March 20, 2016

Albert Gallatin Willis

This afternoon I stopped at the Flint Hill Baptist Church because a sign indicated that there was a Civil War Trails marker. I was curious to see what the marker was for and also to view the little church. The marker turned out to be behind the church near this monument.

"Albert Gallatin Willis" – the name was familiar. It turned out he was a member of Mosby's Rangers and I have heard many stories about them. I toured quite a few Mosby-related sites with Professor Poland's Civil War classes and a read at least one memoir by a member of the Rangers.

Albert Gallatin Willis
A Life Laid Down for a Friend
This is the burial site of a Mosby Ranger who sacrificed himself for a friend. By the autumn of 1864, Confederate John S. Mosby’s Rangers had so harassed Union troops, supply lines, and railroads in northern Virginia that Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant ordered, “Where any of Mosby’s men are caught, hang them without a trial.” Six Rangers were summarily executed in Front Royal on September 23; one dragged through the streets as his mother begged for his life. 
On October 10, Rangers on the Chancellor farm near here captured a Federal soldier posing as a Confederate and hanged him on the spot. In retaliation, Union Gen. William H. Powell burned the farm buildings. On the afternoon of October 12, Ranger Albert Gallatin Willis, a ministerial student, shared a meal with Miss Lucy Twisdale, here at Rose Cliff. Shortly thereafter he and another Ranger were captured at the blacksmith shop on Ben Venue plantation and taken to the Marlow farm near the Chester Gap Turnpike at the foot of the Blue Ridge. Powell ordered that one of them be executed. Willis’s companion was initially chosen. He begged for his life, as he was married, had a family, and was not prepared to die. Willis, who was single, offered to take his place, then prayed for the executioners. He was hanged the next day from a poplar tree on the Marlow farm. Lucy Twisdale and three male friends retrieved Willis’s body and buried him in the corner of this churchyard.
You can read the rest of the sign on The story sounds harsh today, but if you consider that the United States Army considered Mosby's Rangers to be terrorists, it makes more sense.

Sharing with Sundays in My City 


  1. Interesting background story. Willis was brave to give up his life for his comrade.

  2. I have a friend who is in a club of civil war historians who has a very extensive library and always fun to hear talk.

  3. Good to have the plaque. Mosby and his men built themselves quite a reputation over the war.

  4. A brave young man. We have a John Moseby Hwy that we take all the time. There was a big battle fought between the Moseby Rangers and the Union Army not too far from here. A very interesting post Linda.

  5. So many horrors of war. It's hard for me to even think about it. There is much history to learn about there.

  6. I think it always good to have these in order that we may remember and reflect.

    All the best Jan


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