site logo
E. J. Willis (c. 1854)

E. J. Willis (c. 1854)

Confederate (CSV)


Edward Jefferson Willis

(1820 - 1891)

Home State: Virginia

Education: University of Virginia, Law School, Class of 1842

Command Billet: Chaplain/Company Officer

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 15th Virginia Infantry


see his Battle Report

Before Sharpsburg

He began the practice of law in Charlottesville, VA, but in 1849 he went to California, walking from Independence, MO, a distance of 2200 miles. He began the practice of the law in Sacramento, CA and in April 1850 he was elected County Judge there.

In 1854 he was licensed to preach and resigned his judgeship, and in October of the same year was ordained a minister. The Oakland and Sacramento Baptist churches were each organized at his residence, and his first pastorate was with the Oakland church, which continued till 1856. He then returned to Virginia to raise money for his work in California, but remained due to "family illness." By 1860 he was pastor of the Leigh Street church in Richmond, VA.
(from the Baptist Encyclopedia)

He was a Regimental Staff officer, initially appointed Chaplain on 15 May 1862, but was also listed as Captain of Company A.

On the Campaign

He was in command of the Regiment at Sharpsburg on 17 September 1862 as next-senior officer after Captain Morrison was wounded early in the combat. He wrote the Regiment's after-battle report.

The rest of the War

He requested relief from command of his Company in February 1864 to help tend to the needs of his very extended family, but this was not granted. He requested transfer out of the Regiment on 30 September 1864 for medical reasons, and was detached to Confederate States Barracks Hospital in Richmond on 21 October. He was transferred permanently to the Barracks on 11 January 1865.

After the War

For two years, 1865-67, he was pastor at Gordonsville and Orange Court-House, VA. From 1867 to 1869 he was pastor of the church in Alexandria, VA, after which he went as missionary pastor to Winchester,VA. In 1872 took charge of the Winchester Female Institute, and in 1876 the Broaddus Female College (now Alderson-Broaddus College), Philippi, WV.

References & notes

His service from Wallace1 and Manarin.2 Personal details from family genealogists and a biographical sketch in the 1883 Baptist Encyclopedia. His gravesite is on Findagrave. His photograph is from the 100th Anniversary Book, First Baptist Church, Oakland, CA (1954).

He married Virginia Ann Sneed (1825-1875) in April 1843 and they had 9 children. He married again, Mollie Mary Rogers (1840-1891) in about 1877. He married, thirdly, Eva Taylor.

More on the Web

See a Feature about Captain Willis here on AotW.


12/19/1820; Culpeper County, VA


2/26/1891; in VA; burial in Lael Cemetery, Lignum, VA


1   Wallace, Lee A., Jr., A Guide to Virginia Military Organizations 1861 - 1865, 2nd revision, Lynchburg (Va): H. E. Howard, Inc., 1986  [AotW citation 29548]

2   Manarin, Louis H., 15th Virginia Infantry, Lynchburg: H. E. Howard, Inc., 1990  [AotW citation 29549]