George W. Phillips was born on April 27, 1821, in New York, probably the son of Westcot (b. 1792) and Hannah (b. 1795).
George married Pennsylvania native Margaret (b. 1827) and they had at least four children: Susan M. (b. 1845), John W. (b. 1849), William (b. 1864) and Dollie (b. 1866).
George and Margaret were living in Pennsylvania in 1845 when their daughter was born, but by 1849 had settled in Michigan. By 1850 George was working as a shoemaker living in Berlin (Saranac), Ionia County, with his wife and two children; next door lived another shoemaker, Westcot Phillips and his wife Hannah. By 1860 George was working as a farmer and shoemaker living in Berlin (Saranac), Ionia County.
At some point George was elected or appointed Second Lieutenant of the Boston Light Guards, the prewar militia company in Ionia County whose members formed the nucleus of Company D (commanded by Captain Ambrose Stevens, also from Ionia County and who would become Lieutenant Colonel of the Third Michigan infantry).
George was 40 years old when he enlisted as Second Lieutenant in Company D on May 13, 1861. (Company D was composed in large part of men who came from western Ionia County and Eaton County.) There was also another George W. Phillips, age 20 from Gratiot or Ionia County who also enlisted in Company D. (He would eventually transfer to or reenter the service in the Twenty-first Michigan infantry, commanded by Colonel Ambrose Stevens. Stevens had been Lieutenant Colonel of the Third Michigan infantry and before the war had served as commander of the local militia from Ionia County.)
Lieutenant George Phillips resigned on account of chronic diarrhea on July 29, 1861.
Upon his return to Ionia County George apparently caused some antagonism between himself and at least one of his former comrades in Company D. On August 11, 1861, Hiel P. Clark of Company D, and also from Ionia County, wrote home and alluded in his letter to something he had been told by a family member in a previous letter regarding Phillips. At the end of his letter Clark says “that story of George Phillips is a lie; he has told some of the biggest lies since he got back that ever any man told, and not one truth.”
It appears that George reentered the service as a Sergeant in Company B, Third Reorganized Michigan infantry on September 1, 1864, for 3 years, and was mustered the same day, crediting Muskegon, Muskegon County.
He eventually returned to Michigan. By 1870 he and Margaret and their two younger children, William and Dollie were living on a farm in New Haven, Gratiot County in 1870. By 1880 George and Margaret were divorced; he was working as a shoemaker and living in Saranac, Ionia County in 1880; also living with George were his parents Hannah and Westcot as well as two children: William and Dollie, while Margaret was also listed as living in Saranac in 1880. George W. eventually settled in Gratiot County – possibly to be near his son William – and was living in Sumner, Gratiot County in 1890 and 1894. In 1920 George was working as a “cobbler” and living as a widower (?) and listed as the head of the household, in Sumner, Gratiot County; next door is his son (?) William and his family.
George was living in Michigan in 1889 when he applied for and received a pension (no. 844758), for service in both organizations of the Third Michigan infantry.
George died in Sumner on September 22, 1905, and was reportedly buried in Sumner cemetery. (Also buried there is one Emma Phillips, 1866-1922, listed as “Mother.”)