1st Alabama Cavalry - Est. 1862
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It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of Glenda McWhirter Todd. She passed away on September 3, 2017 surrounded by her family. She was a historian, genealogist, and author who prided herself on being a descendant of Andrew Ferrier McWhirter of the 1st Alabama Cavalry, USV. Her work over the past two decades and her dedication to the 1st Alabama Cavalry has created a legacy that will last for years to come.

Her life's work has touched thousands of people through the years, and I am glad that I had the pleasure to work with her as long as I did. My hope is that her work will live on for years to come to educate and inspire a new generation.

Stories about Troopers from the 1st Alabama

Picture Picture Tombstone Combined Service Record

John R Phillips

John Robert Phillips was born October 18, 1837 in Surry Co., NC, died April 25, 1925 in Bear Creek, AL and was the son of John Spencer Phillips, born March 25, 1810 in Surry Co., NC, died December 21, 1844 in Jonesville, Surry Co., NC, and Susan Hastings, born 1818 in NC, died June 16, 1882 at Thorn Hill, Marion Co., AL, who were married December 12, 1836. On August 23, 1855, John R. Phillips married Mahala Rebecca Ballew in Fannin Co., GA. Mahala was born January 7, 1837 in Wilkes Co., NC and died March 22, 1867 in Thorn Hill, AL. Children of John and Mahala Phillips are: Salome, born May 20, 1856 in Cherokee Co., NC, died 1863 in Thorn Hill, AL; Eliza, born May 26, 1857 in Cherokee Co., NC, died June 8, 1956 in Seagraves, TX, married James Jackson Coats; John Spencer, born August 20, 1858 in Cherokee Co., NC and died as an infant; Susan Esther, born January 12, 1860 at Thorn Hill, AL, died February 20, 1902 at Bear Creek, AL, married Ben Howell; Martha Jane, born November 23, 1861 at Thorn Hill, AL, died 1943 at Florence, AL, married Charles Little Haley; Olmedo, born January 31, 1864 at Thorn Hill, AL, died June 1, 1946 at Phil Campbell, AL, married Annetta Gertrude Ingram; and Arminda Cenora, born January 15, 1867 at Thorn Hill, AL, died April 10, 1867 at Thorn Hill, AL.

In 1867 John R. Phillips married Mary Evelyn Roberts, born January 10, 1846, died May 26, 1931 at Bear Creek, AL and was buried beside her husband in Bear Creek Cemetery. Children of John and Mary are: Isabella Cenorah, born March 29, 1868, died July 24, 1934 at Tuscaloosa, AL, married Dr. Charles Emil Scharnagel; Virgin Ann, born December 3, 1869, died November 9, 1933 at Ft. Worth, TX, married Joseph Charles Srygley; Victoria, born November 27, 1871, died August 27, 1949 at Haleyville, AL, married Samuel Kennedy Wilson; James Pickens, born August 4, 1874, died July 17, 1951 at Bear Creek, AL, married Lucy Elizabeth Flippo; Wendell Veteo, born December 14, 1876, died January 17, 1934 at Deland, FL, married Rose Josephine Martin; John Robert Phillips, Jr., born September 12, 1879, died March 21, 1902 at Bear Creek, AL, never married; Oscar Wilde, born October 10, 1882, died June 24, 1953 at Bear Creek, AL, married Nina Fairless; Micajah Phillips, born December 25, 1885, died January 16, 1886; Lucien Lowery, born November 19, 1888 at Haleyville, AL, died September 30, 1962, married Lessie Hatcher. Other children were born at Thorn Hill, AL.

John Phillips

John R. Phillips was a sergeant in Company L, First Alabama Cavalry. He enrolled for a three-year term of service in September, 1863.

He was born in 1837 in Surry County, North Carolina. In 1858 he moved with his wife, the former Mahala Bellew, and their children from Cherokee County, North Carolina, to Winston County, Alabama. Moving with them was the Bice family, two of whom, Nathaniel Bice and his son, John, also joined the First Alabama Cavalry.

A few months after his arrival in Alabama, John R. Phillips moved his family to eastern Marion County.

Due to the involvement of his ancestors in the Revolutionary War, John believed in a strong Union. He would have been content to remain neutral in the Civil War and tried to avoid Confederate conscription. He was finally caught and forced to join Patterson’s Fifth Alabama Cavalry, CSA. He deserted from the Confederate army and then helped Sanford Trammel in his recruiting efforts for Company L, First Alabama Cavalry, USA. For his help in recruiting, John was made a sergeant.

John saw action at Vincent’s Cross Roads on Oct. 26, 1863 and later spent hospital time in both Memphis and Nashville. He later rejoined the regiment in Georgia but was on a recruiting mission in Marion County, Alabama, when the regiment started its march southward with Sherman. John was stationed in Huntsville, Alabama when the war ended.

After the war John operated a general store in the Thorn Hill Community, near the present site of Haleyville, Alabama. In the early 1880s, he moved to Allen’s Factory, Alabama, which is located near the present site of Bear Creek. He operated John R. Phillips Mercantile Co. there. In 1910 John hosted a reunion of the First Alabama Cavalry in Bear Creek. In 1922, he wrote his autobiography, My Life Story, which told about the Civil War in northwest Alabama and about his involvement in the First Alabama Cavalry. That volume has been used extensively by historians.

John died in 1925 and was buried in the Bear Creek Cemetery. The following year his widow donated land for a school in Bear Creek which still bears the name of Phillips High School.

About the Author
Don Umphrey is a great-grandson of John R. Phillips and used John's autobiography, My Life Story, as a source for his book, Southerners in Blue: They Defied the Confederacy.

Database created and maintained by Ryan Dupree.

Service records compiled by Glenda Todd and used with her permission. This and other information about the history of the First and the men who fought with the unit can be found in her book, First Alabama Cavalry, USA: Homage to Patriotism.

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