Sunday, February 23, 2014

Civil War Vet, Francis Marion Phares (52 Ancestors; week 8)

Francis Marion Phares>Amy Louisa Phares>Florence Eugene Walters>Cecil Lloyd Walters>Charles Lloyd Walters

Francis Marion Phares, often called Frank, was born to Sarah (Marshall) and Samuel Clevenger Phares on January 28, 1836 in Hamilton County, Ohio. When he was about 11, family moved to the area of Clinton in DeWitt County, Illinois.  On January 6, 1861 Frank married Elizabeth McPherson, daughter of Mary (Weaver) and William Alexander McPherson. 

Francis Marion Phares
Civil War
Shortly after the start of the Civil War, on May 8, 1861, Frank enlisted and three months later, on August 5, 1861, Frank mustered in and joined the 41st Illinois Infantry Regiment, Company C. Three days later, the regiment was in St. Louis. A few months after Frank left, sometime in the fall of 1861, Elizabeth gave birth to their first child, Francis. Sadly, the child died in 1863. I wonder if Frank ever got to meet him.

The regiment saw its first action in February 1862 at Fort Henry followed by Fort Donelson. Fighting on the 5th day at Fort Donelson was intense and the 41st Illinois lost 200 men to death or injury on that day. Perhaps Frank was among those 200 as sometime during the fight he suffered an injury to his left eye. Frank lost sight in his eye and, according to his son, carried a Minie ball in his eye for the rest of his life. Despite his injury, Frank continued to serve his country, taking part in several battles including the Battle of Shiloh and the siege at Vicksburg. A detailed account of the 41st Illinois can be found here.

[I hope one day to do more in depth research into Frank’s time during the war. It seems surprising to me that he would be fighting at Shiloh, less than 2 months after losing his eye at Fort Donelson. In my mind his injury seems like something he could understandably use to leave the fighting. Maybe it was common for men with similar injuries to continue fighting; maybe is says a lot about his character--Something to add to my ever growing list of things to research more thoroughly!]

Frank mustered out on August 20, 1864 as a sergeant and returned to Clinton on August 25th where he and his fellow soldiers were welcomed home with great pomp and circumstance. Despite the short notice of the men’s return, the women of Clinton pulled together a grand feast and the celebration included “joyous shaking of hands, friendly greetings, bright smiles, happy faces, and everything calculated to make the evening pleasant and memorable.” A second celebration was planned for two weeks later and Frank’s wife was a part of the planning committee.

Life after the war
Some of the 41st Illinois continued in service and were part of Sherman’s March to the Sea while Frank and the other returning soldiers were mustered out due to a lack of supplies. William Marshall Phares, Frank’s son, wrote a history of the Phares family. William writes that he remembers his father saying “the men were practically barefoot and short of food.”

Following the war, Frank seemed to have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. William Phares writes, “He was subject to the frailties of human nature…and after the hard days of army life during the Civil war, reaction set in….But it lasted only a short while and…he soon adjusted himself to the serious responsibilities of life and home.” 1883 records show Frank being rewarded a pension of $2.00. Hardly seems enough for the loss of an eye!

Frank worked as a farmer and also had an interest in community affairs and held some civil positions. He also ran a drainage tile manufacturing plant and later he purchased a billiard hall in Clinton from his brother John Phares. Frank ran his business with high moral standards and he “would not tolerate swearing or loud and boisterous language, neither would he permit an intoxicated person.”

Frank and Elizabeth had 6 children, including my great-great grandmother, Amy Louisa Phares. Elizabeth died in 1900 and Frank died on August 30, 1919. About 5 years before his death, Frank suffered a stroke and moved in with his daughter Amy in Winterset, Iowa where he died. He is buried alongside Elizabeth in Woodlawn Cemetery in Clinton.

Sources: A Phares family history written by William Marshall Phares by William Marshall Phares, A History of the Marshall and Related Families by Wallace Marshall, Illinois State Marriages, DeWitt GenWeb Project - Civil War News, DeWitt GenWeb Projects – Obituaries, Madison County Iowa - IAGenWeb Project obituaries, U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, Find a Grave.

No comments:

Post a Comment