site logo
J.B. Rife

J.B. Rife

Federal (USA)


Joseph Bomberger Rife

(1841 - 1889)

Home State: Pennsylvania

Command Billet: Commanding Company

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 1st and 6th United States Infantry

Before Antietam

A 21 year old currier in Middletown, Dauphin County, PA, he enrolled there on 22 April 1861 as First Sergeant, but was reduced in rank on 21 July and mustered into Federal service as a Private in Company G, 6th Pennsylvania Reserves on 27 July 1861. He was promoted again to First Sergeant, but 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 and transferred to Company F on 20 December, and commanded his Company in action after 26 December 1861.

On the Campaign

He commanded Company F of the 6th Infantry on the Maryland Campaign. He was afterward 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 and by January 1865 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 and 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.

By 1880 he was a salesman in a store in Middletown, PA and his parents and sister Susan's family lived with him. He was killed in a carriage accident on 29 January 1889.

References & notes

His service from Heitman,1 Swanson,2 and the Card File.3 The 'misconduct' is documented in Thomas P. Lowry's Sexual Misbehavior in the Civil War: A Compendium (2006). Personal details from family genealogists and the US Census of 1880. His gravesite is on Findagrave; his birth date calculated from his age at death, from his headstone. His picture from a photograph offered for sale by the Excelsior Brigade.

He married Louise Achey in July 1882.


09/06/1841; Middletown, PA


01/29/1889; Middletown, PA; 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]

3   Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Adjutant-General, Pennsylvania Civil War Veterans' Card File, 1861-1866, Published <2005, first accessed 01 July 2005, <>  [AotW citation 29121]