Did you know that . . . a Civil War hero is buried in Flint Hill, but his name is unknown to most people today? According to the Virginia Dept. of Historic Resources, “Pvt. Albert Gallatin Willis, one of Col. John S. Mosby’s Partisan Rangers and at least one other Ranger were captured about 13 Oct. 1864 near Gaines Crossroads, Va. (present-day Ben Venue) by Union Brig. Gen. William H. Powell’s U.S. 2d Cavalry Division. During the Civil War, many Federals considered partisans civilian bushwhackers, not regular soldiers. Powell, in reprisal for what he called the ‘murder’ of a U.S. soldier by alleged partisans, ordered one of the two Rangers executed.”
Additional sources explain that a Northern deserter was found near Flint Hill and killed by Confederate soldiers. Though the man had deserted, Federal troops sought revenge and captured two of Mosby’s men, including Willis, a young Baptist preacher. The soldiers condemned one of them to die, forcing them to draw straws to determine the outcome.
Willis’ companion drew the shorter straw, but pleaded for mercy because he was married with five children, whereupon Willis, who had no dependents, volunteered his own life instead. Willis was hanged from a tree near the base of Chester Gap, just south of the Willis Memorial Chapel, on Oct. 14, and buried in a little fenced-in plot behind the Flint Hill Baptist Church. A Virginia Civil War Trails Marker is to be placed near Willis’ grave in the near future.
Visit the Willis grave, then come see us in the little red brick building at 328 Gay St. in Washington. And do become a member of the Society.
Rappahannock Historical Society
328 Gay St., Washington
Call 540-675-1163 or e-mail email@example.com