William Phillips (1731-81)
by Robert P.
an Artillery Officer, General Phillips is regarded as one of the most
competent and resourceful commanders in America. Having attained
great fame during the Seven Years War in Germany, Phillips achieved
even greater accomplishments in America. He was the heroic Deputy
Commander to John Burgoyne during the fateful campaign that resulted
in the loss of the army at the battles of Saratoga. He was then the
compassionate and articulate commander of Burgoyne's captured troops
of the Convention until his exchange. After his exchange back to
British service, Phillips was promptly given command of British
forces in Virginia. His James River Campaign through Virginia, which
included the Battle of Petersburg (25 April 1781) may have been one
the British army's most successful campaigns of the entire war.
Tragically, Phillips' final campaign fell into total obscurity as a
result of his untimely death from fever, and the closely following
surrender of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia in October of that
Jäger Captain Johann Ewald described him:
One saw in him and his precautions that he was worthy of
commanding men, and one recognised in him the skillful and
industrious officer. The general drove everyone zealously to his
duty. But he was the most pleasant, unselfish, and courteous man in
Robert P. Davis tells us:
- Near the south wall of Old Blandford Church in Petersburg,
Virginia, stands a Memorial to Major General William Phillips,
British Royal Artillery, 1731-1781. Phillips died on 13 May 1781
of a "bilious fever", believed to have been either typhus or
malaria, just a few days following the close of his James River
Campaign through Virginia.
The Memorial was placed by the Francis Bland Chapter of the
Daughters of the American Revolution, near the site where Brigadier
General Benedict Arnold ordered General Phillips to be buried in
secret. All that is known for certain is that the actual grave is
somewhere in the old cemetery in the area of the northeast angle of
the outer church wall.
TO THE MEMORY OF
ERECTED BY THE FRANCIS BLAND
MAJ. GEN. WM PHILLIPS
OF THE BRITISH ARMY WHO
DIED AT "BOLLINGBROOK"
MAY 23, 1781
AND WHOSE REMAINS LIE
BURIED IN THIS CHURCH YARD
RANDOLPH CHAPTER D.A.R.
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