Phillips, Joseph (1831–1863)

By: Bruce Bumbalough

Type: Biography

Published: May 26, 2011

Updated: August 7, 2020

Joseph Phillips was a Confederate States of America Army cavalry officer. He was born on October 31, 1831, in Elizabeth City County, Virginia. His father's name was also Joseph. The older Joseph Phillips, a widower in 1850, was a younger brother of Lt. Col. Jefferson Curle Phillips of the Thirteenth Virginia Cavalry.

Joseph Phillips the younger was a farmer, sawmill and livery stable owner in Elizabeth City County before the war. He enlisted as a private in Company B, Third Virginia Cavalry, on May 14, 1861, and was promoted to second lieutenant as aide-de-camp to Gen. John Bankhead Magruder and Gen. John Bell Hood. He distinguished himself in battle at the Second Battle of Bull Run and during the Seven Days battles. He was made captain of cavalry on October 14, 1862. When Magruder assumed command of the District of Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona, Phillips went west with him. He was promoted to colonel on February 13, 1863. He was then appointed as commander of the Third Texas Cavalry, Arizona Brigade, when it was formed on February 21, 1863. The Third Texas Cavalry, Arizona Brigade, was formed from the Third Cavalry Battalion and some independent companies to regimental strength.

The Third Texas Cavalry, Arizona Brigade, fought in Louisiana during 1863 and 1864. One of the first battles in which it was engaged in Louisiana was the second battle of Donaldsonville on June 28, 1863. Confederate forces under Gen. Thomas Green sought to capture Fort Butler there. The result was a loss for the Confederates, who suffered 261 casualties. The Third Texas Cavalry, Arizona Brigade, suffered 58 casualties in the battle including 19 killed, 18 wounded, and 21 missing. Among the casualties was Colonel Phillips, who was listed as lost and supposedly killed after the battle. He was reported killed the following day.

Bruce S.Allardice, Confederate Colonels: A Biographical Register (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2008). Jerry Thompson, Civil War in the Southwest: Recollections of the Sibley Brigade (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 2001). The Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events (New York: Van Norstrand, 1864). Stewart Sifakis, Compendium of the Confederate Armies: Texas (New York: Facts on File, 1995).

Time Periods:
  • Civil War

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Bruce Bumbalough, “Phillips, Joseph,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 18, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 26, 2011
August 7, 2020

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