William Henry Harrison Clay Lewis was severely wounded in June 1864 after surviving a number of very close-up, bloody battles as both and infantryman and artilleryman in the Army of the Potomac. Born in Philadelphia in April 1840, he listed his residence as Bucks County when he first enlisted and was recorded as a house painter by profession. He mustered into Co. K of the 3rd PA Reserves (32nd PA Infantry) on 5/27/62, was promoted corporal 2/8/62, and served with the unit until transferred into Battery C 5th US Artillery, the 32nd listing him as transferred 12/9/62 and the regular listing him as enlisting on 11/28/62.
During his time with the 32nd, they fought in the Peninsula Campaign, taking losses at Mechanicsville, Gaines Mill, Charles City Crossroads, Glendale and White Oak Swamp (the latter three covering fighting on 6/30/62,) Second Bull Run, and Antietam. During his service with Battery C 5th U.S. they fought at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg (where they fought along the Emmitsburg Road and in close fighting lost 3 guns that were soon after recaptured on July 2 and on July 3 fought among Webb’s troops in repulsing Pickett’s Charge, firing canister at close range into the enemy ranks.) In 1864 they fought at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania (where, at the Salient or “Bloody Angle,” Lt. Metcalf advanced two guns right up to the Confederate works and added to the appalling carnage with by firing double rounds of canister,) the Po River, North Anna, Totopotomoy, and Cold Harbor, where Lewis was severely wounded, losing both arms below the elbow by the premature ignition of a charge he was ramming home.
Pension records state he, "was wounded at Cold Harbor June 7th 1864 by the premature explosion of a gun while fitting in the charge" and that "both forearms were torn off - right 3 inches below elbow and left 2 inches above wrist." His wounding is also recorded in the “Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion.” He may actually have been injured June 8. The battery commander’s official report reads: “June 7.--Ordered to report to Maj.-Gen. Birney. Moved 2 miles to Barker's Mill and took position. June 8.--Same position. Engaged a rifled battery of the enemy with solid shot at 1,900 yards. It ceased firing after I had fired about 50 rounds. One man badly disabled by a premature explosion…”
Lewis was hospitalized until discharged 4/27/1865. His immediate postwar life is unclear, but he entered the Soldiers Home in Dayton, Ohio, in 1876, from which he soon transferred to Waukesha, Wisconsin, and moving out in 1877 to marry and live in Waukesha until his death 2/4/1892.
The badge is made from a British six-pence coin, polished smooth for the engraving on one side, cut in the trefoil shape designating the Second Army Corps, and fitted on the reverse with a T-bar pin. (The use of silver coins for such purposes was an extension of the popular engraved coin “love tokens” of the 1850s.) The face is engraved, “W.H. / LEWIS / Co. C 5th Reg. / US Art.”
DEATH OF AN OLD SOLDIER
Waukesha, Feb. 5. - This morning William Henry Harrison Clay Lewis, an old soldier, died at his home in this village. He was generally known as "Armless Lewis." He was born in Philadelphia in April, 1840, and entered the army of volunteers when the first call was made for 75,000 men to serve two years if the rebellion was not put down in less time. He enlisted in Co. K, Third Pennsylvania reserves, on May 27, 1861. He fought through the Peninsular campaign and there was in the Manassas campaign where he fought in the second battle of Bull Run and in the battle of Antietam.
After this he was transferred with a number of others to the regular army at Washington to serve three years and was assigned to Battery Three, U. S. light artillery. After this he fought in the battle of South Mountain and Gettysburg and went to New York to aid in putting down the draft riot. Fought after this in the battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House and Cold Harbor.
On the 7th day of June, 1864, he lost both his arms by the premature discharge of a gun he was serving. He was taken to a hospital where he remained until the spring of 1865, when he received an honorable discharge from the government. In 1876 he entered the Soldiers' home, at Dayton, O., but left there the same year and came to the Milwaukee Soldiers' home. From this home he took his discharge in 1877, and June of that year was married to Fidelia Newson and came to Waukesha to live. He received a pension of $75 and his wife $25 per month. He showed remarkable dexterity considering that he had no hands and but a very small portion of his arms left. He fed himself by a means of a hook fastened to his coat sleeve and drove horses a great deal. He buckled the lines about his neck and guided them by twisting his body about. He was a member of the Waukesha G. A. R. post. He leaves a wife to mourn his loss.
This is a real, wartime, inscribed corps badge worn by soldier who had active service, suffered horrible injury, and showed remarkable resilience.
William H. Lewis - 20 years old. Enlisted as a Private, He was listed as: Wounded 6/7/1864 Cold Harbor, VA (Severe wound in right forearm). He also had service in: US Army 5th LA Batty C.
United States Regular Army BATTERY "C" 5th ARTILLERY.
Organized September, 1861. Attached to Artillery, McCall's Division, Army Potomac, to March, 1862. Artillery, 2nd Division, 1st Army Corps, Army Potomac, to April, 1862, and Dept. of the Rappahannock, to June, 1862. Artillery, 3rd Division, 5th Army Corps, Army Potomac, to August, 1862. Artillery, 3rd Division, 3rd Corps, Army Virginia, to September, 1862. Artillery, 3rd Division, 1st Army Corps, Army Potomac, to February, 1863. Artillery, 2nd Division, 1st Army Corps, to May, 1863. 1st Regular Brigade, Artillery Reserve, Army Potomac, to July, 1863. Camp Barry, Washington, D. C., 22nd Army Corps, to November, 1863. Consolidated with Battery "I" November, 1863. Artillery Brigade, 2nd Army Corps, Army Potomac, to March, 1865. Artillery Reserve, Army Potomac, to June, 1865. Dept. of Washington, D. C.
SERVICE.-Duty in the Defences of Washington, D. C,. till April, 1862. Advance on Falmouth, Va., April 9-19. McDowell's advance on Richmond May 25-28. Ordered to the Virginia Peninsula June. Seven days before Richmond June 25-July 1. Mechanicsville June 26. Gaines' Mill June 27. Glendale June 30. Malvern Hill July 1. At Harrison's Landing till August 16. Movement to Fort Monroe, thence to Centreville, Va., August 16-28. Pope's Campaign in Northern Virginia August 28-September 2. Battles of Groveton August 29; Bull Run August 30. Maryland Campaign September 6-22. South Mountain, Md., September 14. Antietam, Md., September 16-17. Movement to Falmouth, Va.,October 30-November 19. Battle of Fredericksburg December 12-15. "Mud March" January 20-24, 1863. At Falmouth till April. Chancellorsville Campaign. April 27-May 6. Operations at Pollock's Mill Creek April 29-May 2. Fitzhugh's Crossing April 29-30. Battle of Chancellorsville May 1-5. Battle of Gettysburg, Pa., July 1-3. Draft riots in New York July 3-15. At Camp Barry, Washington, D. C., till November. Mine Run Campaign November 26-December 2. Rapidan Campaign May 4-June 12, 1864. Battles of the Wilderness May 5-7; Spottsylvania Court House May 8-21; Po River May 10. Assault on the Salient,May 12. North Anna River May 22-26. On line of the Pamunkey May 26-29. Totopotomoy May 28-31. Cold Harbor June 1-12. Assaults on Petersburg June 16-18. Siege of Petersburg June 16, 1864, to April 2, 1865. Jerusalem Plank Road June 22, 1864. Deep Bottom July 27-29. Weldon Railroad August 18-21. Boydton Plank Road, Hatcher's Run, October 27-28. Fort Stedman March 25, 1865. Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. Assault on and fall of Petersburg April 2. Moved to Washington, D. C., May. Grand. Review May 23. Duty at Washington, D. C.
Comes housed in an 8 x 12 inch display case with blue velvet backing and descriptive card.
Inventory Number: INS 290 / Sold