Rank and organization: Coxswain, U.S. Navy. Born: 1826, England. Accredited
to: Pennsylvania. G.O. No.: 59, 22 June 1865.
Citation: 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.
This data was extracted from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S. Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863-1973 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1973)