Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wednesday's Wonderful Collection - Belitha Powell Papers, MS.000164

Belitha Powell was a noted Houston, Texas, physician who served as a surgeon and medical director for the Confederate Army during the Civil War. He was born May 3, 1832, in Berlin, Maryland, and died June 13, 1893, in Houston, Texas. As the son of a ship owner, he made several sea voyages to Central and South America before choosing to study medicine in Philadelphia. He received his degree in 1853 and moved to Monroe, Louisiana, during the height of a yellow fever epidemic. In 1857 he married the former Sallie E. Harvey of Louisiana and they had three daughters and one son.
Dr. Powell enlisted at the outbreak of the Civil War and became a major in the 4th Battalion, Louisiana Infantry. He was transferred to the Trans-Mississippi Department in late October 1862 and charged with overseeing all hospitals in this theater (Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, the Indian Territory, and Louisiana); he was also promoted to medical director for a large military hospital in Mount Lebanon, Louisiana.
When the war ended, Powell relocated his family to Houston, Texas, and established a new practice in the midst of another yellow fever epidemic. He also served as the surgeon for the Texas Central Railroad after its establishment in 1879. He retired in 1892, died a year later, and is buried in Houston's Glenwood Cemetery.
This collection contains Belitha Powell's Civil War diary together with biographical data and other material. The diary reflects his period of enlistment from May 21-October 26, 1862, during which time he was stationed at Camp Mercer, Georgia; Camp Van Dorn, Georgia (located near Savannah); Charleston, South Carolina; and James Island, South Carolina.

  • 1. Diary of Belitha Powell, Major, 4th Battalion, Louisiana Infantry, Confederate States Army, 1862 May 21-October 26
  • 2. Biographical information, Belitha Powell
  • 3. "The Campaign of Walker's Texas Division" by J.P. Blessington, 1875