Powell, Robert Micajah (1826–1916)

By: Stephanie P. Niemeyer

Type: Biography

Published: May 26, 2011

Robert Micajah "Mike" Powell, Confederate officer, was born on September 23, 1826, in Montgomery County, Alabama, to George Francis Powell and Nancy (Williamson) Powell. Powell moved to Brenham, Washington County, Texas, in 1849 and partnered with his uncle, R. M. "Three-Legged Willie" Williamson, in his legal practice. Powell married Elizabeth Green Wood (the daughter of wealthy planter Maj. Green Wood) on November 27, 1851. He purchased a 176-acre farm the following year, and the couple had one child before Elizabeth died in 1856. Powell represented Montgomery County in the Seventh Texas Legislature from 1857 to 1858, and in 1860 he had $21,700 in personal real estate.

Powell first served as captain of Company D of the Fifth Texas Infantry during the Civil War. Company D included men from Walker and Montgomery counties. He was promoted to major on August 22, 1862, and began to serve at the regimental headquarters. He rose quickly in the ranks and became lieutenant colonel on August 30, 1862, and then was promoted to colonel and began to command the Fifth Texas Infantry in November 1862. At Gettysburg he was wounded and captured on July 2, 1863. Union forces treated his wound and then imprisoned him at Johnson's Island Federal Prison, Sandusky, Ohio. On January 27, 1865, Powell was transferred to Fortress Monroe before being paroled a few days later on February 6. He returned to the Confederacy and took command of the Texas Brigade from Frederick S. Bass. Powell led the unit until its surrender at Appomattox on April 12, 1865.

By 1867 Powell had moved to Baltimore, Maryland, where he worked as a merchant and cotton broker. He had also remarried, in 1865 on his return to the Fifth Texas from prison, this time to Elizabeth Grace. The couple had a son and daughter. In 1882 Powell moved his family to St. Louis, Missouri, where he died on January 15, 1916, at eighty-nine years of age. He is buried at Cavalry Cemetery in that city.

Ken Allers, "Compliments in Such a Damned Place as This: The Trans-Mississippi Units at Gettysburg" (http://www.gdg.org/Research/Authored%20Items/allers.html), accessed March 30, 2011. Granbury's Texas Brigade: Robert Micajah Powell, Colonel, 5th Regiment, Texas Infantry (http://www.granburystexasbrigade.org/gallery/heroes/officers/powell_robert_m.html), accessed March 30, 2011. Robert E. Reichardt, Forever the Cause, The Life and Legacy of Confederate Colonel Robert M. Powell, 5th Texas Infantry (Robert E. Reichardt, 2007). Charles E. Spellman, ed., The Texas House of Representatives: A Pictorial Roster (Austin: Texas House of Representatives, 1992). Ralph A. Wooster, ed., Lone Star Blue and Gray: Essays on Texas in the Civil War (Austin: Texas State Historical Association, 1995).

  • Seventh Legislature (1857-1858)
  • House
Time Periods:
  • Civil War

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Stephanie P. Niemeyer, “Powell, Robert Micajah,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 29, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/powell-robert-micajah.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 26, 2011

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