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Private William H Schell

Private William H Schell
Macon Light Artillery
AKA Phillips Legion Artillery

At first glance, one would wonder why a soldier from the Macon Light Artillery is included with those of the Phillips Legion. There is a reason and an interesting story behind this seeming anomaly. During the spring of 1862 when the Phillips Legion's infantry and cavalry battalions had returned south to Hardeeville, SC to recover from the rigors of their winter campaign in the mountains of western Virginia, Colonel William Phillips went to work with Governor Brown in an effort to expand his Legion. After considerable wrangling with the Confederate government at Richmond, Phillips was permitted to recruit three additional infantry and two additional cavalry companies. Research indicates that he was also attempting to add an artillery battery and this unit was the newly organized Macon Light Artillery. Correspondence found in the compiled service record of battery commander, Captain Henry Ells, clearly indicates that his six gun battery, which was organized and in training at Macon, Ga., was assigned to Phillips Legion in May of 1862. The battery did not join the Legion at Hardeeville and continued to train at Macon until the Legion was moved north to Richmond in late July 1862. The battery soon followed but did not accompany the Legion infantry north in the campaign of Second Manassas and on into Maryland. It is not clear precisely when the organizational bond between the battery and the Legion was eliminated but this certainly was done by the beginning of 1863 when the battery was sent to serve in North Carolina. Another peice of evidence that points to the official link between the Legion and the Macon Light Artillery is the fact that many of the battery's members filed for veteran's pensions listing their unit as the Phillips Legion Artillery.

William H Schell was born in Bavaria, Germany on April 14th 1833. Married to Josephine Welzbacher, born in Macon, he fathered five children. William was a very small man. Descendants recall him as standing less than five feet tall but was irascible and full of fight. He enlisted in the Macon Light Artillery on July 10th, 1862 at Macon just prior to the unit's move north to Richmond, Va., and served reliably throughout the war, earning a promotion to Corporal in early 1863. He was captured at Petersburg, Va. on April 2, 1865 and became a POW at Point Lookout until June 19th 1865 when he was released upon taking the Oath of Allegiance. The physical description on his Oath states him to be four foot nine and three quarters inches tall with dark brown hair and blue eyes. He returned home to Macon and resumed his prewar occupation of tinsmithing. William suffered a stroke at home on December 19th 1898 and died at the age of 65.

Photo courtesy of Ms Margaret S Riggins of Macon, Ga and Mr James Sherling of Jonesboro, Ga.

Written by:Kurt Graham