Captain Nathaniel Green Philips

Thomas' Legion
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Captain Nathaniel Green Philips (a.k.a. N. G. PHILLIPS)
Company I, Thomas' Legion of Cherokee Indians and Highlanders
Date Enlisted: July 24, 1862
Residence: Cherokee County
Commissioned: 2nd Lt., July 24, 1862; 1st Lt., January 7, 1864; Captain, October 1864(?)

Captain Willis Parker tendered his captain resignation on December 26, 1863, by reason of age and ill-health, and mustered-out at Bull's Gap, Tennessee. General Samuel Cooper recorded Parker's resignation for the Adjutant and Inspector General's Office (A&IGO) on January 7, 1864. (Confederate War Record, National Archives). On January 7, 1864, Captain Joseph Anderson Kimsey assumed command of Company I, Thomas' Legion.

Thomas' Legion Muster Records: Company I – Cherokee County – Willis Parker, Captain, and Jos. A. Kimsey, [Joseph Anderson Kimsey] Captain; Sol. E. Egan, First Lieutenant, all of Cherokee county; N. G. Philips [Nathaniel Green Philips], First and Second Lieutenant, and P. B. Gailer, Second Lieutenant, both of Graham county. Number of officers and men, 109.

On July 24, 1862, Company I initially mustered as Company D, Walker's Battalion, at Valleytown, Cherokee County, North Carolina. On September 27, 1862, when the Thomas Legion officially mustered at Knoxville, it became Company I, Infantry Regiment, Thomas' Legion. After the Battle of Cedar Creek, October 19, 1864, Companies C and I were temporarily consolidated under the command of Captain Nathan G. Philips. Company I was also involved in the Skirmish at Hanging Dog (includes details and contributions of Company I and Nathaniel Green Philips).

John H. Stewart's account of Company I, Thomas' Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers: "Col. Thomas sent Captains Commissions to J. W. Cooper of Cheoah and Willis Parker of Valley River late in 1861 or early in 1862 and asked each of them to get up a Company to join his Regiment. They each made up a Company, Cooper's Company camped at what is now Robbinsville. Parker's Company camped at what is now Marble and called it Camp Valley Town. I joined Parker's Company. Both Companies drilled at their camps for a short time and then were ordered to Chilhowie [Chilhowee: as the crow flies, it is about 20 miles from Andrews, NC], Tennessee and there drilled until further orders. From that time until near Christmas 1864, the two Companies were together in the 69th Regiment part of Thomas' Legion. They were together every day, in camp, on the march and in battles."

N. G. Philips* letter to Col. Cathey, December 24, 1863. The letter reflects Cherokee County's lawlessness and depredations (also see Shelton Laurel Massacre):


Valley Town, [Cherokee County] NC
Dec 24 1863

Col Cathey sir the condi
tion of this county renders
it untenable the yankies
and Bushwhackers have
Ruined it, & I will have
to move my family out
& as I will soon have
to Return to the army
I want to move them
in to your county
& my Father is a good
miller & if you have
a good mill he will take
it, & he can bring as good
a Recommendation as you
may desire. I want a house &
8 or ten acres of land

for my family & my
father & mother want
to ____ go with me
I hope you will try
to help me I have been
in the Service nearly three
years & my family has not
got provisions to Do them
a month & the frost &
the Bushwhackers &
Yankies has Ruined this
County so it is impossible
for them to stay here
Let me hear from
you by the first mail
as what I do I must
do promptly Direct your
letters to
Valley Town
North Carolina
Yous Best
N.G. Philips

*N. G. Philips, Valley Town, North Carolina, to Col. Cathey, December 24, 1863. Philips writes that wartime conditions in Cherokee County, North Carolina, have made life in his area untenable and seeks Cathey’s assistance in relocating his family to another area before he has to return to military service. Nathaniel Green Philips of Cherokee County, North Carolina, initially enlisted in Company D, 25th North Carolina Infantry Regiment, in June, 1861, and subsequently served with the Thomas Legion. Philips was sometimes spelled Phillips in the census records. 
The real Private W. P. Inman, portrayed by Jude Law in the movie Cold Mountain, was a Haywood County highlander who served in Company F, Twenty-fifth North Carolina Infantry Regiment. 
Credits: (North Carolina Troops, vol. 7, p. 396). Courtesy of Hunter Library, Western Carolina University.

Recommended Reading: Storm in the Mountains: Thomas' Confederate Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers (Thomas' Legion: The Sixty-ninth North Carolina Regiment). Description: Vernon H. Crow, Storm in the Mountains, dedicated an unprecedented 10 years of his life to this first yet detailed history of the Thomas Legion. But it must be said that this priceless addition has placed into our hands the rich story of an otherwise forgotten era of the Eastern Cherokee Indians and the mountain men of both East Tennessee and western North Carolina who would fill the ranks of the Thomas Legion during the four year Civil War. Crow sought out every available primary and secondary source by traveling to several states and visiting from ancestors of the Thomas Legion to special collections, libraries, universities, museums, including the Museum of the Cherokee, to various state archives and a host of other locales for any material on the unit in order to preserve and present the most accurate and thorough record of the legion. Crow, during his exhaustive fact-finding, was granted access to rare manuscripts, special collections, privately held diaries, and never before seen nor published photos and facts of this only legion from North Carolina. Crow remains absent from the text as he gives a readable account of each unit within the legion's organization, and he includes a full-length roster detailing each of the men who served in its ranks, including dates of service to some interesting lesser known facts.

Storm in the Mountains, Thomas' Confederate Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers is presented in a readable manner that is attractive to any student and reader of American history, Civil War, North Carolina studies, Cherokee Indians, ideologies and sectionalism, and I would be remiss without including the lay and professional genealogist since the work contains facts from ancestors, including grandchildren, some of which Crow spent days and overnights with, that further complement the legion's roster with the many names, dates, commendations, transfers, battle reports, with those wounded, captured, and killed, to lesser yet interesting facts for some of the men. Crow was motivated with the desire to preserve history that had long since been overlooked and forgotten and by each passing decade it only sank deeper into the annals of obscurity. Crow had spent and dedicated a 10 year span of his life to full-time research of the Thomas Legion, and this fine work discusses much more than the unit's formation, its Cherokee Indians, fighting history, and staff member narratives, including the legion's commander, Cherokee chief and Confederate colonel, William Holland Thomas. Numerous maps and photos also allow the reader to better understand and relate to the subjects. Storm in the Mountains, Thomas' Confederate Legion of Cherokee Indians and Mountaineers is highly commended, absolutely recommended, and to think that over the span of a decade Crow, for us, would meticulously research the unit and present the most factual and precise story of the men, the soldiers who formed, served, and died in the famed Thomas Legion.

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Additional Reading:

Recommended Reading: North Carolina Troops, 1861-1865: A Roster (Volume XVI: Thomas's Legion) (Hardcover) (537 pages), North Carolina Office of Archives and History. Description: The volume begins with an authoritative 246-page history of Thomas's Legion. The history, including Civil War battles and campaigns, is followed by a complete roster and service records of the field officers, staff, and troops that served in the legion. A thorough index completes the volume. Continued below.

Volume XVI of North Carolina Troops: A Roster contains the history and roster of the most unusual North Carolina Confederate Civil War unit, significant because of the large number of Cherokee Indians who served in its ranks. Thomas's Legion was the creation of William Holland Thomas, an influential businessman, state legislator, and Cherokee chief. He initially raised a small battalion of Cherokees in April 1862, and gradually expanded his command with companies of white soldiers raised in western North Carolina, eastern Tennessee, and Virginia. By the end of 1862, Thomas's Legion comprised an infantry regiment and a battalion of infantry and cavalry. An artillery battery was added in April 1863. Furthermore, in General Early's Army of the Valley, the Thomas Legion was well-known for its fighting prowess. It is also known for its pivotal role in the last Civil War battle east of the Mississippi River. The Thomas Legion mustered more than 2,500 soldiers and it closely resembled a brigade. With troop roster, muster records, and Compiled Military Service Records (CMSR) this volume is also a must have for anyone interested in genealogy and researching Civil War ancestors. Simply stated, it is an outstanding source for genealogists.


Recommended Reading: The Life of Johnny Reb: The Common Soldier of the Confederacy (444 pages) (Louisiana State University Press) (Updated edition: November 2007) Description: The Life of Johnny Reb does not merely describe the battles and skirmishes fought by the Confederate foot soldier. Rather, it provides an intimate history of a soldier's daily life--the songs he sang, the foods he ate, the hopes and fears he experienced, the reasons he fought. Wiley examined countless letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, and official records to construct this frequently poignant, sometimes humorous account of the life of Johnny Reb. In a new foreword for this updated edition, Civil War expert James I. Robertson, Jr., explores the exemplary career of Bell Irvin Wiley, who championed the common folk, whom he saw as ensnared in the great conflict of the 1860s. Continued below.

About Johnny Reb: 

"A Civil War classic."--Florida Historical Quarterly

"This book deserves to be on the shelf of every Civil War modeler and enthusiast."--Model Retailer 

"[Wiley] has painted with skill a picture of the life of the Confederate private. . . . It is a picture that is not only by far the most complete we have ever had but perhaps the best of its kind we ever shall have."--Saturday Review of Literature

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Tracing Your Civil War Ancestor provides you with:
-- The names and addresses of all state archives.
-- Names and addresses of institutions that hold microfilmed service records from the national archives.
-- Names and publishers of useful regional Civil War reference books.
-- Names and publishers of sourcebooks for identifying Civil War weapons and accoutrements.
-- And much more.
Historians, genealogists, antique dealers, and collectors of Civil War artifacts will find this concise guidebook of great value. But most of all it is of inestimable practical value to family historians, North and South, who are discovering the pleasure and satisfaction of compiling an accurate family history. "[A] must have for the individual researching Civil War soldiers, ancestors' military service records, Union and Confederate army records, compiled military service records (CMSR), and for the family genealogist." If you are remotely into genealogy, then this book is for you.
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