(1843 - 1933)
Home State: Alabama
Branch of Service: Infantry
Unit: 8th Alabama Infantry
Known as Phelan, he enlisted at age 18 as Private, Company K, 8th Alabama Infantry on 16 May 1861 in Perry County. He was a Corporal at Gaines' Mill, VA on 27 June 1862, picked up and carried the flag when color bearer Michael Sexton was killed, and was promoted to Color Sergeant for bravery on the field there.
On the Campaign
He was the color bearer at Sharpsburg when he was wounded in action on 17 September 1862.
The rest of the War
He was appointed Sergeant Major of the regiment, date not given, and was wounded again in the Crater at Petersburg, VA in July 1864, but was with the regiment to the end of the war.
After the War
He was a farmer in James Township, Bibb County, AL by 1880 and to at least 1900. He had retired and was living there with his youngest son Vernon and family by 1930.
References & notes
His service from the State of Alabama,1 which also has him as Joseph Philan Harris. Further details and his role at Sharpsburg are in Major (later Colonel) Herbert's History.2 Personal details from family genealogists and the US Census of 1880-1930. His gravesite is on Findagrave, source also of his picture, from a tinted photograph.
He married Matilda Jane Melton (b. 1846) in June 1865 and they had a daughter Adella (1866-1950). He married again, her sister Susan Tatnall Melton (1844-1918) in December 1869 and they had 7 children by 1889.
Harrisburg in southwest Bibb County was named for him.
More on the Web
A letter he wrote to his future wife Matilda from Petersburg in December 1864 is in the collection of the Auburn University Library.
03/10/1843; Perry County, AL
02/01/1933; Brent, AL; burial in Bethel Cemetery, Brent, AL
1 State of Alabama, Dept. of Archives & History, Alabama Civil War Service Database, Published 2004, first accessed 01 January 2010, <http://www.archives.state.al.us/civilwar/index.cfm>, Source page: /civilwar/soldier.cfm?id=83893 [AotW citation 26032]
2 Herbert, Hilary Abner, and Maurice S. Fortin, editor, History of the Eighth Alabama Volunteer Regiment, C.S.A, The Alabama Historical Quarterly, 1977-00-00, pp. 66, 68, 78, 311 [AotW citation 26033]