Lewis Thornton Powell  was born on April 22, 1844 in Randolph County, Alabama  to a Baptist minister, George Cader Powell, and his wife Patience Caroline Powell. The youngest son of eight children, he spent the first three years of his life in Randolph County before his father was ordained and the family moved to Stewart County, Georgia.   Powell and his siblings were all educated by their father. 

Lewis seemed to have had a happy childhood that was carefree and enabled him to do all the things a young boy would do, fishing, studying,  reading and caring for the sick animals on his father's farm.  He  was described by his siblings as being a caring, compassionate boy, who loved animals and seemed to be a natural healer.  

 When Lewis was 15, the family moved to Worth County, before  finally moving to Live Oak, Florida in 1859.  

On May 30, 1861 at age 17, Lewis left home to enlist in the 2nd Florida Infantry, Company I, 'Hamilton Blues' in Jasper, Florida.   Sometime in November, 1862, he was hospitalized for "sickness" at General Hospital No. 11 in Richmond, Virginia.   He went on to fight at numerous major  battles unscathed, including Fredericksburg, Chancellorville, 2nd Manasses and Antietam, before being wounded in the right wrist and suffering a broken arm on the second day of fighting at the Battle of Gettysburg, July 2, 1863, from where he was captured and sent to a POW hospital at Pennsylvania College.   Powell stayed at Pennsylvania College until September, when he was transferred to West Buildings Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.    Lewis was able to escape from the hospital within a week of his arrival, fleeing to Alexandria, Virginia.

Back in Virginia, he joined the Mosby Rangers led by  Colonel John Singleton Mosby  in late fall 1863 and rode with the 43rd Battalion, Company B.   After leaving the company, he returned to Baltimore on January 13, 1865, crossing the lines at Alexandria.    During his time with the Rangers, in 1864, Powell became involved in the Confederate Secret Service. It was in Baltimore that he was arrested for  beating an African American servant at the Branson boarding  house. He was arrested and held in jail  for 2 days on charges of being a "spy". Required to sign an Oath of Allegiance, he did so, under the name Lewis Paine.   It was also in Baltimore that he met fellow CSS operative John Surratt through a man named David Preston Parr, also with the CSS.  Through these connections he eventually met John Wilkes Booth.

Powell's part in the assassination was to kill  Secretary of State, William H. Seward  at his home.  On April 14, at approximately 10pm at night, he attempted to do this, but failed.  

Powell was executed with three other conspirators on July 7, 1865. He went to the gallows calmly and quietly, though at some point he was believed to have pleaded for the life of Mary Surratt shortly before he was hanged. His spiritual advisor, Rev. Gillette, thanked the guards for their good treatment of him while he was in prison, on his behalf.  Powell insisted to his death that Mrs. Surratt was innocent.