1864: William Porter Phillips to Richard Lyons

How Phillips might have looked

How Phillips might have looked

This letter was written by 21 year-old William Porter Phillips (1842-1893), the son of John Phillips (1797-1859) and Eliza Gilmore (1807-1873). William was seventeen when his father — a grocer in Cadiz, Harrison County, Ohio, passed away. After the war, Phillips married (1867) to Mary Elizabeth Craig (1847-1921). He died in 1893 in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The 170th Ohio Infantry was organized in Bellaire, Ohio and mustered in May 13, 1864 for 100 days service under the command of Colonel Miles J. Saunders. The regiment left Ohio for Washington, D.C., May 17 and was attached to 2nd Brigade, Haskins’ Division, XXII Corps, to July 1864, and assigned to garrison duty at Fort Simmons, Fort Bayard, Fort Mansfield, Fort Gaines, and Battery Vermont in the defenses of Washington, until July 4. Moved to Sandy Hook, Maryland, July 4, and served duty in the defenses of Maryland Heights until July 15. Attached to Reserve Division, Department of West Virginia. Operations in the Shenandoah Valley July 15-August 24. Expedition to Snicker’s Ford July 17-18. Rocky Ford July 18. Second Battle of Kernstown, July 24. Martinsburg July 25. Moved to Frederick, Maryland, July 30; then guarded supply trains to Harpers Ferry, serving there until August 24. The 170th Ohio Infantry mustered out of service September 10, 1864.

Phillips wrote the letter to Richard (“Dick”) Lyons (1840-1902) of Cadiz, Ohio. Dick was the son of Robert Lyons (1803-1887) and Anna W. Bowland (1810-1844).


Fort Simmons
June 7th 1864

Richard Lyons, Cadiz, Ohio
“Friend Dick,”

Agreeable to promise, I write you a short letter. I suppose you have heard before this of our camping here. Sure enough, here we are about seven miles northwest of Washington. Our barracks are in the District of Columbia and the fort is in Maryland. I can step out of our barracks into Maryland.

We have good accommodations here. Our sleeping and eating quarters are good, plenty of good water &c. Our duty here is not very hard at this time. Our Col. ¹ is very easy on us. We have not drilled any for three days.

Our time at picket comes about twice a week. We are all glad to get out on picket as we get good grub while out and can confiscate all the provisions we want. The hen roosts are getting stripped bare and I am afraid that the crop of chickens will be short this year. Oh! Golly Dick, you ought to be here and get some strawberries. They are very plenty. Blackberries are going to be in profusion of all kinds of fruit. There will be a good crop.

You never seen such a God forsaken county. The people here are not as well educated as our darkies. They just talk like negroes. Young ladies are very scarce here and most d___m ornery. Sometimes we come across a good-looking gal. They will all play with their tails. Us green horns will all get the clapp if we don’t watch.

[Stuart] Beebe is in his glory at this time. He is orderly to the Col. and has an easy time. I have no doubt he would like to be treading some of the Cadiz girls.

Joe Clark has been enjoying himself but he is getting a little homesick and you would laugh to see him going around with that mouth drawed up. [Albert] Dewey is doing bully. Somebody stole his sugar yesterday and made him mad. Leizure [William C. Laizure?] still gets a few lines from that neighbor of yours (Mattie).

M[oses] K. Turner is trying to enjoy himself. Him and T[hompson] Craig bunk together. R[obert] Wilkin is at his old trade. He went out in the woods and captured two swarms of bees. He is now making a hive and we will have honey in a few days.

There is some talk of the 170th Regiment going to Fort Reno but we don’t know where we will go. We can’t hear nothing — only what the officers choose to tell us and that is d—-ned little. You have to ask to go to shit.

We have some good times here. Most of the boys try their hand at cards. We bought a fiddle and if we don’t have some tall dances you never had any. There is about twenty fiddlers in Co. K. and as many jig dancers. The boys keep very sober but it is because they cannot get anything to drink. The Sutler keeps ale but it is sour and don’t take. He keeps other whiskies for the officers. Money is getting scarce in Company K. I had $10 when I started; have 25 cts. left. [Robert] Clark is dead broke. [Stuart] Beebe in the same fix. [Albert] Dewey has a few cents. Billy Haverfield bunks with Porter. Our drummer boy [John] Stubbins feels as large as Ben Quest. He is the noisiest boy in the regiment. I like this kind of soldiering well and don’t want to see Cadiz for a few days.

The Capt. wants me for something and I will have to quit. Dick, write me a long letter and give me all the news. Tell S. George that I think he is treating me rather bad. I wrote to him from Bellaire [Ohio] and have not been answered. Give my best to Piety girls. Remember me to the boys. Who runs Catherine Tanner now? Who runs all the girls? Write soon.

Friend, W. Porter Phillips

Dick, I cannot get any stamps and will have to let you pay the postage. Tell F___ Tipton & Dewey to write. I want to go to Washington tomorrow. Dick, I wish you would come here and stay a few days. You would not want to go back to Cadiz. I have written sixteen letters and got two. Was you at Robinson’s wedding or Hatton’s. You may send some good papers, if you will. We expect box from Cadiz today. Our eating here is more useful than beans, meat, and molasses. Would like to have some of  Wagner’s ginger cakes. Dick you must call down to Wiers. Was you at the Pic Nic? How does Brown Clark get along?

¹ The colonel of the 170th Ohio Infantry was Miles J. Saunders.


About Griff

My passion is studying American history leading up to & including the Civil War. I particularly enjoy reading, transcribing & researching primary sources such as letters and diaries. View all posts by Griff

2 responses to “1864: William Porter Phillips to Richard Lyons

  • Michael Phillips

    My name is Michael Carnahan Phillips, grandson of Thomas Porter Phillips(TPP), brother to William Porter Phillips of Cadiz Ohio. My grandmother was Alice Carnahan of Cadiz, Ohio. Both are buried there. In the early 1900s they moved from Chicago to Pasadena, Ca due to health reasons. My father was Thomas Porter Phillips Jr. and my oldest brother, Thomas Porter Phillips III, both born in Los Angeles. I would like to make contact with whoever posted this letter by e-mail as I am trying to find living relatives. I live in Pacific Palisades, Cal, part of Los Angeles.

  • 1864: James Hastings Drennen to Capt. James Galbreath Theaker | Spared & Shared 7

    […] ¹ Drennen does not mention the unit by name but I believe he is referring to the 170th Ohio National Guard that was activated during the summer of 1864 for 90 days. They were engaged in a battle at Snicker’s Ford in July 1864 before being deactivated after 90 days service. See also — 1864: William Porter Phillips to Richard Lyons. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Spared & Shared 20

Saving history one letter at a time

Notes on Western Scenery, Manners, &c.

by Washington Marlatt, 1848

Spared & Shared 19

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Recollections of Army Life

by Charles A. Frey

The Civil War Letters of William Kennedy

Co. B, 91st New York Infantry

The Glorious Dead

Letters from the 23rd Illinois Infantry, the 111th Pennsylvania Infantry, the 64th New York Infantry, and the 14th Pennsylvania Cavalry

Cornelius Van Houten

1st New Jersey Light Artillery

Letters of Charley Howe

36th Massachusetts Volunteers

Sgt. Major Fayette Lacey

Co. B, 37th Illinois Volunteers

"These few lines"

the pocket memorandum of Alexander C. Taggart

The Civil War Letters of Will Dunn

Co. F, 62nd Pennsylvania Volunteers

Henry McGrath Cannon

Co. A, 124th New York Infantry & Co. B, 16th New York Cavalry

Civil War Letters of Frederick Warren Holmes

Co. H, 77th Illinois Volunteers

"Though distant lands between us be"

Civil War Letters of Monroe McCollister, Co. B, 6th OVC

"Tell her to keep good heart"

Civil War Letters of Nelson Statler, 211th PA

"May Heaven Protect You"

14th Connecticut drummer boy's war-time correspondence with his mother

Moreau Forrest

Lt. Commander in the US Navy during the Civil War

Diary of the 29th Massachusetts Infantry

Fighting with the Irish Brigade during the Peninsula Campaign

"Till this unholy rebellion is crushed"

Letters of Dory & Morty Longwood, 7th Indiana

"I Go With Good Courage"

The Civil War Letters of Henry Clay Long, 11th Maine Infantry

"This is a dreadful war"

The Civil War Letters of Jacob Bauer, 16th Connecticut, & his wife Emily

Spared & Shared 16

Saving History One Letter at a Time

Lloyd Willis Manning Letters

3rd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, Co. I

The Yankee Volunteer

A Virtual Archive of Civil War Likenesses collected by Dave Morin

William Henry Jordan

Co. K, 7th Rhode Island Infantry

No Cause to Blush

The Bancroft Collection of Civil War Letters

William A. Bartlett Civil War Letters

Company D, 37th Massachusetts Infantry

The John Hughes Collection

A Virtual Archive of his Letters, 1858-1869

The Civil War Letters of Rufus P. Staniels

Co. H, 13th New Hampshire Volunteers

This is Indeed A Singular War

The Civil War Letters of Henry Scott Murray, 8th New York Light Artillery

The Letters of James A. Durrett

Co. E, 18th Alabama Infantry

Spared & Shared 15

Saving History One Letter at a Time

%d bloggers like this: