Biography of Henry, John and Cyrus Powell
The information on Charles Powell was sent to me by Dee Godkins (email address - firstname.lastname@example.org) and was passed on to her by Fleta Aday (email address - Powell@cswnet.com) one of three sisters who have been reseaching the Powell family for a very long time. The connection between these Powells and the Powells in my family are, as of right now, not proven.
Unfortunatly other than what is posted, I do not have any further information on this line.
The Rebels Henry, John & Cyrus Powell
by Fleta Aday
Our Powell family on the northern edge of
Missouri had lived in a area surrounded by
strife about the slavery question for many
years prior to the outbreak of the Civil War.
The state of Missouri played a central part in this national question. Antislavery forces demanded Congress keep slavery out of the new territories of the United States. In 1818, when Missouri first applied for admission to the Union as a state, there were exactly thirteen slave states and thirteen free states. Missouri was denied statehood because it's admission as a slave state would upset the balance of power. During the next session of Congress, Maine applied for admission to the Union and the Missouri Compromise was worked out. This Compromise admitted Maine as a free state and authorized Missouri to form a state constitution. The compromise also banned slavery from the Louisiana Purchase north of the southern boundary of Missouri, except for Missouri. In 1821 Missouri became a state. Although most newcomers to the state did not own slaves, Missouri settlers were largely Southern and favored making their own decisions about slavery and other questions.
In 1854 Congress repealed the Missouri Compromise with passage of the Kansas-Nebraska act. This bill created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska with a provision for "popular sovereignty." This provision stated that all questions of slavery in the new territories were to be decided by the settlers. Many Missouri slave owners, including Colonel Joseph Shelby, led groups of Missourians into Kansas to vote in elections trying to preserve slavery in that state. Violence along the Kansas-Missouri border over the slave question was a prelude to the great destruction and violence of the Civil War.
In 1859 David Powell and his brother James Walton Powell sold their land in Schuyler County and set out for Texas. I do not know if they were just seeking a new unsettled frontier or searching for a territory more sympathetic to their southern beliefs. In December, 1859, Henry Powell deeded his farmland to his two sons, Jacob and Andrew Jackson. It is possible he also was planning to leave Missouri.
In February, 1861, John and Sarah Powell sold their land in Schuyler County to George W. D. Wade. We have always felt John was selling his land to prepare to join the War but we do not have a dated record of his service until the next year. His wife's father, Richard Kiff, had already left the area and it is possible John planned to follow Kiff south to avoid the war.
By April, 1861, when the first shots of War were fired, six southern states had seceded from the Union. When, on April 13, President Lincoln called for troops from all states to enforce the nation's laws, four more states left the Union. Missouri did not secede but became a hotbed of controversy. Although they may not have favored slavery, many Missourians did support states rights and strongly opposed Lincoln's efforts to force the Confederate states back into the Union.
At this time Brigadier General Daniel M. Frost, a strong supporter of the south and commander of the Missouri State Militia in St. Louis, was encamped on the outskirts of that city with a small Militia force. Another southern sympathizer, Claiborne F. Jackson, was Governor. On May 10, 1861, Captain Nathaniel Lyon, commander of the Federal Troops in St. Louis, entered Camp Jackson where General Frost and his men were camped and took the entire force captive. This act was seen by many loyal Missourians as the US Army revolting against their own state, for their Legislature had only two months prior to this voted to remain in the Union.
The Missouri Legislature in Jefferson City immediately passed a bill calling for full mobilization of the State Militia. Governor Jackson appointed Sterling Price to be Major General of this force. A conference was arranged between the two factions at St. Louis; Governor Jackson and General Price representing Missouri and Nathaniel Lyon representing the federal government. When Governor Jackson refused to provide troops to participate in the War on the Union side, Lyon closed the conference with the words, "This means war." Jackson returned to Jefferson City and called for fifty thousand militia to repel Lyon's attack. Abandoning the Capitol to advancing Union forces, Jackson made his stand at Booneville, fifty miles up the Missouri River from Jefferson City. There, on Sunday, June 16, Jackson's State Militia engaged Lyon's troops and the war in Missouri had actually begun.
The 1860 census of Schuyler County reports 6658 White people, 39 Colored people, and 46 Salves. There were 7 frame and 27 log school houses counted. Seven hundred men from Schuyler County served in the Confederacy. Col. Joseph C. Porter spent the summer of 1862 recruiting for his Northeast Missouri Cavalry all across northern Missouri.
On July 25 (no year given but the unit was not formed until 1862), Henry and John Powell, of Schuyler County, enlisted in the Northeast Missouri Cavalry, Confederate States of America, Captain James Leeper's Company (Company H) for the period of one year. On August 25, 1862, Henry and John Powell, of Schuyler County, both enlisted in Clark's Regiment Missouri Infantry, Company B, for one year. John Powell's record states see also Clarksons Battalion Confederate Cavalry Independent Rangers, but I have not located this record. It may be that John joined Clarkson's Cavalry soon after he sold his land in 1861, but we would need to find this record with dates included to know that for sure. James N. Leeper of Schuyler County enlisted as a First Lt. in Company B of Clark's Regiment on July 17, 1862.
The book History of Schuyler County has an account of an attack on Union troops of the Enrolled Missouri Militia in the Schuyler County Courthouse by Schuyler County Confederate forces consisting of infantry led by Capt. William Searcy and Cavalry led by Capt. Leeper on Sunday, September 6, 1862. On nearing the square the Confederate force shot and wounded Henry Hilton, a young man who was not a member of any military force. Henry Hilton was a son of John Hilton and probably Henry Powell's nephew. Finding they could not oust the Federals in the courthouse, the Confederates retreated. Capt. Searcy was wounded in the skirmish and left for dead along the road out of town. He was captured and later executed by the Federals.
Capt. Leeper's involvement in this skirmish indicates it is likely Henry and John Powell participated in this attack on the County Courthouse. After this incident the men involved were branded guerillas by the Federal government.
Clark's Regiment was commanded by Col. John B. Clark, Jr. (later promoted to Brig. General). Company B was commanded by Capt. W. T. Bond. J. A. McCulley and W. M. Montgomery were two others from Schuyler County in Company B.
The records for James Jones in Co. H, Clark's Regiment show he was captured November 17, 1862 at Camden, Missouri. He said on November 10 his unit swam their horses across the Missouri between Booneville and Rocheport. He fought in the battles of Drywood and Lexington. Columbus Palmer of the Northeast Missouri Cavalry was captured in Saline County on October 8. He states they were "going south under Col. Clark in Clarkson's Co." He said 40 men started South but only 30 got across the Missouri River in a skiff. The oars broke and they forded the river. Most of the Company turned back but three went on and were captured.
These and other records indicate that Clark and the
Northeast Missouri Cavalry started south in October
1862, to join forces with Confederate troops in
Arkansas. They were harassed all across Missouri by
Federal forces, engaged in several skirmishes, and
several members were captured at various locations.
By late November they were in Arkansas and had
joined the forces of General T. C. Hindman near Van Buren. The army was only partly armed, poorly equipped, and still in the process of organization. General Marmaduke commanded Hindman's cavalry, with Colonel Joseph Shelby in charge of one force he called his "Iron Brigade." The infamous Quantrill's Raiders with the James and Younger brothers also rode with Marmaduke. At the end of the War Cyrus Powell stated he fought under Colonel Shelby, so he could have been riding with Shelby at this time while his brother and father were marching with Hindman.
On November 28, General Blunt and five thousand Union soldiers attacked Marmaduke at Cane Hill, just south of Fayetteville. Marmaduke, heavily out numbered, decided to entrap Blunt's forces in the Boston Mountains. He selected a road into the mountains hemmed by brushy hills and gulches. As the last rebel horseman passed out of sight, Blunt followed down the narrow lane. Marmaduke dismounted his men and arranged his forces so they could fire in volleys against the Federals and then retreat through their own lines, leaving Blunt to face a fresh line of loaded muskets. Shelby, with his trade mark plumed black hat and sorrel horse, rode always behind the firing line to hold it firm.
Fifteen miles down the road, having fought every foot of the way, Marmaduke sent back a flag of truce to gather the dead and wounded. During the night both sides withdrew. Blunt settled down at Cane Hill, and Shelby and Marmaduke sank deep into the gloom of the Boston Mountains.
Hindman decided to attack Blunt at Cane Hill. Hindman's army was concentrated at Mazzard Prairie between present Fort Chaffee and Fort Smith. On December 3, 1862, the Confederate army, with some 12,000 men and 22 guns, crossed the Arkansas at Van Buren and marched north. The wagon train was left at Van Buren and ammunition for only one day's battle was taken along. After dark on December 5 Hindman's men emerged from the rough country below Cane Hill. Footsoldiers, artillery, horses, and cavalry, including Shelby's Iron Brigade coiled snakelike in long lines from the woods.
Blunt, receiving word of Hindman's intentions, telegraphed General Herron at Springfield to join him. On December 6 Herron had reached Fayetteville and General Hindman was at Marrow's farm just eight miles south of Prairie Grove. The Federals had new equipment and had marched down the wire road, one of the few good routes through the Ozarks. The Confederates, on the other hand, had required five days to travel 50 painful miles. They came through steep mountains and gullies, up a winding creek bed where the road in places crossed the creek twenty-five times in one mile. Draft animals were so poor that the guns often had to be pushed by soldiers. The Confederates suffered from insufficient rations, and at the last no rations, lack of shoes, socks and warm clothing.
Hindman changed his tactics and decided to destroy Herron's forces before the two Federal armies could unite. A small cavalry brigade was to distract Blunt at Cane Hill. At 3 A. M. December 7, the Confederate infantry, with Clark's Regiment including Henry and John Powell, was ordered to advance toward Prairie Grove and Herron's forces. Hindman stopped when he reached Prairie Grove Church, on a ridge overlooking Illinois creek. Hindman placed Frost's and Parsons's Missourians (with Clark's regiment under command of B. G. Roan placed behind Frost as reserves), Stand Watie's Indians, his Arkansaw and Texas troops, and Marmaduke's cavalry, eight thousand men in all, along a two-mile line on the ridge to await Herron's six thousand weary marchers. Blunt, with at least eight thousand more Federals, was only eight miles away. As Herron's artillery reached Illinois Creek, Hindman's first shell burst over them. Herron correctly assumed Blunt would hear the bombardment and come running. Private Eli Cooper, our Great-Great-Grandfather, rode with the Eighth Missouri Cavalry in Herron's Army.
Now facing the united armies, Hindman was hopelessly out numbered and out gunned. Blunt and Herron inflicted heavy damage with their superior artillery. The battle raged fiercely with many charges and retreats, but nightfall found the Confederates still in command of the ridge. A few last shells blazed across the night sky catching several haystacks on fire. Wounded men had crept into them for warmth, only to parish in the flames. Hindman reported, "There was no place of shelter upon the field...During five hours, shell, solid shot, grape and canister, and storms of bullets swept the entire ground."
Under cover of darkness, a truce was arranged and, with blankets wrapped around his cannon wheels to muffle the sounds, Hindman retreated. His hungry soldiers had not eaten for a whole day and were almost out of ammunition.
Dawn found only a small burial detail of Confederates including Shelby's horsemen on the field while the main army was well down the road to Van Buren. Some of Herron's men, exhausted from their long march, had died of exposure in the December cold, but the worst horror was the burnt bodies in the ashes of the haystacks.
Hindman withdrew to Van Buren with his weary troops. Marmaduke's cavalry was sent one hundred miles east to Lewisburg, near the present site of Morrilton. The starving, ragged and unpaid Confederate troops were deserting in great numbers. The records of Clark's regiment show many who deserted or were captured, some seemly on purpose, during this time.
On December 27, at three o'clock in the morning, General Herron and General Bunt marched on Van Buren. Three steam-boats of Confederate supplies were burned. Hindman's main army camped on the other side of the river at Fort Smith, without rations and ammunition, retreated down the Arkansas River. Clark's unit lists man after man left wounded at the hospital in Fort Smith December 27. Rain soaked the roads and chilled the hungry men. Ten days later the remnant of Hindman's army reached Little Rock. Henry and John Powell both survived severe hardships to appear on the muster roll of Co. B of Clark's Regiment in Little Rock in March and April 1863.
But the war proved too much for Henry. The record states: I certify that I have carefully examined the said Henry Powell of Captain Bond's Co. and found him incapable of performing the duties of a soldier because of extreme old age and impaired vision. The said soldier is now in his sixty-first (61st) year and is of no benefit to the service. Discharged this 25th day of March 1863 at Fort Pleasant Ark. Brig? Clark's Regt. Ark. Signed, W. C. Boon (Surgeon)
On his discharge, Henry drew pay from 23 August 1862 to 26 March 1863 "being 7 months and 3 days at eleven dollars per month" ($78.10), for "traveling from Fort Pleasant Ark. the place of discharge to Scotland County, Mo. the place of enrolment, being six hundred and fifty miles at ten cents per mile" ($65.00), and "for clothing not drawn in kind" ($38.07). He received $181.17 total, but this was likely Confederate Script that would have been worthless after he left Little Rock.
Henry had to travel on foot through Federal lines subsisting off the land the 650 miles back to his family in Schuyler County. Surely by this time he was sick of war. When he returned home we think he took his family to Nebraska until after the war ended.
While Hindman camped at Little Rock, Marmaduke and Shelby lead a series of raids along the border zone into Missouri, but the Confederacy never again marshalled enough strength to wage a full scale attack on the Federals in Arkansas and Missouri.
The April muster roll for Clark's Regiment is the last record we have for John Powell. Many soldiers in Clark's unit are listed as deserters, captured, dying of disease including typhoid, cholera and camp fever, wounded and killed. John Powell's record gives no indication of his fate--nothing about desertion, disease, capture or death.
On August 23, 1863, General D. M. Frost, commanding officer of Confederate forces defending Little Rock, Arkansas requested permission of General Sterling Price to move Clark's Brigade to a new location. When Little Rock fell to Federal forces on September 10 Clark and his men were guarding the road by Shoal Ford from Redoubt No. 1. Since there is no mention of the fate of John Powell in his record, I believe he was still with this unit at the fall of Little Rock.
In the ensuing confusion of yet another Confederate retreat, the fate of John Powell is left to speculation. The one certainty is that he did not make it home like his father. Sometime between April 1863 and the end of the war he perished, either as a result of disease or a casualty of war. We have yet to find an official record of his death.
The hardships and cruelties of war that Henry and John Powell endured together help explain the responsibility Henry showed toward Sarah Powell, John's widow after the war.
In May, 1865, Cyrus Powell took the Amnesty Oath. The record states he surrendered May 23, 1865 at Lexington, Missouri. He says he was a Private in Shelby's Brigade and that his residence before the war was Schuyler County, Missouri. There is no record of the date he enlisted, but it is likely he was with Shelby at Prairie Grove. Cyrus survived to tell his children the thrilling tales of the life of a Rebel riding in Shelby's Iron Brigade on raid after raid against Union forces.
When first looking for Civil War records of
our Powell family, I expected to find them in
the ranks of the Union Army because they lived
so far north. When I learned they fought for the
Confederacy, I expected to find reluctant
soldiers pulled into a fight against their will.
The actual Confederate records of Henry,
John and Cyrus Powell shattered all those
illusions. Henry was sixty years old with eye
sight too poor to site a rifle when he and John
volunteered. Together they faced the rigors of
cold, hunger, and long forced marches with insufficient clothing and shoes to fight a horrendous battle over six hundred miles from their home. When Henry asked to be excused from service because of his old age, John fought on --to the death. Cyrus didn't give up until the bitter end, when there was no other choice.
These are not the records of casual soldiers drawn into a fight against their will. These are the records of Rebels to the core. However much we today may disagree with their ideas, these are the records of men fighting for a cause they believed in--a cause they were ready to die for. The record speaks--Henry, John, and Cyrus Powell, Rebels heart and soul.
Copyright © 1996 Fleta Aday