Historical Marker: William H. Powell (WV)

Location: Rt 2 Clifton, WV
Photo by: Michelle Seletyn Dolin
Title: William H. Powell
Inscription: Born 1825 in Wales, he emigrated to U.S. as a child and was working in iron industry when war erupted. Commissioned captain of 2nd (West) Virginia Cavalry at Ironton, OH, and won Medal of Honor for actions at Sinking Creek Valley in 1862. Wounded, captured and imprisoned, 1863, and released, 1864. Brevetted major general late in war. He died in 1904 and was buried in Chicago.
Location: WV 62, Clifton
Source: http://www.wvculture.org/history/markers/markers.html
WHPowell.png
This is from the book “Ohio in the War – Her Statesmen, Generals, and Soldiers Volume I” by Whitelaw Reid. The book was published in 1868. Photo is between pages 908 and 909.
Old map of Kanawha Valley
Early in the Civil War, Powell spent most of his time in the Kanawha River Valley. During the Kanawha Valley Campaign, Powell led the advance guard of cavalry commanded by Colonel John Paxton, which successfully prevented the Union army commanded by Colonel Joseph Lightburn from being surrounded.

William Henry Powell (May 10, 1825 – December 26, 1904) was an American soldier who fought for the Union in the American Civil War. He was a leader in the iron and nail business before the war, and his leadership abilities proved useful in the military. Powell began as a captain, and quickly ascended to higher roles in the cavalry, including commanding a regiment, a brigade, and then a division. Powell was awarded his country’s highest award for bravery during combat, the Medal of Honor, for heroism at Sinking Creek, Virginia, when, as leader of a group of 22 men, he captured an enemy camp and took over 100 prisoners. This was accomplished without the loss of any of his men on November 26, 1862. He was honored with the award on July 22, 1890.

uniformed soldiers on horses using sabers to attack enemy camp
Image credit: By J. W. Jones – The Story of American Heroism
(illustration from page 187 of book), Public Domain.

In July 1863, Powell was shot while leading cavalry in Wytheville, Virginia. Although surgeons on both sides of the conflict believed his wound was fatal, Powell survived—and became a prisoner of war. He was later exchanged, and returned to his command of the 2nd West Virginia Volunteer Cavalry Regiment. In 1864, Powell commanded brigades while fighting mostly in the Shenandoah Valley under the direct supervision of General William W. Averell in an army commanded by General Philip Sheridan. Eventually, Powell replaced Averell as division commander. Powell led cavalry in numerous battles, including Moorefield, Opequon, and Fisher’s Hill. He resigned as a brigadier general in January 1865 to tend to family health issues. He was later brevetted to major general. Powell returned to his original profession working in the iron making industry, and was active in the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization of Union veterans of the American Civil War.

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The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
Wheeling, West Virginia
25 Jul 1863, Sat  •  Page 3

In a letter sent to headquarters in 1864, General George Crook said “Colonel Powell has served with me often since the commencement of the war. He has distinguished himself in every battle he was engaged in under me. He has been recommended by me on several occasions, for promotion. I regard him as one of the best cavalry officers I have ever seen in the service.”

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The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
Wheeling, West Virginia
07 Aug 1863, Fri  •  Page 3
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The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
Wheeling, West Virginia
11 Aug 1863, Tue  •  Page 1
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The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
Wheeling, West Virginia
12 Aug 1863, Wed  •  Page 2
Libby Prison Nov 10 1863 page 1 -
The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
Wheeling, West Virginia
10 Nov 1863, Tue  •  Page 1
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The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
Wheeling, West Virginia
24 Dec 1863, Thu  •  Page 3
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The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
Wheeling, West Virginia
08 Feb 1864, Mon  •  Page 2
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The Wheeling Daily Intelligencer
Wheeling, West Virginia
08 Feb 1864, Mon  •  Page 2

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