Company H, "Willis Company", 119th NY

The following is taken from the book Long Island and the Civil War by Harrison Hunt and Bill Bleyer, the History Press, 2015 (available on Amazon):

One of only two infantry companies raised within Queens County, Company H of the 119th was organized in Hempstead and North Hempstead by lawyer Benjamin Willis of Roslyn.  Willis held recruiting rallies in Hempstead, Roslyn, Baldwin, Freeport and the Rockaways in August 1862, challenging men to "prove yourself worthy of the nineteenth century!"  One hundred patriotic men responded, including nineteen-year-old painter's assistant Charles Fletcher Raynor of Baldwin; John Cornelius, a hostler or groom from Hempstead; Roslyn harness maker Alfred Noon; thirty-three-year-old ship joiner George Rudyard of North Hempstead; John Albro, a bayman from Far Rockaway; and German immigrant Henry Camps, a Hempstead farm laborer.  When the company was accepted for service, Willis was commissioned a Captain.  The regiment left for Washington on September 6 to defend the capital; while there, Willis Company, as it was known, received a distinctive American flag made by the ladies of Hempstead.

Grave marker for Benjamin Albertson Willis, Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx, NY(Section 65, Poplar Plot, Lot 5162)

Army life there definitely did not agree with John Carman, twenty-one, a vegetable farmer from Merrick.  He wrote on October 3, 1862, when Willis Company was encamped at Fairfax Courthouse, that "i am tiered of a soldiers life and i want to get to Long Island."

The first major battle for the 119th was in May 1863 in Chancellorsville, where the regiment was one of those surprised by Stonewall Jackson's flank march and lost twenty-one killed, including the commanding officer, Colonel Elias Peissner, who was trying to rally his men.  There were also sixty-seven wounded and thirty-two missing.

* * *

The 119th was heavily engaged on the first two days of Gettysburg ... suffering 140 casualties and earning Benjamin Willis promotion to major.  In September, the regiment transferred to Tennessee and fought at Missionary Ridge before participating in the campaign to relieve Knoxville.  In the spring of 1864, the men of Company H were assigned to the Atlanta Campaign.  They fought at Resaca, Kennesaw Mountain, Pine Hill and Peachtree Creek, loosing several men, including George Rudyard, Dandridge Mott of Freeport and Erastus Webster of Roslyn, before the capture of Atlanta.  In November, the regiment marched with Sherman to the sea and was one of the first regiments to enter Savannah.  Early in 1865, it moved with Sherman into the Carolinas, participating in several battles, including Bentonville.  The veterans of Willis Company were mustered out at Bladensburg, Maryland, on June 7.  On their return home, they presented Major Willis with the flag that the women of Hempstead had made for them three years earlier.  During the war, 77 men from the regiment were killed or mortally wounded in battle and 94 died from disease and other causes.  The unit's history is kept alive by a group of living historians based at Old Bethpage Village Restoration. 

Map Showing the 119th New York on Barlow's Knoll on the 1st day of Gettysburg (July 1, 1863).