Commemorating the First World War Centennial in Kansas

Medal of Honor: George Seanor Robb

Our second Medal of Honor recipient was born May 18, 1887, at Assaria, Kansas.  1st Lt. George Seanor Robb entered the Army after graduating from Columbia University, and was a white officer in an African American unit.  It was not just any unit; it was the 369th Infantry, 93rd Division, known also as the “Harlem Rattlers” or the “Harlem Hellfighters.”  They built a strong record in World War I, despite biases against the regiment

Robb received his Medal for leading his platoon in an assault and being wounded at least three times.  He refused to leave his men despite the severity of his wounds.  When his commanding officer and two other officers were killed, he assumed command of the company.  Robb and his men held their ground.

George Robb's Purple Heart medal

George Robb’s Purple Heart medal

It was one of those actions that made George Robb.  He would return to Kansas, and among other things, served in the elected position of State Auditor.  He died in Topeka on May 14, 1972, and is buried in the Gypsum Hill Cemetery at Salina.

A complete account of the 369th Infantry and how George Robb received his Medal of Honor can be found in Harlem’s Rattlers and the Great War: The Undaunted 369th Regiment and the African American Quest for Equality, by Jeffrey T. Sammons and John H. Morrow.

Robb’s Medal of Honor and his bullet-damaged helmet can be seen on exhibit at the Kansas Museum of History in Topeka.  You can also read about his Purple Heart here:

http://www.kshs.org/kansapedia/cool-things-purple-heart-medal/10244

Blair Tarr is the Museum Curator of the Kansas State Historical Society. He oversees the three-dimensional collections of the Society, but has special interests in the Civil War, Wichita-made Valentine diners, and Leavenworth's Abernathy Furniture. In the last few years he has also done a lot of cramming on The Great War. He is a past president of the Kansas Museums Association and the Civil War Round Tables of both Kansas City and Eastern Kansas. He is currently a board member of the Heritage League of Greater Kansas City.

3 Comments

  1. Jeffrey T. Sammons

    Thanks Blair for the recognition of George S. Robb. He was a Great War hero and outstanding public servant. His papers at the Kansas State Historical Society are an invaluable resource on his life and the history of the 369th. and I appreciate the mention of “Harlem’s Rattlers and the Great War”.
    Jeffrey T. Sammons

  2. Blair Tarr

    Thank you, Jeffrey–be assured I am still trying to get some sort of exhibit on Robb, probably in the Reading Room of the Archives. Not sure we’ll make it.

  3. Blair Tarr

    Please note that Robb was one of “Pershing’s 100”: http://www.kansasww1.org/pershings-100/

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