Major John Wesley Powell explained how he lost his arm during the battle of Shiloh during the Civil War at a festival held at Jarvie Ranch on Saturday.
The event was attended by about 100 members of the Outlaw ATV Jamboree who were in the area for their annual event. Several other nearby residents and travelers from out of state also attended the event sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management.
Powell, played by Uintah County Deputy Attorney John Stearmer, was there to commemorate the sesquesentennial of an expedition he led beginning May 24, 1869. The Powell Expedition floated the Green River all the way through eastern Utah, through present day Lake Powell and on through the Grand Canyon. The trip took approximately 80 days and included nine men, one of whom was Powell’s brother. Eight of the men finished the journey and became famous, he said.
Powell lost his arm commanding an artillery battery during the Battle of Shiloh, which was fought April 6-7 in southwestern Tennessee. Rebel soldiers caught the Union Army off guard and drove them back but the Union prevailed due in part to their superior artillery, according to the American Battlefield Trust.
Powell (Stearmer) said the bullet or mini-ball struck his hand but doctors had to remove most of the arm down to just above his elbow. Later in life the arm would sometimes swing and was difficult for him to control.
After he recovered he also fought in the Battle of Vicksburg in Mississippi where he found fossils in trenches on the battlefield. He was interested in geology but never attended a university.
Powell lived in the Ashley Valley in 1868 where the Ute Indians gave him the name “One Arm Off.” He told stories about growing up in Palmyra, New York and of a concert he once saw. He also discussed his exploration of the Green River and some of the perils he encountered during the journey.
Interpretive displays at Jarvie Ranch tell an interesting story about the early trappers, Indians and outlaws that frequented the area.