Col. John F. Philips

7th Missouri State Militia Cavalry

 John F. Philips

(Wilson's Creek National Battlefield)

John Finis Philips was born in Boone County, Missouri in 1834 where he attended the best public and private schools. Philips graduated from college in 1855 and returned home to study law in law office of John B. Clarke in Fayette, Missouri. Philips was admitted to the bar in 1857. Philips was elected as a delegate to the 1861 Missouri State Convention.

During the first few months of 1862, Philips worked to raise a cavalry regiment. On May 1, 1862, Philips completed the Seventh Missouri State Militia Cavalry Regiment’s organization and was appointed its colonel. For much of the war Col. Philips’ regiment served in the District of Central Missouri fighting the guerrilla insurgency. In 1863, Philips led his regiment against Brig. Gen. Jo Shelby's cavalry forces in the Battle of Marshall during Shelby’s Great Raid. During the fall of 1864, Col. Philips led a cavalry brigade during the Battles of Westport and Mine Creek. After Price’s Raid, Philips assumed command of the District of Central Missouri with headquarters in Warrensburg. Philips was relieved from command of the district on February 24, 1865.

After the war ended, Philips settled in Sedalia, Missouri and formed the law firm of Hicks, Philips & Vest, in partnership with Russell Hicks and George G. Vest. Running as a Democrat, Philips was elected to two terms in Congress. After leaving Congress, Philips moved to Kansas City, Missouri and had the opportunity to defend Frank James during that famous trial at Gallatin, Missouri in 1883. James was acquitted of murder. Philips served as a judge on the Kansas City Court of Appeals and then on the United States District Court.