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Bio: William Jackson Phillips, C.S.A., Pvt. Co. H., 19th Alabama Infantry

09 May 2017 14:58 #1786 by Mamie
William Jackson Phillips
Crowned with honor and affection, W. J. Phillips answered the last roll call and entered into eternal rest, July 3, 1923. He died at the home of his oldest son, W. F. Phillips, of Hengar, Ala. He was born November 21, 1840, in Gwinnett County, Ga. He was the oldest child, and, at the age of ten years, he was left with the responsibility of caring for his widowed mother, two sisters and one brother. He took the task up bravely and worked for a wage of ten cents per day. Thus employed he was deprived of an education.

In 1861 feeling that the cause of the south was just, Phillips cast his lot with the 19th Alabama Infantry, Company H., at Huntsville, Ala. He endured many hardships while in active service, but loyalty to his country always prompted him to duty. His only brother was fatally wounded at the battle of Chickamauga, and he was forced to leave him in the hands of strangers while he was rushed on and was captured at Missionary Ridge and taken to Rock Island Prison, where he remained until the surrender. After the surrender, he returned to Cherokee County, Ala., and again took up the duty of caring for his sisters, his mother having died while he was in the war. Here he met, wooed, and won Miss Mary Frances Thornton. Later his sisters married and went to Louisiana, while he and his companion moved to Sand Mountain. There he bought a home and built a log house, and they spent their days happily, and reared a family of six children-four daughters and two sons.

On July 30, 1913, his wife bade him good-by and entered into eternal rest. They were both true and faithful members of the Missionary Baptist Church. At the ripe old of eighty-two, he passed away, survived by his six children, all living in Alabama. The children are: Mrs. W. S. Garvin, Huntsville; Mrs. Julia A. Smith, Auburn; Mrs. R. W. Holdridge, Lydia; Mrs. B. T. Wilbanks, Crossville; W. F. and Dr. J. B. Phillips, Henagar.

Source: Confederate Veteran: Published Monthly in the Interest of Confederate Veterans and Kindred Topics, by S. A. Cunningham, Volume XXXI, published 1923; Pg. 346

William Jackson Phillips
On 21 November 1863, Pvt. William Phillips of the 19th Alabama Infantry quietly celebrated his twenty-third birthday in a rifle pit on Missionary Ridge. Four days later he and his comrades in Company H strived in vain to repel a massive Union onslaught against the entire Rebel line southeast of Chattanooga. A poor boy from Cherokee County, Phillips had worked odd jobs throughout the 1850's to help feed his widowed mother and three younger siblings. Yet with the outbreak of war, he was one of the first to enlist in the 19th Alabama. With combat experience at Shiloh, Murfreesboro, and Chickamauga, Phillips was a veteran to the core, though one with a somber demeanor. He had watched his brother die at Chickamauga, a battle in which he himself was wounded. At Missionary Ridge Phillips and the rest of the Confederate army held a seemingly impregnable position. His regiment anchored the right flank of Deas's Brigade, which occupied a portion of army's right center. To Phillips's immediate left stood Water's Battery, and to his right the sturdy structure of the Carroll House. Unfortunately, the private could not see down the slope to his front; his regiment had entrenched itself too far back. On the afternoon of 25 November, the staccato of artillery and musketry filled the air as the Union army commenced its attack from Chattanooga. Phillips gripped his rifle as the sounds came closer, the scampering retreat of the regiment's skirmish line presaging the immediate arrival of bluecoats. Pandemonium erupted off to the left as Manigault's Brigade broke and fled, taking half of Deas's Brigade with it. Then a howling pack of Minnesota boys burst over the rocks a mere two dozen yards away. With a target to shoot at, Phillips and the rest of the 19th Alabama unleashed a volley that stymied the enemy long enough for the nearby gun crews to attempt an escape. But a swarm of fresh midwestern regiments soon appeared, overran both the battery and the Carroll House, and pushed the 19th back. Amid the panic and chaos, Brig. Gen. Alfred J. Vaughn commandeered the 150 remaining men in the regiment, including Phillips, added them to his Tennessee brigade, and led a desperate counterattack. The ensuing hand-to-hand fighting around the Carroll House was brief and futile; Phillips and hundreds other Rebels fell captive to the surging Yankees. In the days that followed, Phillips was sent to the Union prison camp at Rock Island, Illinois. Enroute the private may have pondered with some irony a stanza from a poem authored by Joseph High, a lieutenant from Company H who was killed at Chickamauga: "Freedom or Death, our song shall be/From land to land, from sea to sea/And when you hear from us again/You'll hear of lots of Yankees slain." For Phillips, the poem's glorious sentiment belied an ignoble reality.

On same page, Photograph of:
William Jackson Phillips, copy print from Confederate Veteran.

Source: Portraits of Conflict: A Photographic History of Alabama in the Civil War, Volume X, by Ben H. Severance, published by University of Arkansas Press, 2012; Pg. 158

Military Record:
William J. Phillips
CSA, Pvt., Co. H., 19th Regiment, Alabama Infantry
19th Infantry Regiment, organized at Huntsville, Alabama, in August, 1861, contained men from Blount, Cherokee, Pickens, Coosa, Chilton, and Jefferson counties. After serving at Mobile the unit was ordered to Corinth and later fought at Shiloh under J.K. Jackson. Transferred to General Gardner's command, it was active in the Kentucky Campaign, then was brigaded under Generals Deas, G.D. Johnston, and Pettus, Army of Tennessee. The 19th participated in many conflicts from Murfreesboro to Atlanta, was with Hood in Tennessee, and fought at Bentonville, North Carolina. It lost fifty-four percent of the 650 engaged at Shiloh, and reported 151 killed and wounded at Murfreesboro and 192 at Chickamauga. In December, 1863, the regiment contained 347 men and 228 arms. It was badly cut up in the battles around Atlanta and many were captured at Franklin. Only 76 men were present when it surrendered. The unit was commanded by Colonels Samuel K. McSpadden and Joseph Wheeler, Lieutenant Colonels George R. Kimbrough and Edward D. Tracy, and Majors Solomon Palmer and James H. Savage.

Source: National Park Service, Department of Interior, Soldiers and Sailors Database, The Civil War; website: www.nps.gov

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