of the United States
in the name of
takes pleasure in presenting the
Medal of Honor
Rank and Organization: Coxswain, U.S. Navy. Born: 1826, England. Accredited
To: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865.
Willis served on board the U.S.S. New Ironsides during action in several attacks on
Fort Fisher, 24 and 25 December 1864; and 13, 14 and 15 January 1865. The ship steamed in
and took the lead in the ironclad division close inshore and immediately opened its
starboard battery in a barrage of well-directed fire to cause several fires and explosions
and dismount several guns during the first 2 days of fighting. Taken under fire as she
steamed into position on 13 January, the New Ironsides fought all day and took on
ammunition at night, despite severe weather conditions. When the enemy troops came out of
their bombproofs to defend the fort against the storming party, the ship's battery
disabled nearly every gun on the fort facing the shore before the ceasefire order was
given by the flagship.
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