Camp Burnside, 15 November 1861“I am seated in a tent barely large enough to accomodate three persons but containing six� Yes I am here to participate in the vindication of my country’s honor to oppose armed rebels who seek the subversion of this, the only republican government that deserves the admiration of the world. We are all anxious to meet the enemy of our beautiful country and the spirit of ‘76 dwells in the bosom and strengthens the arm of all who join in the cause. In my God is my firm reliance and should I suddenly be ushered into the unknown world while fighting beneath the Stars and Stripes, I trust all will be well� I am healthier than ever before it seems to me. Our rations have along back consisted of two crackers, a small piece of meat and a cup of coffee. Nice meals to grow fat on! We expect soon to go south and I doubt not but we shall see hard times within the month. Charleston is reserved for us. God is with us and there at Charleston victory awaits�”
The 51st New York saw action at Roanoke Island, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Vicksburg and the Wilderness. Willis mustered into service on 20 September 1861, reenlisted on 25 February 1864 and was discharged for wounds on 1 March 1865 at Douglas Hospital, Washington D.C. He was severely wounded at Petersburg, and had his right leg amputated as a result.
Source: Nate Sanders online auction