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He was born in Mecca, Ohio, on Christmas Eve. Later in life, he graduated from the University of Michigan and completed post-graduate work at Union College located in Schenectady, New York, in 1862.
In the second year of the American Civil War, Powers enlisted into the United States Army as a private. He became a second lieutenant and later a captain in the 125th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He served at the Third Battle of Chattanooga and in the Atlanta Campaign before returning with his regiment to Tennessee for much of the remainder of the war. He ended his military service as a colonel upon the end of the conflict.
In 1865, the Ohioan settled in Noxubee County, Mississippi as a cotton planter, later becoming sheriff. During Reconstruction, Powers was elected lieutenant governor and began his term in 1870. Governor James L. Alcorn resigned the following year to accept a U.S. Senate seat, thereby making Powers the acting governor; he finished the unexpired term ending in 1874.
Powers died in Los Angeles, California in 1912.
|- style="text-align: center;"
|width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"|Preceded by
James L. Alcorn |width="40%" style="text-align: center;" rowspan="1"|Governor of Mississippi
1871-1874 |width="30%" align="center" rowspan="1"| Succeeded by
Adelbert Ames |- |} Template:Governors of Mississippi Template:Governors of Mississippi
de:Ridgley C. Powers