George W. Phillips was born in 1840, in New York.
George was 21 years old and probably living in Gratiot County, Michigan, when he enlisted, possibly with George W. Phillips (elder), in Company D on May 13, 1861. His name was “stricken from the rolls” on January 1, 1862. It was claimed that he was left sick at Grand Rapids when the Regiment departed from Washington, DC, on June 13, 1861, and according to regimental records “has since died.”
In fact George did not die but returned home, or at least to Ionia County, and was living in Pewamo, Ionia County when he reentered the service as a Private, age 22, on August 11, 1862, in Company D, Twenty-first Michigan infantry, while the regiment was being formed and was mustered in on September 3. He stood 5’10’, with light complexion, blue eyes and light hair. (Interestingly, Colonel Ambrose Stevens who commanded the Twenty-first Michigan had served as Lieutenant Colonel of the Third Michigan and was also from Ionia County.)
The Twenty-first was organized at Ionia and Grand Rapids and mustered into service on September 9, and left Michigan for Louisville, Kentucky, on September 12.
According to a Detroit newspaper,
The Twenty-first regiment arrived in town about half-past three o’clock on Friday afternoon, en route to Cincinnati. On alighting from the cars they formed in line, and, headed by the Germania Band, marched through some of the principal streets. Their passage through the city attracted large crowds, and their fine, soldierly appearance, and the order with which they marched was the subject of universal commendation. The crowds upon the sidewalks cheered them lustily as they passed, and ladies waved their handkerchiefs from windows and balconies. They bore with them the magnificent flag whjch was presented by the ladies of Ionia, and also the regimental colors.
After marching through the city, they returned to the Milwaukee dock, where, through the liberality of our citizens, an ample collation had been spread for them. Sandwiches, cakes, coffee and fruit, in generous abundance, constituted the bill of fare. After fully supplying the wants of the inner man, and resting an hour, they marched on board the steamer Morning Star which was to convey them to Cleveland.
The regiment certainly made a fine appearance, and is deserving of all that may be said in its favor. It is well-equipped and its rank and file is composed of the sturdy yeomanry of central and Western Michigan, who will give a good account of themselves wherever they may be. The reputation of the old Michigan Third regiment is sufficient proof of what kind of men Ionia, Kent, Barry and the northern counties produce. We have no fears that this reputation will suffer at the hands of the Twenty-first.
It is believed that the appointment of the officers has been made on the score of merit alone. Col. Stevens was Lieutenant Colonel of the old Third, and a more brave and efficient officer does not exist. His appointment to the command of this regiment was well deserved, as is shown by his already valuable services in the field. In the recent battles in Virginia he distinguished himself as a brave soldier and skillful officer, having command of the regiment for a time, the colonel [Stephen Champlin] being severely wounded and carried from the field. He was highly esteemed by both officers and men, who bear testimony to his sterling qualities as a gentleman and soldier. Under his leadership there can be no doubt that the Twenty-first will do credit to themselves and the State, when an opportunity shall occur for a display of their fighting qualities.
Shortly after arriving in Kentucky the Twenty-first was engaged in the pursuit of General Bragg to Crab Orchard, Kentucky from October 1-16, and participated in battle for Perryville on October 8. Stevens was wounded slightly on October 5, 1862, (reportedly at Perryville).
George was mustered out on June 8, 1865, in Washington, DC.
He eventually returned to Michigan, probably to Pewamo where by 1870 he was working as a laborer for and/or living with the Bissell family. By 1880 working as a servant for and living with the Lafayette Trask family in Pewamo, or he may have been working as a carpenter and living with the William Matthews family in Odessa, Ionia County. He eventually moved north to Benzie County and for some years worked as a farmer in the vicinity of Frankfort, Crystal Lake Township. He was living in Crystal Lake in 1890 and in Frankfort when he was admitted as a married man to the Michigan soldier’s Home in Grand Rapids, Kent County, on December 21, 1906 (no. 4898).
He was married to a woman named Mary L.
He was still living in Michigan in 1891 when he applied for and received a pension (no. 886431), for his service in both the Third and Twenty-first regiments. George was a Protestant.
George was living at the Home when he died of uremic poisoning at 8:00 pm, on June 4, 1910, and the funeral was held at 2:30 pm on June 7, in the Home chapel; they were reportedly no relatives in attendance. He was buried on June 8 in the Home cemetery: section 5, row 7, grave 5.
Although his death certificate listed him as a widower, in fact immediately aftere his death George’s widow, Mary L. Phillips, who was residing in Michigan, applied for and received a pension (no. 734578).