Walter Phelps

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Walter Phelps Jr.
Colonel Walter Phelps Jr. - 1861
Colonel Walter Phelps Jr., in Virginia in 1862.
Born (1832-10-29)October 29, 1832
Hartford, Connecticut
Died February 28, 1878(1878-02-28) (aged 45)
Bennington, Vermont
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Union Army
Years of service 1861-1865
Rank Colonel
Unit 22nd New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment
Commands held Eastern Iron Brigade
Battles/wars American Civil War
Spouse(s) Eliza Ann Schenk

Walter Phelps Jr. (Oct 29, 1832[1]–February 20, 1878[1]) was an officer in the Union Army throughout the American Civil War, ending the war as commanding general of the First Iron Brigade. Phelps was born in Hartford, Connecticut, but later moved to Glen Falls, New York. The date of his birth was widely unknown because his records were believed to have been lost in a fire in his native home. But researchers recently found his records, diaries and an obituary from his death detailing information on him.

Civil War[edit]

Phelps was appointed colonel of the 22nd New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment which mustered in on June 6, 1861 for two-years service. Phelps later assumed command of the 1st Brigade, 1st Division, I Corps, after General Hatch was transferred out of the brigade.

Colonel Phelps wrote: "In compliance with orders from General Hatch, I assumed command of his brigade Sunday, September 14, [1862] at 10 a.m. The column of General Hooker's corps was then moving through Frederick toward Middletown on the pike."

He was then in command of the First Iron Brigade, which at this time it was known simply as the "Iron Brigade" because the "Iron Brigade of the West" had not gained its acclaim. At the Battle of Antietam however the "Iron Brigade of the East" supported and rescued the "Iron Brigade of the West". Phelps' Iron Brigade advanced through the cornfield early on the September 17 in close support of General John Gibbon's Iron Brigade. The 14th Brooklyn under his command helped the 6th Wisconsin Volunteers as a Confederate charge was about to push them back through the cornfield. Phelps' Brigade got the farthest during the action, the 14th Brooklyn being the only regiment to reach Dunkard Church and hold their waiting for reinforcements to arrive.


General Walter Phelps, a veteran of the rebellion, died suddenly Friday. The Troy Times says of him: "General Phelps was born in Hartford, Conn, in 1829, and went to Glens Falls soon after he had attained his majority, and engaged in the lumber business. At the breaking out of the war in 1861 he raised the 22d New York volun- teers in this vicinity, and went out as colonel in command. He remained in the army until the conclusion of the civil conflict, retiring a brigadier general to which rank he was elevat- ed for meritorious service on the field of battle. He distinguished himself repeatedly in action for bravery and soldiery conduct, and was in nearly all the battles in which the army of the Potomac was engaged. His health was injured during his army life, and for several months after his return home his life was despaired of. He recovered, however, and during the past ten or twelve years he has been successfully engaged in the iron business at Millerton, Dutchess County. General Phelps was a man widely known throughout the country by reason of his business connections, and was universally respected. He was a person of rare scholastic attainments, strong and enduring attachments and great firmness of purpose. He was particularly well known and beloved in this city and vicinity, and many friends will regret his sudden and unexpected demise."[2]

Phelps died in Bennington, Vermont on February 28, 1878.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Phelps, Oliver Seymour; Servin, Andrew T. (1899). The Phelps Family of America and their English Ancestors. Pittsfield, Massachusetts: Eagle Publishing Company. 
  2. ^ Unknown. Syracuse Sunday Courier, March 3, 1878. Retrieved 2008-10-09.