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Patrick Power was born in Ireland in 1836 and was the oldest of eight children. His father, Patrick Sr., immigrated to Australia with his family from Ireland in 1849, but somehow, Patrick ended up in the United States prior to the outbreak of the American Civil War. On September 1, 1862 Patrick like many others, mustered into the military service of the Union at Wheeling, Virginia [now West Virginia]. Power’s  served in Company B of the 15th West Virginia Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He rose in rank from a private to a Sergeant and on October 27, 1863 was promoted from Sergeant to Second Lieutenant, and then to a First Lieutenant, on January 24, 1865.

The Fifteenth Infantry was organized in September, 1862, with Maxwell McCaslin as Colonel and Thomas Morris as Lieutenant Colonel. Milton Wells was commissioned Major, by Governor Peirpont, on October 16, 1862 and Major Wells assisted in recruiting the regiment; being  resigned from Company D, 27th Ohio Infantry to accept his promotion in the 15th West Virginia Infantry. After its organization it was attached to the Railroad Division, West Virginia, until January, 1863. It saw service at New Creek Station from October 18th through December 22, 1862, moved to Sir John's Run on December 22nd and stood guard at the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad until June 16, 1863. It participated in operations against Lee till July 28th, the expedition against Virginia & Tennessee Railroad in May, the Battle of Cloyd's Mountain on May 9th,  New River Bridge, Cove Mountain or Grassy Lick, near Wytheville, Salt Pond Mountain and Gap Mountain and many others during 1863 and early 1864.

At the Battle of Snicker's Ferry, Virginia on July 18, 1864, Lieutenant-Colonel Morris was killed, and on August 8, 1864, Major Wells was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel. On September 7, 1864, Colonel, McCaslin resigned his commission, when Lieutenant-Colonel Wells promoted to a full Colonel, and was in command of his regiment at the Battle of Cedar Creek on October 19, 1864.  He was the first to discover the Confederate forces advancing that morning, and ordered the firing of the first shot of the engagement. As a result, his command was the only one that left dead and wounded soldiers on the field. During the engagement of the afternoon of that day, Colonel Wells was wounded in the left hip, from which he suffered from then on.

In a dispatch report from Colonel Milton Wells, to the 3rd Brigade Headquarters, Porter and others were commended for their actions at the Battle of Cedar Creek;

“HDQRS, THIRD BRIGADE, FIRST INFANTRY DIVISION,

ARMY OF WEST VIRGINIA,

Cedar Creek, Va., October 25,1864.

LIEUTENANT: I have the honor to submit the following report of the Fifteenth Regiment West Virginia Infantry during the engagement of the 19th instant:

Between the hours of 5 and 6 o'clock in the morning of the action my command was in line of battle in the breast-works in front of my camp, at which time the enemy were observed approaching in force within a few rods of our works. I gave the order to fire, which was kept up until we were completely outflanked by the enemy on our left. I here lost several enlisted men killed, wounded, and captured. On falling back I reformed a portion of my command in rear of the original dine of works of the Nineteenth Army Corps; said corps giving way, my command was scattered somewhat, but afterward were collected in squads, and about 12 o'clock the larger part of the command were reformed in line with other portions of the Third Brigade, the brigade being its line with Sixth and Nineteenth Army Corps, from which position we moved to the left with the Army of West Virginia as a reserve and support to a battery. About 5 p. m. we were ordered to advance, which was done in good order, but not without a loss in wounded.

The conduct of my only field officer, and a portion of the line officers, I cannot commend very highly; but the conduct of some of them is commendable, especially that of Captain Gandy, of Company E, Captain McCaskey, of Company C, Captain Porter and Lieutenant Lazear, of Company K, and Lieutenant Powers, of Company B. The conduct of the enlisted men who were present was highly commendable.

The losses in my command were as follows: 5 enlisted men killed, 1 commissioned officer and 11 enlisted men wounded, and 1 commissioned officer and 11 enlisted men captured.

I forgot to mention among the officers who performed their duty faithfully on that day was Lieut. F. G. W. Ford, Company F.

The above report I submit.

I am, yours, respectfully

MILTON WELLS,

Col. 15th West Virginia Infty., Comdg. Third Briq., First Infty. Div.”

After the Battle of Cedar Creek they did duty at Camp Russell and in the Shenandoah Valley, moved to Washington, D.C., then to Bermuda Hundred, Virginia, were in the trenches before Richmond, Virginia and took part in the Appomattox Campaign from March 28th through April 9th. It was in April 1865 that Powers relationship with Captain Egan of the 15th deteriorated,he got into trouble; and was court-martialed on three charges. He was charged with disobeying a direct order, disrespect of a superior officer and being absent without leave. He was found guilty on all charges, fined a sum equal to four months pay and reprimanded in General Orders by his Commanding General. The trial transcripts reveal that he called his commanding officer an “old fool”, accused him of pulling mean tricks on his men following an argument over a Clothing and Description list and when Porter didn’t feel like marching, he abandoned his company and instead traveled by train with the wounded and disabled from Concord Station to Farmvill, Virginia.

The 15th continued on and was at the Fall of Petersburg, the Surrender of Lee and his army and then made their way to Richmond, Virginia; doing duty near Richmond until June, when it and Powers were mustered out of service at Richmond, Virginia on June 14, 1865.

Captain Michael Egan, Power’s 15th West Virginia Infantry Company Commander later wrote an account of Power’s Civil War service which was published in a book endtitle “The Flying Gray-Haired Yank”, in which he described Power’s as brave, reliable and portly. Egan stated that Power’s nerve, which he displayed on a number of occasions, contributed in securing Power's promotions.

Patrick Sr. having immigrated to Australia with his family from Ireland in 1849, settled on a farm in New South Wales at Nundle, near Tamworth, Australia. So Patrick, after the war, left the U.S. for England in 1867 and shortly afterwards boarded the ship “Prince George” for Australia and his family. Arriving in Australia, Patrick joined his family on their farm and for awhile made a descent living working in the gold fields.

Power’s never got married and passed away as a bachelor at the home of his sister Margaret, Mrs. Michael Ryan, on March 23, 1886; of heart and lung disease.  He was buried in the Nundle Cemetery and in 1996 when a headstone was acquired from the American Veterans Administration in Washington D.C., a ceremony was organized by his grand-niece, and the headstone was placed on his grave.

 

“A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion”, Frederick H. Dyer, 1908

“Cedar Creek After Action Report”, Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies

Index to Compiled Service Records, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

Nundle Cemetery Records

“Official Army Register of the Volunteer Force 1861-1865”, 1922

 “The Flying Grey-Haired Yank”, Michael Egan

“The Union Army, 1861-1865: Organizations and Operations”,  Frank J. Welcher, 1989

 “The War of the Rebellion. A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies”, Washington. 1882-1900

 

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