Willis B. Sanderlin

(Camden County)

Featured Character – Divided Allegiances

A Guerilla

Courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress

Born in 1832, Willis Burgess Sanderlin owned extensive property in Camden County before the Civil War.  The 1860 Census estimated his net worth at $7,450.  Unlike fellow members of his social class, Sandelin apparently did not rush to enlist in the Confederate Army.  However, after the Union occupation of eastern North Carolina, Sanderlin firmly sided with Confederacy.  By December 1863, Sanderlin led a band of Confederate guerrillas that operated close to their homes in Camden County.  Sanderlin’s partisans attacked Union raiding parties and harassed local Unionists.  Union commanders sent a major force into northeastern North Carolina with the aim of crushing rebel resistance.  General Edward A. Wild’s Raid failed to destroy the Confederate guerrillas, but his foray severely impacted civilian support for the rebels.  In early 1864, residents from the Albemarle region asked Governor Zebulon Vance to pull all Confederate guerrillas out of the area.  He complied.  On January 20, 1864, Sanderlin’s men became Company B, 68th North Carolina Infantry.  Confederate officials dispatched the new regiment to western North Carolina.  Ironically, they fought against Unionist guerrillas near Morganton.  After the war, Sanderlin returned to Bear Garden, his Camden County farm.  Although the 1870 Census indicates an increase in his income from 1860, to $9,500, Sanderlin decided to leave North Carolina.  By 1880, he owned a farm in Princess Anne County, Virginia. Willis Burgess Sanderlin died there in 1900.