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J.R. Phillips

J.R. Phillips

Confederate (CSV)


John Riley Phillips

(1839 - 1894)

Home State: Virginia

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 31st Virginia Infantry

Before Sharpsburg

In 1860 he was a 20 year old worker on his parent's farm at Valley Furnace near Philippi in Barbour County, VA. He enlisted as a Private in Company K, 31st Virginia Infantry, date not given. He was commissioned First Lieutenant on 1 July 1861 and was wounded on Allegheny Mountain on 13 December 1861. He was promoted to Captain on 1 May 1862 and was again wounded, in the hip at Gaines' Mill, VA on 27 June.

On the Campaign

In his diary, Phillips described what he saw of the action at Sharpsburg on 17 September 1862:

The aged and brave [Colonel] Billy Smith, with his snow white hair locks waving on the morning breeze, cried, “Give it to them my boys.” Thus, on went the terrific struggle, soon support come up and Gen. Early ordered us to charge. Springing forward in the direction of the enemy with almost terrific yells, in a few jumps we gained the foot of the hill on which the enemy was formed. The enemy was unable to stand the fury any longer, broke and fled, and at this period, a ball struck me on the right shoulder. I was assisted from the field. On Thursday September 18, 1862. I spent the day among the wounded at the hospital at Shepherdstown, Berkeley County, Va.

The rest of the War

He returned to duty in October and was wounded again, in the leg at Fredericksburg, VA on 13 December 1862. He was wounded by a gunshot to his right side/hip and arm in the Wilderness, VA on 6 May 1864 and afterward in hospitals and on furlough through December 1864. He was medically retired to the Invalid Corps on 24 February 1865. He was captured and paroled on 17 May 1865 at Charlottesville, VA.

After the War

By 1870 and to at least 1880 he was again farming on his parent's place in Barbour County, by then West Virginia.

References & notes

His service from Ashcraft1 and his Compiled Service Records,2 via fold3. The quote above from Philip J. Kline's Diary of Captain John Riley Phillips, 31st Virginia Infantry, Confederate States of America, thanks to Ralph Parmenter Bennett; the diary was originally published in The Barbour Democrat from July to November 1968, under "History of Valley Furnace." Personal details from family genealogists and the US Census of 1860-1880. His gravesite is on Findagrave.

He married Elizabeth E Parks (1848-1938) in March 1867 and they had two daughters, Alice and May.

Captain Phillips' wartime diary was also published as Born to Blush Unseen self-published in 2004 by Michael R. Haymes (at Barnes & Noble, for example); that's the source of Captain Phillips' photograph, also courtesy of Mr Bennett.


08/24/1839; Meadowville, VA


10/24/1894; Valley Furnace, WV; burial in Shiloh Cemetery, Kasson, WV


1   Ashcraft, Jr., John M., 31st Virginia Infantry, Lynchburg (Va): H. E. Howard, Inc., 1899  [AotW citation 27890]

2   US War Department, Compiled Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, Record Group No. 109 (War Department Collection of Confederate Records), Washington DC: US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), 1903-1927  [AotW citation 27891]