Utah Historical Quarterly Volume 15, Number 1-4, 1947

Page 115

WALTER HENRY POWELL 1842 - 1915 W a l t e r Henry Powell, the Major's younger brother, was born in Jackson, Ohio, in 1842. He received most of his education at Illinois Institute (Wheaton College) at Wheaton, Illinois. At the age of sixteen he left the farm and commenced teaching in a district school. He was engaged in this work until the outbreak of hostilities in the Civi1 W a r . He enlisted for a short term at Lacon, Illinois, in the home guards. In February, 1862, Walter Powell joined his brother's Battery F, 2nd Regiment, Illinois Light Artillery, and became a Second Lieutenant. He engaged in the battle of Shiloh and in subsequent operations. Walter Powell took part in the campaign of Vicksburg and in 1864 with one section of the battery, fought at Atlanta. In the battle of Atlanta, Captain Powell was captured with most of his men and sent to a Confederate prison. Camp Sorghum, where he suffered terribly from fever and want of food. He escaped from the prison hospital but was recaptured several days later, quite out of his mind, a n d returned to the hospital. He was exchanged as a prisoner of war on March 1, 1865. W a l t e r Powell did not recover from his derangement. He had neither the patience nor the dependability to do sustained work. His moody disposition, and occasionally ungovernable temper, rendered him especially unfit for school teaching. Walter Powell proved to be a competent member of Major Powell's expedition to Colorado in 1868, and the following year took part in the exploration of the Colorado River. Walter had a fine bass voice with a great repertoire of popular ballads among which was "Ole Shady," by Handy. Inasmuch as he sang this number often by request, he was dubbed "Old Shady" accordingly. The name does not refer to any dour disposition as some historians have suggested. Following the 1869 expedition, Walter Powell's mental health gradually deteriorated. H e found fitful employment, but was annoyed by severe headaches and long periods of depression. By the early 1870's it was impossible for him to seek sustained employment. H e lived for a time with his sister and brotherin-law, Nell (Ellen) and Harry (A.H.) Thompson. It was Mrs. Thompson who made a home for her brother as long as she lived, giving him the most understanding care possible. After her death W a l t e r Powell was admitted to a military hospital in Washington, D . C , where he died March 10, 1915. Aside from a few published letters and family papers, Walter Powell left no records of his experiences. W I L L I A M C U L P DARRAH.

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