THE PHELPS FAMILY
William Phelps was reared in Smithfield township and lived there until just before the breaking out of the war. Having a small farm and a large family of children, he sold it and bought 400 acres of wild land heavily timbered in the western part of Athens township, adjoining the Smithfield line, in order to find employment for his sons in clearing up the land. At the breaking out of the war, when President Lincoln called for troops the old gentleman had eight sons, six of them being stalwart, robust, hardy fellows, one an invalid who died Nov. 10, 1861, and the youngest a boy about thirteen years old. In response to the President’s call for troops the old gentleman and boys became seized of a patriotic spirit, and he told the boys to enlist in defense of the flag and their country, and he would stay and do the best he could upon the 400 acres of wild land; he was heavily in debt for the land, and his exertions were the only recourse he had of paying for it and getting a living. One by one the boys enlisted until the six sturdy sons had all gone. This left him without any help, save the 13 year old boy-so the old gentleman gave all his sons that were acceptable. MARCUS D. belonged to a Pennsylvania battery and had a leg shot off and died at Louisville, Ky, in 1862. ALBERT O. of Co. K, 141st P.V. was shot through the head and instantly killed at the battle of Hatcher’s Run, Feb. 15, ’65. ELMER of the 57th P.V., was killed at the battle of Fredericksburg, Dec. 13, ’62. BIRDSEY T. died at Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 30, ’64. Only two sons out of the six returned-DELAUN residing in California, and VICTOR E. of Co. F. 5th Penn’a Reserves, who died in Athens township, July 12, 1897. “Uncle Billy” as everybody called him, lived to pay for his 400 acres of land, and to see it cleared up into farms. He died Feb. 26, 1882, beloved and respected by all who knew him, fully realizing that he had done his share in the sacrifice of his four sons toward putting down an unholy war. In connection with the service of Albert the following pathetic incidents are related: Young Phelps had greatly desired to visit home, and had made application for a furlough but failed to receive it; whereupon his mother wrote to President Lincoln, saying she had six sons in the service of the country and had greatly desired to see Albert, who had not succeeded in obtaining leave thro the usual channels. The good President was touched with her motherly devotion and granted a leave of thirty days. Albert had returned to the regiment only a short time, and was killed in the first battle after going back. Says a comrade: “After the battle was over a man came and told us that one of our company was killed; he had been shot over the eye and death was so sudden that he had not fallen, but was leaning against a stump. He was about twenty-four years old, and was buried near where he fell.”
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.