Philip F. Wall (or Wahl) was one of the few non-native born members of Company K. He, along with his twin brother Christopher, was born in the Hesse region of central Germany in January of 1846. In 1856, Philip’s mother, Maria, brought her family to the United States, arriving in New York City aboard the ship Confederation on June 7th of that year. By 1860, the family appears to have moved south and settled in the vicinity of Phoenixville, in Chester County.
At the start of the Civil War, Philip enlisted in Co. K of the 4th P.R.V.C., and joined that unit in Baltimore on Aug. 19, 1861. Although the company Register gives his age at enlistment as 19, he may have been several years younger than that. Later census data consistently gives his date of birth as 1846, which would have made him just 15 in 1861, and therefore one of the youngest members of the unit.
Philip served with Company K throughout the battles of the Peninsula Campaign, and took part in the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam. At Antietam (September 17, 1862) he was badly wounded in the right arm by grape shot, which resulted in the fracturing of several bones and required the partial amputation of the limb. Afterward he was sent to a hospital in Philadelphia to recuperate, and was subsequently dismissed from duty by an Act of Disability on Feb. 10, 1863. Though unable to take part in the fighting, Philip desired to still contribute to the war effort, and on December1, 1863 he re-enlisted in Company I of the 20th Regiment of the Invalid Corps (later re-designated 50th Co., 2nd Battalion, Pennsylvania Reserve Volunteer Corps). He served with that unit, performing a variety of non-combatant roles, until his final discharge from service, on March 1, 1865.
After the war, he returned home to Phoenixville where he became one of that community’s most respected and well-known citizens. He initially established himself as a tobacconist, but by the mid-1870s had become a saloon keeper and agent for the Lauer Brewing Company, and the owner of a popular restaurant located near the corner of Bridge and Main Streets. He operated the restaurant well into the early 1900s, and on at least one occasion hosted a reunion there of his old Company K compatriots. Philip also became interested in the politics of the Democratic Party, and took an active role in organizing and leading local political rallies and parades.
During this time he also became well-known for raising and training canary birds for sale, with one particularly prized bird gaining notoriety for its ability to whistle the tune “Home, Sweet Home.” In 1907, at the age of 61, he gained further acclaim for saving the life of a drowning boy. When a 14-year old boy named Terence Roberts developed cramps while swimming in the Schuylkill Canal, Philip dove in to rescue him and, despite the disability caused by his amputated arm, was able to pull the young man to safety just as he was “sinking for the last time.”
In or about 1874, Philip met and married a young woman named Flora, and together they raised four children. He continued to live in Phoenixville until his death, at the age of 67, on October 13, 1913. Although not yet confirmed, Philip was almost certainly buried in Morris Cemetery in Phoenixville, probably not far from the final resting place of his brother, Christopher.
1870 U.S. Federal Census. Accessed through Ancestry.com.
1880 U.S. Federal Census. Accessed through Ancestry.com.
1890 Veterans Schedule. Accessed through Ancestry.com.
1900 U.S. Federal Census. Accessed through Ancestry.com.
1910 U.S. Federal Census. Accessed through Ancestry.com.
- 2010 New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957. On-line database accessed September 2013.
Boyd, W. Andrew
- 1884 Boyd’s Chester County Directory for 1884-85.
- 1896 Boyd’s Chester County Directory for 1896-97.
Lebanon Daily News, December, 31, 1875.
Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
- 2012 Registers of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-1865. Record Group 19, Pennsylvania State Archives, Harrisburg, PA. ARIAS Digital State Archives website accessed October 2012.
Pennypacker, Nathan A.
- 1862 Letter to wife, Sept. 27, 1862. Collection 176, Nathan A. Pennypacker Letters, Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA.
Pennypacker, Samuel Whitaker
- 1872 Annals of Phoenixville and Its Vicinity: From the Settlement to the Year 1871, Giving the Origin and Growth of the Borough with Information Concerning the Adjacent Townships of Chester and Montgomery Counties and the Valley of the Schuylkill. Philadelphia: Bavis & Pennypacker.
Philadelphia Inquirer, June 24, 1907.
Philadelphia Inquirer, October 21, 1899.
Reading Times, March 21, 1889.
Reading Times, October 25, 1880.
Reading Times, October 25, 1890.
Reading Times, June 25, 1907.
Currently a resident of Burke, Virginia - I'm originally from the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I have been a student of the Pennsylvania Reserves since 1997 and thoroughly enjoy telling their story. By trade I'm a former IT Professional but presently working as a Letter Carrier for the United States Postal Service.