(1827 - 1863)
Home State: New York
Command Billet: Commanding Regiment
Branch of Service: Infantry
Unit: 125th New York Infantry
see his Battle Report
He had enlisted in the 15th Ohio Infantry for service in Mexico in 1847, not yet 20 years old. He transferred to the 8th United States Infantry, mustering as Private in Company B on 25 April. He was promoted to Sergeant sometime later (before June 1848), and was conspicuous in action at Chapultepec. By battlefield commission he was appointed Second Lieutenant in the 8th US Infantry (brevet 27 June, full rank 7 August 1848).
After the Mexican War he continued in Regular Army service and was promoted to First Lieutenant on 31 December 1853, Captain on 27 April 1861 - as the Civil War began - and Major of his regiment on 19 February 1862. He had helped raise the Second New York Volunteer Infantry in 1861 and was offered the Colonelcy, but declined rather than resign his Regular commission. He was on the Peninsula Campaign with the 8th US, and was honored by brevet (Lieutenant Colonel USA, 4 July 1862) for his service there.
He was again offered a Volunteer command, this of the new 125th New York Infantry in August 1862, and was able to accept without resigning from the US Army thanks to a change in the Regulations. He mustered as Colonel of the 125th on 27 August 1862.
On the Campaign
He and his command were captured and paroled on 15 September 1862 at Harpers Ferry.
The rest of the War
After being at Camp Douglas, Chicago, they were exchanged and returned to the Army in December 1862. As the senior Colonel, Willard led Hays' Brigade (Alexander Hays promoted to Division command) on the second day's fighting at Gettysburg on 2 July 1863, and was killed in a charge there on Barksdales's Mississippi Brigade. He was honored by his second brevet (Colonel USA, 2 July 1863) for "gallant and meritorious service" at that battle.
References & notes
08/15/1827; New York City, NY
07/02/1863; Gettysburg, PA; burial in Oakwood Cemetery, Troy, NY
1 Heitman, Francis Bernard, Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army 1789-1903, 2 volumes, Washington DC: US Government Printing Office, 1903, Vol. 1, pg. 1038 [AotW citation 1193]
2 Simons, Ezra de Freest (Chaplain), A Regimental History. The One hundred and twenty-fifth New York State Volunteers, New York: Ezra D. Simons and the Judson Printing Co., 1888 [AotW citation 1194]
3 US Army, Heritage and Education Center (USAHEC), Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States (MOLLUS)-Massachusetts Photograph Collection, Published 2009, <https://arena.usahec.org/web/arena>, Source page: pg. 4035 [AotW citation 1195]