AUTHOR: Phil Powell
My father used to tell me a story about a family member who fought in the Civil War and died while making his way home by freezing to death in the swamp. I always thought the mystery soldier was from the Phillips side of the Powell family, but after hundreds of hours of research on my Powell family tree, I believe it might have been Ralzman Powell who was born in 1838. According to military records, Ralzman (“Rals” in the records) was twenty-three years old when he enlisted into Company D, 20th Infantry (North Carolina) on April 26, 1861 in Columbus County, an area of North Carolina with lots of swamps. In September of 1862, Ralzman was discharged after sustaining an injury at Malvern Hill, Virginia on July 1, 1862. He had been shot in the arm or elbow and had had his right arm amputated.
Other family members know of the story but do not know who that individual was. Phillips side of the family know of no such story.
There was never a male head of household in the 1850, 1860, 1870 Census records (or at all) for this Powell family. I’m guessing the mother listed was Obedience Beedy Powell, possibly a Lawson. In 1860, Obedience and the family lived next to a Jesse Lawson who looks to have not survived the war either. By 1870, Obedience lives with a daughter, Marathan Powell Fields, and a grandson. Marathan, too, lost her husband, Doctor G. Fields, in the war. That could not have been a happy home with both the women having lost their spouses in the war. Marathan Fields lived until 1904. Obedience Powell (Lawson?) does not show up in any records again.