Courtesy of Gayle Mandell

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES: The following excerpt is from the “Confederate Veteran” 
magazine. Vol 12, No 3, March, 1904

“They were lovely and pleasant in their lives,
And in their death they were not divided.”

The blue curtain of the skies that shuts from mortal sight the glory of the ‘better country” has 
parted to admit into that celestial paradise two whose lives and hearts were knit together with 
the bonds of everlasting affection. For forty-seven years and four months of happy married life 
they had walked together. On the 7th of May, 1903, Mrs. Gayle passed away, and on the 
22nd her husband’s spirit went to meet her in the Father’s home.

They were both natives of Alabama, Mrs. Gayle being born in Green County March 28, 
1837, and Mr. Gayle in Cahaba, Dallas County, April 13, 1831. Mrs. Gayle was the 
daughter of Col. William and Lucy Armistead, formerly of Virginia. She received a classical 
education at the select school of Mrs. Meade, in Richmond. Mr. Phillips H. S. Gayle was the 
son of Matthew and Amaranth Gayle. His parents were originally South Carolinians, and his 
near kinsman, John Gayle, was the seventh Governor of Alabama. Graduating with high 
honors at the University of Georgia, he received the medal for oratory, and prepared to enter 
upon the practice of law.

When the Confederate States came into existence, he at once allied himself with its interests, 
and he be-came the private secretary of Gen. Leroy Pope Walker, Secretary of War. As 
such he sent the telegram from the capital of the Confederacy commanding Gen. Beauregard 
to fire on Fort Sumter, “the shot that rang around the world.”

But his soul longed for more active service, and when the Cabinet moved to Richmond he 
resigned his position as secretary to the Secretary of War and entered the field service of the 
Confederate Army.

He declined to accept any office, but often performed duties of trust. Under his personal care 
the wife and daughter of his commanding general were safely escorted through the lines to their 

At the close of the war he, like the majority of the Confederate soldiers, was compelled to 
battle with depressing financial circumstances, but in that patient way which characterized him 
through life he began upon a small salary. Among the first positions that he held was that of 
bookkeeper and confidential clerk of one of the largest wholesale firms of Montgomery. With 
his fine business training and sterling qualities, he soon became a member of a leading cotton 
firm of the State, and continued his successful business career with them until his death. He 
was gentle, kind, and considerate to his employees, and was consulted with every confidence 
by those with whom he came in contact in his business life. His word was his bond, and his 
name was the synonym of honor and uprightness. He never injured any one by word or deed, 
and no man in Alabama possessed a wider influence for good or had a more enviable 
reputation. He was the best of husbands, and as a father,

“Quick in love, wakeful in care,
Tenacious of his trust, proof in experience,
Severe in honor, perfect in example,
Stamped with authority.”

Phillips and Mary (Armistead) Gayle were married January 30, 1855. Their four children 
were William Armistead, Joseph Phillips, Lucy Herbert, and Mary Semple, who married Dr. 
William Lamar Law.

No note of discord or disturbance ever marred his fireside. He and his family were woven 
together in bonds of love, and the home love was radiant with the influence of his ripened 
Christian character.

From the early age of twenty, when at the university, his lovely Christian disposition began to 
exercise its influence upon his fellow-students, and continued with associates to the last 
moment of his long and useful life. He so lived that men took notice of him “that he had been 
with Jesus,” and now there are many business men of Montgomery who are trying to imitate 
his Christian lefe and sterling qualities.

He was known throughout the State as an active Christian layman. Although favored with a 
fine university education, and living in an atmosphere of refinement and culture, yet his heart 
yearned toward his brethren who were not so fortunately situated. He delighted at all time to 
be identified as a Christian worker among the poor, and remembrance of his gentle presence 
at the bedside of the sick and dying adds luster to his worthy memory.

Among all his Christian graces he was preeminently a patient man. While his sufferings were of 
the most intense character, he never complained. His last words were a testimony to his faith 
in the highest powers, but, impressive as they were at that time, they confirmed the testimony 
of his long and useful life, which had been one of consecrated faith and love.

Mrs. Gayle was one of the charter members of the Ladies’ Memorial Association, and also of 
the Sophie Bibb Chapter, U.D.C. During the eventful years of the War between the States 
she was unselfish in her devotion to the cause. No call was ever made on the women of the 
South or of Montgomery, whether for private necessities, or public emergencies, that was not 
responded to by her. Clothing for the boys in the field, and loving, generous care for the 
families of the absent ones were among the constant evidences of her loving heart. Her 
husband was in the front of the fray, and her two brothers were Maj. Robert and Lieut. Col. 
Herbert Armistead, of the Twenty-Second Regiment of Alabama Volunteers. Both were slain 
in battle – the one at Shiloh and the other at Franklin. They gave generously of their means for 
the equipment of that splendid body of men who were so courageously and faithfully led by 
Gen. Deas.

The family of Armistead are descended from a long line of patriots and brave men. Among 
them was the gifted Speaker Robinson, of Virginia, who was the first Speaker of the House of 
Burgesses, the friend and compeer of George Washington. There was also the Armistead of 
Fort MCHenry defending the flag while Francis Scott Key was writing the “Star-Spangled 
Banner;” and at Gettysburg the only stone erected by the Federals at the crest where the tide 
of battle turned, and the tide of Confederate success began to wane, bears the name of Louis 
Armistead. A short while before Mrs. Gayle’s death, a touching incident occurred. Veteran 
Cooper, of the Twenty-Second Alabama Regiment, brought to her the flag of that regiment, 
which had first been received from the ladies of Mobile by her brother, Maj. Robert 
Armistead. When the color bearer was killed in the last action of the war, Veteran Cooper 
took the flag from the faithful hand of the dead and bore it home.

Mrs. Gayle was always actively interested in the work of the Memorial Association, but 
persistently declined to accept any office, though often solicited to do so. For more than a 
year before her death she was the constant companion and nurse of her invalid husband. This 
devotion sapped her strength, and she became an easy prey to pneumonia, but she bravely 
kept her place by his side until forced to leave in the unselfish fear lest her cough might disturb 
him. Quickly the end came, and he knew it not. Friends and loved ones passed softly to and 
fro about the lovely form from which the spirit had vanished, fearing lest a sob or sigh might tell 
him of his bereavement. It was only fifteen days before her beloved husband fell on sleep and 
was laid beside her in “God’s Acre.”

Perhaps in no trait of character were they more congenial than modesty. Honors possessed 
for them no charm. Home was their chosen sphere, and yet as patriots and in the Church they 
were prominent. Their service in the Methodist Church was a mutual pleasure, and is a part of 
the history of a congregation which must ever gratefully remember their quiet help in times of 

Mrs. Gayle’s gentle womanliness and amiability found a counterpart in one of the kindest 
hearts that ever beat in manly breast. Together they lived and loved, serving each other, their 
home, their country, and their God.

A prominent trait of this noble woman was that she seemed to possess the secret of perpetual 
youth. Years only added to the grace and charm of her light and winsome manners. Always 
hopeful, looking on the bright side of every subject, keeping abreast of the age in her reading 
and her thoughts, she was the center of attraction for the young people who knew her. Her 
piety was unostentatious. It had not the noise of the cataract, but resembled the deep calm of 
the flowing river. It was like the dew in the quiet manner in which it performs its ministry. It 
falls silently and imperceptibly; it is noiseless, no one hears it dropping; it chooses the darkness 
of the night, while men are sleeping, and when no man can witness its beautiful work. It covers 
the leaves with clusters of pearls; it steals into the bosom of the flowers and leaves a new 
cupful of sweetness there, in the morning there is new life and fresh beauty everywhere – the 
fields are green and the gardens more fragrant, and all nature speaks with a new splendor. It 
was in this manner that this lovely couple did the best work of their lives, and in so doing 
preferred that their influence should be felt rather than seen or heard. Their best gifts were 
scattered so silently and secretly that no one in this life will ever know by what hand they were