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 Phelps, John W., brigadier-general, was born in Guilford, 
Vt., Nov. 13, 1813.  He was graduated at the United States 
military academy in 1836 and served in the Florida war, 1836-
39, on the Canadian frontier during the border disturbances, 
then at various forts, and in the Mexican war.  In the latter 
conflict he took part in the battles of Vera Cruz, Contreras 
and Churubusco, and was brevetted captain for gallantry but 
declined, and in 1850 was promoted to the full rank of captain.  
He resigned from the service, Nov. 2, 1859, and took up his 
residence in Brattleboro, Vt., where he wrote many articles 
against the aggression of the slave power.  When the Civil war 
broke out he became colonel of the 1st Vt. infantry, May 9, 
1861, and on May I7 he was commissioned brigadier-general of 
volunteers.  He took possession of and held Newport News for 
the defense of Hampton Roads, from May to November, being 
engaged in several skirmishes, and was then transferred to the 
Department of the Gulf, where he took possession of Ship 
island, Miss., and with Commodore Farragut's fleet forced the 
opening of the lower Mississippi in April and May, 1862.  While 
in garrison in Camp Parapet, La., in 1862, he organized the 
first negro troops, but was ordered by the government commander 
to cease such organization, and on that account he resigned, 
Aug. 21, 1862.  For his action in organizing the negroes the 
Confederate government declared him an outlaw.  When the 
negroes were finally armed he declined a commission as major-
general of colored troops, and he spent the rest of his life in 
Brattleboro, Vt.  He was the candidate for the presidency of 
the United States on the American ticket in 1880.  He devoted 
his attention principally to literary work, and was vice-
president of the Vermont Historical society, 1863-85, and of 
the Vermont Teachers' association, 1865-85.  He died in 
Guilford, Vt., Feb. 2, 1885.

Union General John W Phelps 1st Vermont

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