Work, Philip Alexander (1832–1911)

By: Cooper K. Ragan

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: September 1, 1995

Philip Alexander Work, lawyer and Confederate soldier, was born in Cloverport, Breckinridge County, Kentucky, on February 17, 1832, the son of John and Frances (Alexander) Work. The family moved to Velasco, Texas, in 1838 and several years later settled in Town Bluff, Tyler County; John Work established a plantation a few miles below Town Bluff. After receiving a good education, Philip Work was admitted to the bar in Woodville in 1853. He enlisted and served with the rank of first sergeant for four months in Capt. John George Walker's Company B, Mounted Battalion of Texas Volunteers, when Governor Elisha Marshall Pease in the fall of 1854 issued a call for volunteers to protect the Texas frontier from Indian depredations; the volunteers were then mustered into the regular United States Army, and Work later received a federal pension for this service. He was one of the two delegates from Tyler County to the Secession Convention in 1861, but before the convention reconvened on March 2 he resigned to raise a company of Texas militia, known locally as the Woodville Rifles. When it was mustered into the Confederate Army at New Orleans in May 1861 it became Company F of the First Texas Infantry Regiment, Hood's Texas Brigade. Upon reorganization of the regiment in May 1862 in Virginia, Work, who had already been promoted to major, was elected lieutenant colonel. He became the regimental commander on June 27 during the battle of Gaines' Mill, after Col. Alexis T. Rainey was wounded. Thereafter, Work commanded the First Texas Infantry in the battles of Malvern Hill, Freeman's Ford, Thoroughfare Gap, Second Manassas, Boonesboro Gap, Sharpsburg or Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg. At Sharpsburg his regiment suffered 82.3 percent casualties, the greatest percentage of losses sustained by any regiment, Union or Confederate, in a single day of fighting during the war. His father, Dr. John Work, was assistant surgeon of the First Texas Infantry from October 1862 to July 1864. Philip Work succeeded to the command of Hood's Brigade on the third day of the battle of Gettysburg. He became ill on September 18, 1863, before the battle of Chickamauga, and had no further field service with his regiment; his resignation as lieutenant colonel of the First Texas Infantry on November 12, 1863, was accepted by the War Department in January 1864. He returned to Texas and, after recovering his health, raised and commanded a company in Col. David Smith Terry's Texas Cavalry regiment from the fall of 1864 to the end of the war. Work resumed his law practice in Woodville, but in October 1865 he moved to New Orleans, where he practiced law and was in the steamboat business. After 1874 he resided in Hardin County, Texas, where he attained eminence as a land lawyer. He also was the owner of the steamboat Tom Parker, which navigated the Neches River. In his later years Work wrote several accounts of his wartime experiences, but only fragments of these manuscripts have been preserved. At Woodville on May 8, 1855, he was married to Adeline F. Lea, and they were the parents of four children. Work died on March 17, 1911, and was buried in the old Hardin Cemetery near Kountze.

Frances Terry Ingmire, comp., Texas Ranger Service Records, 1847–1900 (St. Louis, 1982). Joseph Benjamin Polley, Hood's Texas Brigade (New York: Neale, 1910; rpt., Dayton, Ohio: Morningside Bookshop, 1976). Cooper K. Ragan, "Tyler County Goes to War-1861: Company F, First Texas Regiment, C.S.A.," Texas Military History 1 (November 1961). Harold B. Simpson, Hood's Texas Brigade: A Compendium (Hillsboro, Texas: Hill Junior College Press, 1977). Harold B. Simpson, Hood's Texas Brigade (Waco: Texian Press, 1970). The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (Washington: GPO, 1880–1901).

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

Cooper K. Ragan, “Work, Philip Alexander,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 18, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: