Albert Gallatin Willis

Albert Gallatin Willis (HMXF4)

Location: Flint Hill, VA 22627 Rappahannock County
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 45.851', W 78° 5.971'

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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.

(Sidebar): On November 6, 1864, in retaliation for Willis and the six Rangers killed in Front Royal, Mosby had twenty-odd Union prisoners from Custer and Powell's commands draw lots. Near Berryville, seven men were selected for execution: three were hanged, two were shot, and two escaped. Mosby wrote to Union Gen. Philip H. Sheridan that future "prisoners falling into my hands will be treated with ? kindness, unless some new act of barbarity shall compel me to adopt a policy repugnant to humanity." No more summary executions to either side occurred in Mosby's Confederacy.
HM NumberHMXF4
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByVirginia Civil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Sunday, August 31st, 2014 at 7:15pm PDT -07:00
Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)17S E 752012 N 4294604
Decimal Degrees38.76418333, -78.09951667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 45.851', W 78° 5.971'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 45' 51.06" N, 78° 5' 58.26" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)540
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 634 Zachary Taylor Hwy, Flint Hill VA 22627, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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