Title: Medal of Honor, George W. Cutter, USS Powhatan (1850)
Accession #: NHHC 1957-2-BG
Size: 2 x 2.25
Location: Headquarters Artifact Collection, Naval History and Heritage Command
Obverse: Five pointed bronze star tipped with trefoils containing a crown of laurel and oak. In the center is Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom and warfare, standing with left hand resting on fasces and right hand holding a shield blazoned with the escutcheon of the United States. She repulses discord, represented by a male figure holding snakes. It is made of solid red brass, oxidized and buffed.
Reverse: Engraved "Personal Valor / George W. Cutter / Landsman / U.S.S. Powhatan / Norfolk /May 27 1872"
Citation for Award: On board the U.S.S. Powhatan, Norfolk, Va., 27 May 1872. Jumping overboard on this date, Cutter aided in saving one of the crew of that vessel from drowning.
Landsman Cutter and other shipmates jumped to the rescue of Seaman James Mitchell after he was knocked overboard and rendered unconscious. For this feat, Cutter was awarded the Medal of Honor. He may not have achieved the Medal of Honor for these actions using the standards of today. A committee in 1916 reviewed earlier medals to authenticate the validity of the actions of the medals awarded and established more restrictive guidelines for earning the highest medal for the US Military.