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J.B. Rife

J.B. Rife

Federal (USA)


Joseph B. Rife

(1839 - 1889)

Home State: Pennsylvania

Command Billet: Commanding Company

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 1st and 6th United States Infantry

Before Antietam

He enlisted at age 21 as Private in Company G, 6th Pennsylvania Reserves on 27 July 1863. He was promoted First Sergeant, date not given. He was discharged to accept a commission as 2nd Lieutenant, Company B, 6th United States Infantry on 5 August 1861. He was promoted to First Lieutenant on 9 September. He transferred to Company F on 20 December 1861, and commanded his Company in action from 26 December.

On the Campaign

Commanded Company F of the 6th Infantry on the Maryland Campaign. He was honored by brevet to Captain for "gallant and meritorious service" at Antietam.

The rest of the War

He was detached on recruiting service 26 November 1862. By January 1865 he was commanding the "Permanent Party" at Fort Wood in New York Harbor.

After the War

He was promoted to Captain, 6th US Infantry on 7 November 1865. By 1868 he was commanding Company E in the West. He resigned from the Army on 1 March 1872 - possibly in response to allegations of sexual misconduct with an enlisted man. He was "accidentally killed" on 29 January 1889.

References & notes

Basic information from Heitman1 with details from Swanson2. The 'misconduct' is documented in Thomas P. Lowry's Sexual Misbehavior in the Civil War: A Compendium (2006). His gravesite is on Findagrave, source also of his (fuzzy) photograph, from descendent Susan Kemper Rife.


1839 in PA


01/29/1889; burial in Middletown Cemetery, Middletown, PA


1   Heitman, Francis Bernard, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army 1789-1903, 2 volumes, Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1903, Vol. 1, pg. 831  [AotW citation 14891]

2   Swanson, Clifford L., The Sixth United States Infantry Regiment, 1855 to Reconstruction, Jefferson (NC): McFarland & Company, Publishers, 2001, Appendices A and B  [AotW citation 14892]