevertheless, the courage displayed by many servicemembers in the Boxer Rebellion was noteworthy. Twelve of the recipients are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. For a full listing and location of each, please refer to the ANC website or app.
Walk back to McKinley Drive and turn right. Pass the first turn off for Miles Drive and make a right turn at the next Miles Drive intersection. Continue on Miles Drive about 300 feet. On your right side will be the next set of tour stops. Look for a pair of monuments marked “Chaffee”. If you get to the end of the road you have gone too far.
This point of interest is part of the tour: The Story of the Boxer Rebellion at Arlington National Cemetery