A guide for scouting parties of Union troops.

by Lisa Y. Henderson

Willis M. Lewis filed claim #11536 with the Southern Claims Commission.  He was a farmer and resided on Trent Road in Craven County about three miles from New Bern.  “I frequently acted as a guide for scouting parties of United States troops, often aided and cared for sick and wounded soldiers.” Troops took his mare, hogs and corn and cut down pine trees for lumber to build barracks.  The 12th N.Y. Cavalry were encamped about ¾ mile from his place, and the 8th Connecticut were within 1 ½ miles. “I am a colored man, was free born, this property was my own.  The land from which the timber was cut I inherited from my father, the other property I purchased with moneys of my own.”

Calvin Bryan, age 34, testified to Lewis’ loyalty, confirming that Lewis had cared for sick Union soldiers and had guided scouting parties. He averred that Lewis “often said that he would go north if [the Confederacy] succeeded, he would not stay.” He witnessed Lewis’ property being hauled off to Camp Palmer.

In the 1860 census of Richardsons, Craven County: Willis Lewis, 74, farmer, with Sidney, 30, Willis, 22, Frederick, 8, Edward, 5, and Robinson Lewis, 4; plus James A. Morgan, 14; Frances Williams, 24; and Charles Sampson, 5.