INSCRIBED SECOND CORPS BADGE OF WILLIAM LEWIS, BATTERY C, 5TH U.S. ARTILLERY, PRIOR SERVICE 32ND PA - SEVERELY WOUNDED AT COLD HARBOR 1864

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Item Code: 1052-124

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.”

We attach an image of one obituary and a transcription of another below:

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, Spottsylvania 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.  [sr] [ph:m]

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