Born in Waterbury, New Haven, Connecticut on 24 September 1825, Henry Durant Woodruff was directly descended from Matthew Woodruff, one of the Puritans emigrating from Cambridge, England to the New World sometime in the early to mid-1600s. Initially a Connecticut Colony settler in Hartford, Matthew Woodruff relocated sometime around the time of 1640-1641 to what is now Farmington Township in Hartford County, Connecticut where, on 2 April 1654, he became one of the founding fathers of the Farmington Church.
A few short generations later, Matthew’s descendant, Philo Woodruff (1780-1866), would be born to Milford, Connecticut native, Jonah Woodruff (1755-1831), and Mabel (Adams) Woodruff (1758-1832), a native of Newtown in Fairfield, Connecticut. Philo Woodruff, a native of Naugatuck (now Waterbury), wed Lucy Tuttle sometime around the dawn of the 19th century. After welcoming 10 children to their Naugatuck (Waterbury), Connecticut home from 1804 to 1820, they greeted the arrival of their last son, Henry Durant Woodruff in 1825.
Early Years of Henry Durant (“H.D.”) Woodruff
Known as “H. D.” for much of his life, Henry Durant Woodruff toddled his first steps in Waterbury, Connecticut, but grew to manhood in Windsor, Broome County, New York, where his father had moved the Woodruff family and taken up farming.
In 1843, at the age of 18, Henry Woodruff made his own life-altering move, relocating to Perry County, Pennsylvania. Sometime after arriving, according to records of the Newport United Methodist Parish in Perry County, he became a member of R. Morrow’s Sunday school class in Landisburg, Perry County.
A fellow member of that same parish was Juniata County native and Landisburg resident, Elizabeth Harper (1824-1875). Elizabeth, a member of Joseph H. Kenady’s Sunday school class, was the daughter of Edward and Mary Ann Harper and sister of Robert Martin Harper, Edward Harper and William George Harper, three young men who would later serve under the Civil War command of Henry Woodruff.
On 9 July 1844, Henry Durant Woodruff was united in marriage by the Rev. J. A. Murray with Elizabeth Harper in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania.
Early Family Life
On 8 January 1845, H. D. and Elizabeth Woodruff welcomed son Lucian Dallas Woodruff to their Landisburg, Perry County home. Gazing into his tiny face, they could not know it at the time, but Lucian would go on to become both a respected newspaper publisher and a distinguished public servant.
Daughter Mary arrived sometime around 1847, followed by son John in 1850. By the time of the 1850 federal census, Henry Durant Woodruff was supporting his growing family as a landlord, and residing with his wife and children in the Borough of Bloomfield, Perry County. Daughter Ada Elizabeth Woodruff arrived on 29 June 1853. (Ada would later go on to wed Johnstown, Pennsylvania native, Charles Lee Tittle (1845-1928), and pass away in Blairsville, Indiana County, Pennsylvania on 20 January 1925.)
Son Edward Charles Woodruff made his first appearance at the Woodruff home in Landisburg on 6 October 1859. (Edward, who would remain single and go on to take up the family occupation of printing, passed away in Blairsville, Indiana County on 25 March 1923.)
Still employed as an innkeeper in the Borough of Bloomfield in 1860, Henry Durant Woodruff is shown on the federal census of that year as residing in New Bloomfield with his wife and children, as well as a number of lodgers at his establishment. Missing from the 1860 census, however, were daughter Mary and son John, who passed away during early childhood.
* Note: Henry Wilson Storey in his History of Cambria County noted that the Woodruffs had a total of four children who did not survive beyond childhood, and also described H. D.’s son Lucian as the Woodruff’s “first surviving son.” Educated at the New Bloomfield Academy, Lucian Dallas Woodruff would do more than just survive. In addition to teaching in the local schools for a year during his early professional life and then shepherding the Johnstown Democrat newspaper through difficult times during the early 1890s, he served two terms on the Johnstown school board, was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, serving from 1879 to 1882, and was named a delegate to the Democratic national convention in Chicago in 1884. He was then appointed in 1894 by President Grover Cleveland as postmaster of Johnstown, and also later served as Johnstown’s mayor.
Storm Clouds on the Horizon
By the dawn of the Civil War, Henry Durant Woodruff was shown on certain records as a teacher and on others as an innkeeper residing in New Bloomfield in the Borough of Bloomfield, Perry County, Pennsylvania. He was also active with the Bloomfield infantry, having served as Captain of that local militia unit.
So it was not a surprise when Henry D. Woodruff became one of the earliest men to heed President Abraham Lincoln’s call for volunteers following the April 1861 fall of Fort Sumter to Confederate forces. Organizing his own company of soldiers, comprised largely of Bloomfield and Perry County men, he then personally enrolled and mustered in for military service at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, Dauphin County on 20 April 1861. Commissioned as a Captain, he was placed in charge of his men (now known as Company D), and assigned to the 2nd Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.
Shipped to Cockeysville, Maryland with his regiment the next day and then to York, Pennsylvania, Captain H. D. Woodruff and the 2nd Pennsylvania remained in York until 1 June 1861 when they moved to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. There, they were attached to the 2nd Brigade (under Wyncoop), 2nd Division (under Keim) in General Robert Patterson’s Army. Ordered to Hagerstown, Maryland on 16 June and then to Funkstown, the regiment remained in that vicinity until 23 June.
On 2 July, Captain H. D. Woodruff and his fellow 2nd Pennsylvania Volunteers served in a support role during the Battle of Falling Waters, Virginia—an encounter that would also see the participation of soldiers from other regiments who would, like many of the men from Woodruff’s Company D in the 2nd Pennsylvania, later join the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers. One such unit engaged at Falling Waters was Company F of the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry.
The Battle of Falling Waters, fought on 2 July 1861, was the first Civil War battle in the Shenandoah Valley. (A second battle occurred there in 1863 with a different military configuration.) Known as the Battle of Hainesville or Hoke’s Run, this first Battle of Falling Waters paved the way for a Confederate Army victory at Manassas (Bull Run) on 21 July, according to several historians, and is also believed to have tempered Union General Robert Patterson’s later combat assertiveness (due to the resistance displayed by the Confederate Army).
The next day, Captain Henry D. Woodruff and the 2nd Pennsylvania occupied Martinsburg, Virginia. On 15 July, they advanced on Bunker Hill, and then moved on to Charlestown on 17 July before reaching Harper’s Ferry on 23 July. Three days later, Captain H. D. Woodruff and his regiment mustered out at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg, following the successful completion of their Three Months’ Service.
Civil War Military Service — Three Years’ Service
Knowing full well that the fight was far from over, H. D. Woodruff then promptly recruited a new company within an entirely new regiment—the 47th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers. The roster was again largely comprised of men from Perry County, and included many of those who had previously served under Woodruff. Enrolling again for military service on 20 August 1861 at Bloomfield in Perry County, he was again commissioned Captain, mustering in at Camp Curtin in Harrisburg on 31 August 1861. His new company would be given the letter “D”—the same letter assigned to the company he had previously commanded during his Three Months’ Service.
Following a brief light infantry training period, Captain Woodruff and his company were sent by train with the 47th Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C. where they were stationed at “Camp Kalorama” on Kalorama Heights near Georgetown, about two miles from the White House, beginning 21 September. The next day, Company C Musician Henry D. Wharton penned the following update to the Sunbury American newspaper:
After a tedious ride we have, at last, safely arrived at the City of ‘magnificent distances.’ We left Harrisburg on Friday last at 1 o’clock A.M. and reached this camp yesterday (Saturday) at 4 P.M., as tired and worn out a sett [sic] of mortals as can possibly exist. On arriving at Washington we were marched to the ‘Soldiers Retreat,’ a building purposely erected for the benefit of the soldier, where every comfort is extended to him and the wants of the ‘inner man’ supplied.
After partaking of refreshments we were ordered into line and marched, about three miles, to this camp. So tired were the men, that on marching out, some gave out, and had to leave the ranks, but J. Boulton Young, our ‘little Zouave,’ stood it bravely, and acted like a veteran. So small a drummer is scarcely seen in the army, and on the march through Washington he was twice the recipient of three cheers.
As part of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, Company D became part of the federal service when it officially mustered into the U.S. Army on 24 September. On 27 September, a rainy, drill-free day which permitted many of the men to read or write letters home, the 47th Pennsylvania was assigned to the 3rd Brigade of W.F. Smith’s Army of the Potomac. That afternoon, they marched to the Potomac River’s eastern side and, after arriving at Camp Lyon, Maryland, marched double-quick over a chain bridge before moving on toward Falls Church, Virginia. Arriving at Camp Advance at dusk, they pitched their tents in a deep ravine about two miles from the bridge they had just crossed, near a new federal military facility under construction (Fort Ethan Allen). Armed with Mississippi rifles supplied by the Keystone State, they joined with the 3rd Brigade and Smith’s Army of the Potomac in defending the nation’s capital.
On 11 October, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers marched in the Grand Review at Bailey’s Cross Roads after having been ordered with the 3rd Brigade to Camp Griffin. In a letter home in mid-October, Captain John Peter Shindel Gobin (the leader of C Company who would be promoted in 1864 to lead the entire 47th Regiment) reported that companies D, A, C, F and I (the 47th Pennsylvania’s right wing) were ordered to picket duty after the left-wing companies (B, G, K, E, and H) had been forced to return to camp by Confederate troops.
On Friday morning, 22 October, the 47th engaged in a Divisional Review, described by historian Lewis Schmidt as massing “about 10,000 infantry, 1000 cavalry, and twenty pieces of artillery all in one big open field.” On 21 November, the 47th participated in a morning divisional headquarters review by Colonel Tilghman H. Good, followed by brigade and division drills all afternoon. Wrote Schmidt, “each man was supplied with ten blank cartridges.” Afterward, “Gen. Smith requested Gen. Brannan to inform Col. Good that the 47th was the best regiment in the whole division.”
As a reward for their performance that day—and in preparation for the even bigger events which were yet to come, Brigadier-General Brannan ordered that brand new Springfield rifles be obtained for every member of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers.
Next ordered to move from their Virginia encampment back to Maryland, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers left Camp Griffin at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, 22 January 1862, marching through deep mud with their equipment for three miles in order to reach the railroad station at Falls Church. Sent by rail to Alexandria, they then sailed the Potomac via the steamship City of Richmond to the Washington Arsenal, where they were reequipped before they were marched off for dinner and rest at the Soldiers’ Retreat in Washington, D.C. The next afternoon, the 47th Pennsylvanians hopped cars on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and headed for Annapolis, Maryland. Arriving around 10 p.m., they were assigned quarters in barracks at the Naval Academy. They then spent that Friday through Monday (24-27 January 1862) loading their equipment and other supplies onto the steamship Oriental.
According to Schmidt and letters home from members of the regiment, those preparations ceased on Monday, 27 January, at 10 a.m. when:
The regiment was formed and instructed by Lt. Col. Alexander ‘that we were about drumming out a member who had behaved himself unlike a soldier.’ …. The prisoner, Pvt. James C. Robinson of Company I, was a 36 year old miner from Allentown who had been ‘disgracefully discharged’ by order of the War Department. Pvt. Robinson was marched out with martial music playing and a guard of nine men, two men on each side and five behind him at charge bayonets. The music then struck up with ‘Robinson Crusoe’ as the procession was marched up and down in front of the regiment, and Pvt. Robinson was marched out of the yard.
Reloading then resumed. By that afternoon, when the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers commenced boarding the Oriental, they were ferried to the big steamship by smaller steamers. The officers boarded last and, per the directive of Brigadier-General Brannan, the Oriental steamed away for the Deep South at 4 p.m. They were headed for Florida which, despite its secession from the Union, remained strategically important to the Union due to the presence of Forts Taylor and Jefferson in Key West and the Dry Tortugas.
In early February 1862, Company D and their fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers arrived in Key West. There, they were assigned to garrison Fort Taylor and drilled daily in heavy artillery tactics. On 14 February, the regiment made itself known to area residents via a parade through the city’s streets. That weekend, a number of men from the regiment mingled with residents at local church services.
From mid-June through July, the 47th was ordered to Hilton Head, South Carolina where the men made camp before being housed in the Department of the South’s Beaufort District. Picket duties north of the 3rd Brigade’s camp were often rotated among the regiments present at the time, putting soldiers at risk from sniper fire. According to historian Samuel P. Bates, the men of the 47th “received the highest commendation from Generals Hunter and Brannan” for their “attention to duty, discipline and soldierly bearing.”
Sadly, sometime that summer, Captain H. D. Woodruff’s brother-in-law, Private Robert Martin Harper, contracted tuberculosis. On 28 July 1862 Private Harper was discharged on a Surgeon’s Certificate and sent home to Landisburg in Perry, where he died less than a month later, on 16 August 1862. He was subsequently laid to rest in his hometown cemetery.
Sent on a return expedition to Florida, the remaining Harper brothers, Edward and William, and others under the Company D leadership of Captain Woodruff saw their first truly intense moments of combat when the 47th Pennsylvania joined other Union regiments in the capture of Saint John’s Bluff from 1 to 3 October. Led by Brigadier-General John Milton Brannan, a 1,500-plus Union force disembarked at Mayport Mills and Mount Pleasant Creek from troop carriers guarded by Union gunboats. Taking point, the 47th led the 3rd Brigade through 25 miles of dense, pine forested swamps populated with deadly snakes and alligators. By the time the expedition ended, the brigade had forced the Confederate Army to abandon its artillery battery atop Saint John’s Bluff, and had paved the way for the Union to occupy the town of Jacksonville, Florida.
From 21-23 October, under the brigade and regimental commands of Colonel Tilghman H. Good and Lieutenant-Colonel George W. Alexander, the 47th engaged Confederate forces in and around Pocotaligo, South Carolina. Landing at Mackay’s Point, the men of the 47th were placed on point once again, but they and the 3rd Brigade were less fortunate this time. Harried by snipers en route to the Pocotaligo Bridge, they met resistance from an entrenched, heavily fortified Confederate battery which opened fire on the Union troops as they entered an open cotton field. Those headed toward higher ground at the Frampton Plantation fared no better as they encountered artillery and infantry fire from the surrounding forests.
The Union soldiers grappled with the Confederates where they found them, pursuing the Rebels for four miles as they retreated to the bridge. There, the 47th relieved the 7th Connecticut. But the enemy was just too well armed. After two hours of intense fighting in an attempt to take the ravine and bridge, depleted ammunition forced the 47th to withdraw to Mackay’s Point.
Losses for the 47th were significant. Two officers and 18 enlisted men died; two officers and another 114 enlisted were wounded. Several resting places for men from the 47th still remain unidentified, the information lost to sloppy Army and hospital records management or to the trauma-impaired memories of soldiers forced to hastily bury or leave behind the bodies of comrades upon receiving orders to retreat.
On 23 October, the 47th Pennsylvania returned to Hilton Head, where it served as the funeral Honor Guard for General Ormsby McKnight Mitchel, the commander of the U.S. Army’s 10th Corps and Department of the South who had succumbed to yellow fever on 30 October. The Mountains of Mitchel, a part of Mars’ South Pole discovered by Mitchel in 1846 as a University of Cincinnati astronomer, and Mitchelville, the first Freedmen’s town created after the Civil War, were both later named for him. Men from the 47th Pennsylvania were given the high honor of firing the salute over his grave.
By 1863, Captain Woodruff and the men of D Company were once again based with the 47th Pennsylvania in Florida. Having been ordered back to Key West on 15 November of 1862, much of 1863 was spent guarding federal installations in Florida as part of the 10th Corps, Department of the South. Companies A, B, C, E, G, and I garrisoned Fort Taylor in Key West while Companies D, F, H, and K garrisoned Fort Jefferson in Florida’s Dry Tortugas. Men from the 47th were also sent on skirmishes and to Fort Myers, which had been abandoned in 1858 after the third U.S. war with the Seminole Indians. As before, disease was a constant companion and foe.
The time spent here by Company D and their fellow northerners was notable also for the men’s commitment to preserving the Union. Many who could have returned home chose instead to re-enlist in order to finish the fight.
A letter to the New York Times, reprinted in the 30 April 1864 edition of the Semi- Weekly Wisconsin in Milwaukee, documented the service of three of Captain Henry D. Woodruff’s relatives with his company, and also provided insight into the mindsets of the men from company D:
Remarkable History of a Military Company
To the Editor of the New York Times:
Company D of the 47th Pennsylvania Regiment, a portion of which recently spent some time at the Soldiers’ Rest, in our city, on the way to Key West, can show the following record. There are in the company the following men:
William Powell, } Four brothers and a cousin.
John Brady, } All brothers.
Jacob Baltzer [sic], } Brothers.
George Baltzer [sic],
Benjamin Baltzer [sic],
George Krosier [sic], } Brothers.
William Krosier [sic],
Jesse Krosier [sic],
Edward Harper, } Brothers [sic] and Brothers-in-law
Marvin Harper, of the Captain.
Jesse Shaffer, } Two Brothers and a Cousin.
Wilson Tag, } Father and two sons; father
James Tag, served in Mexican War.
John Clay, } Six pairs of brothers.
William Vertig [sic],
Franklin Vertig [sic],
Isaac Baldwin, } Step-brothers.
These men all hail from Perry county, Pennsylvania. They are mainly of the old Holland stock, and lived within a circuit of fifteen miles. They are all re-enlisted men but two or three.
The company has been out over two years, most of the time at the extreme southern points. During eighteen months they lost but one man by sickness. They kept up strict salary regulations, commuted their rations of salt meat for fresh meat and vegetables, and saved by the operation from one hundred to one hundred thirty dollars a month, with which they made a company fund, appointing the Captain treasurer, and out of which whatever knick-nacks [sic] were needed could be purchased.
They always ate at a table, which they fixed with cross sticks, and had their food served from large bowls, each man having his place, as at home, which no one else was allowed to occupy. While the men were here, they showed that they were sober, cheerful, intelligent men, who had put their hearts into their work, and did not count any privations or sacrifices too great, if only the life of the country might thereby be maintained. During the whole term of their service, they had not had a man court-martialed.
They are commanded by Captain Henry D. Woodruff, a native of Binghamton, in this State, but long a resident of Pennsylvania. Their First Lieutenant is S. Ouchmuty [sic]; Second Lieutenant, George Stroop.
If any company can show a more striking record, it would be very interesting to know it.
The Harper brothers described above were actually brothers-in-law of Captain H. D. Woodruff.
In early January 1864, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry was ordered to expand the Union’s reach by sending part of the regiment north to retake possession of Fort Myers, a federal installation that had been abandoned in 1858 following the U.S. government’s third war with the Seminole Indians. Per orders issued earlier in 1864 by General D. P. Woodbury, Commanding Officer, U.S. Department of the Gulf, District of Key West and the Tortugas, that the fort be used to facilitate the Union’s Gulf Coast blockade, Captain Richard Graeffe and a group of men from Company A were charged with expanding the fort and conducting raids on area cattle herds to provide food for the growing Union troop presence. Graeffe and his men subsequently turned the fort into both their base of operations and a shelter for pro-Union supporters, escaped slaves, Confederate Army deserters, and others fleeing Rebel troops. According to Schmidt:
Capt. Richard A. Graeffe, accompanied by Assistant Surgeon William F. Reiber, commanded the main portion of Company A which boarded ship on Monday, January 4 and sailed the following day, Tuesday, for Fort Myers, on the Caloosahatchee River fifteen air miles southeast of Charlotte Harbor. The company was transported on board the Army quartermaster schooner Matchless, after having embarked the day before, and was accompanied by the steamer U.S.S. Honduras commanded by Lt. Harris, and with Gen. Woodbury aboard. Lt. Harris was directed to tow the Matchless if necessary.
Punta Rassa was probably the location where the troops disembarked, and was located on the tip of the southwest delta of the Caloosahatchee River … near what is now the mainland or eastern end of the Sanibel Causeway… Fort Myers was established further up the Caloosahatchee at a location less vulnerable to storms and hurricanes. In 1864, the Army built a long wharf and a barracks 100 feet long and 50 feet wide at Punta Rassa, and used it as an embarkation point for shipping north as many as 4400 Florida cattle….
Capt. Graeffe and company were disembarked on the evening of January 7, and Gen. Woodbury ordered the company to occupy Fort Myers on the south side of the Caloosahatchee, about 12 miles from its mouth and 150 miles from Key West. Shortly after, [a detachment of men from the 47th Pennsylvania’s A Company stationed on Useppa Island] was also ordered to proceed to Fort Myers and join the main body of Company A, the entire command under direct orders of the General who was in the area…. Gen. Woodbury returned to Key West on the Honduras prior to January 19, and the command was left in charge of Capt. Graeffe who dispatched various patrols in search of refugees for enlistment and for activities involving Confederate cattle shipments.
Company A’s muster roll provides the following account of the expedition under command of Capt. Graeffe: ‘The company left Key West Fla Jany 4. 64 enroute to Fort Meyers Coloosahatche River [sic] Fla. were joined by a detachment of the U.S. 2nd Fla Rangers at Punta Rossa Fla took possession of Fort Myers Jan 10. Captured a Rebel Indian Agent and two other men.’
A draft Environmental Impact Statement prepared in 2010 for the Everglades National Park partially documents the time of Richard Graeffe and the men under his Florida command this way:
A small contingent of 20 men and two officers from the Pennsylvania 47th Regiment, led by Captain Henry Crain of the 2nd Regiment of Florida, arrived at the fort on January 7, 1864. A short time later, the party was joined by another small detachment of the 47th under the command of Captain Richard A. Graeffe. Over a short period, increasing reinforcements of the fort led to increasing cattle raids throughout the region. A Union force so far into Confederate land did not go well with Confederate loyalists. The fact that so many men stationed at the post were black soldiers from the newly created U.S. Colored Troops was particularly aggravating. The raids were so antagonizing that the Confederates created a Cattle Guard Battalion called the “Cow Cavalry” to repulse Union raiders. The unit remained a primary threat to the Union soldiers carrying out raids and reconnaissance missions from Brooksville to as far south as Lake Okeechobee and Fort Myers.
Meanwhile, all of the other companies of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry were preparing for the regiment’s history-making journey to Louisiana. Boarding yet another steamer—the Charles Thomas—on 25 February 1864, the men from Companies B, C, D, I, and K of the 47th Pennsylvania headed for Algiers, Louisiana (across the river from New Orleans), followed on 1 March by other members of the regiment from Companies E, F, G, and H who had been stationed at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas. Upon the second group’s arrival, the now almost fully reunited regiment moved by train on 28 February to Brashear City before heading to Franklin by steamer through the Bayou Teche. There, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry joined the 2nd Brigade, 1st Division of the Department of the Gulf’s 19th Army Corps, and became the only Pennsylvania regiment to serve in the Red River Campaign of Union Major-General Nathaniel P. Banks.
Unable to reach Louisiana until 23 March, the men from Company A were effectively placed on a different type of detached duty in New Orleans while they awaited transport to enable them to catch up with the main part of their regiment. Charged with guarding and overseeing the transport of 245 Confederate prisoners, they were finally able to board the Ohio Belle on 7 April, and reached Alexandria with those prisoners on 9 April.
Red River Campaign
From 14-26 March, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry headed for Alexandria and Natchitoches, Louisiana, by way of New Iberia, Vermilionville, Opelousas, and Washington. On 4 April 1864, the regiment added to its roster of young Black soldiers when 18-year-old John Bullard enrolled for service with Company D of the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers at Natchitoches. According to his entry in the Civil War Veterans’ Card File at the Pennsylvania State Archives, Bullard was officially mustered in for duty on 22 June “as (Colored) Cook.”
Often short on food and water, the regiment encamped briefly at Pleasant Hill the night of 7 April before continuing on the next day, marching until mid-afternoon. Rushed into battle ahead of other regiments in the 2nd Division, 60 members of the 47th were cut down on 8 April during the volley of fire unleashed by both sides during the Battle of Sabine Cross Roads.
The fighting waned only when darkness fell. Exhausted, those who were uninjured collapsed beside the gravely wounded. After midnight, the surviving Union troops withdrew to Pleasant Hill.
The next day, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers were ordered into a critically important defensive position at the far right of the Union lines, their right flank spreading up onto a high bluff. By 3 p.m., after enduring a midday charge by the troops of Confederate General Richard Taylor (a plantation owner and son of Zachary Taylor, former President of the United States), the brutal fighting still showed no signs of ending. Suddenly, just as the 47th was shifting to the left side of the massed Union forces, the men of the 47th Pennsylvania were forced to bolster the 165th New York’s buckling lines by blocking another Confederate assault.
During this engagement, the 47th Pennsylvania succeeded in recapturing a Massachusetts artillery battery lost during the earlier Confederate assault but, once again, casualties were severe. Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander was nearly killed during the Battle of Pleasant Hill, and the regiment’s two color-bearers, both from Company C, were also wounded while preventing the regimental flag from falling into enemy hands. Private Ephraim Clouser of Company D was shot in his right knee, and Corporal Isaac Baldwin was also wounded.
Still others from the 47th were captured and held as prisoners of war until released during a prisoner exchange on 22 July. Sergeant James Crownover was wounded in action before being taken captive. He, Private James Downs, Corporal John Garber Miller and Private William J. Smith were four of the fortunate who survived. Downs, Miller and Smith were released on 22 July, Crownover on 25 November 1864. While held as a POW, Crownover had been commissioned, but not mustered as a 2nd Lieutenant (31 August 1864).
Following what some historians have called a rout by Confederates at Pleasant Hill and others have labeled a technical victory for the Union or a draw for both sides, the 47th fell back to Grand Ecore, where they engaged in the hard labor of strengthening regimental and brigade fortifications for 11 days. They then moved back to Natchitoches Parish on 22 April, arriving at 10 p.m. that night in Cloutierville after marching 45 miles. While en route, the Union forces were attacked again—this time at the rear of their brigade, but they were able to quickly end the encounter and continue on.
The next morning (23 April 1864), episodic skirmishing quickly roared into the flames of a robust fight. As part of the advance party led by Brigadier-General William Emory, the 47th Pennsylvanians took on Brigadier-General Hamilton P. Bee’s Confederate Cavalry in the Battle of Cane River (also known as “the Affair at Monett’s Ferry” or the “Cane River Crossing”).
Responding to a barrage from the Confederate artillery’s 20-pound Parrott guns and raking fire from enemy troops situated near a bayou and on a bluff, Emory directed one of his brigades to keep Bee’s Confederates busy while sending the other two brigades to find a safe spot where his Union troops could ford the Cane River. As part of the “beekeepers,” 47th Pennsylvanians supported Emory’s artillery.
Meanwhile, other Emory troops worked their way across the Cane River, attacked Bee’s flank, forced a Rebel retreat, and erected a series of pontoon bridges, enabling the 47th and other remaining Union troops to make the Cane River Crossing by the next day. As the Confederates retreated, they torched their own food stores, as well as the cotton supplies of their fellow southerners.
Encamping overnight before resuming their march toward Rapides Parish, the 47th Pennsylvanians finally arrived on 26 April in Alexandria, where they camped for 17 more days (through 13 May 1864). While there, they engaged yet again in the hard labor of fortification work, and also helped to build “Bailey’s Dam,” a timber structure that enabled Union gunboats to more easily make their way back down the Red River.
Beginning 13 May, D Company moved with most of the 47th from Simmesport across the Atchafalaya to Morganza, and then to New Orleans on 20 June. On the 4th of July, Captain Woodruff learned that his company’s fight was not yet over when the regiment received new orders to return to the East Coast for further duty.
Removed from command amid the controversy over the Union Army’s successes and failures during the Red River Expedition, Union Major-General Nathaniel P. Banks was placed on leave by President Abraham Lincoln. Banks subsequently spent much of his time in Washington, D.C. as a Reconstruction advocate for Louisiana.
Sheridan’s 1864 Shenandoah Valley Campaign
Still able and willing to fight after their time in Bayou country, Captain H. D. Woodruff and his D Company men joined their fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers from Companies A, C, E, F, H, and I on boarding the McClellan on 7 July. Following their arrival in Virginia and a memorable encounter with President Abraham Lincoln on 12 July, they then joined up Major-General David Hunter’s forces in the fighting at Snicker’s Gap and, once again, assisted in defending Washington, D.C. while also helping to drive Confederate troops from Maryland.
Attached to the Middle Military Division, Army of the Shenandoah beginning in August, early and mid-September saw the departure of several 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers who had served honorably, including 1st Lieutenant Samuel Auchmuty, Sergeants Henry Heikel and Alex Wilson, Corporal Cornelius Stewart—and Captain Henry Durant Woodruff. All mustered out 18 September 1864 at Berryville, Virginia upon expiration of their three-year service terms.
Just over a month later, Captain Woodruff’s brother-in-law, Corporal Edward Harper was wounded in action during the Battle of Cedar Creek, Virginia on 19 October 1864. (Corporal Harper ultimately survived, and remained in service with the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers until the close of the Civil War.)
Return to Civilian Life
Following his honorable discharge in September 1864, Henry Durant Woodruff returned home to Pennsylvania. Sometime in 1864, he relocated with his wife to Johnstown in Cambria County, where he became the senior editor and proprietor of the Johnstown Democrat, a newspaper launched a year earlier by James F. Campbell, Sr. By 1865, H. D. Woodruff was joined by his son, Lucian Dallas Woodruff. According to a U.S. Library of Congress description of the Johnstown Democrat on its Chronicling America website, H. D. and Lucien would continue to operate the paper together until H. D.’s retirement in 1876:
Lucian Dallas Woodruff (1845-1911) came to Johnstown from Perry County in 1865 to work with his father, Henry Durant Woodruff (1825-1890), on the Johnstown Democrat, a newspaper founded in March 1863 by James F. Campbell, Sr. When the elder Woodruff retired in 1876, L.D. was editor and proprietor until January 1893, afterward becoming postmaster and then mayor of Johnstown. Founded in 1889, the Weekly Democrat was a Friday-morning newspaper, and the issue of July 5, 1889, was its first since the flood. The newspaper had sustained equipment damage and needed a new, temporary building. Most of the issue, beginning with the entire front page, dealt with the disaster, and more than a century later, the enormity of the losses still make painful reading.
In addition to being referred to by his initials (“H. D.”), Henry Durant Woodruff was also often referred to as “Captain Woodruff,” for the remainder of his life after the Civil War. According to historian Samuel T. Wiley, “He was a Jeffersonian democrat, and wielded a great influence in the county councils of his party.”
Sadly, on 7 November 1875, Elizabeth widowed H. D. Woodruff. The Indiana Progress briefly noted her passing in its 18 November 1875 edition:
On the 7th inst., Elizabeth Woodruff, wife of Capt. H. D. Woodruff, senior editor of the Johnstown ‘Democrat,’ departed this life at the age of 51 years. Our sympathies are tendered to the Captain and his family in the loss they have sustained.
According to one source, Elizabeth was reinterred at the Grandview Cemetery in Johnstown on 24 March 1891, indicating that she was initially buried elsewhere.
The following year (1876), in failing health, H. D. Woodruff retired from his job at the newspaper. In 1880, he remained close to his son, residing with Lucian and his family in Conemaugh, Cambria County. By 1890, he was living in Blairsville in Indiana County. It was there, with daughter Ada and her husband, Charles L. Tittle, that he spent his final years. The 1890 U.S. Veterans’ Schedule noted that, like many of his fellow 47th Pennsylvania Volunteers, he suffered from such terrible rheumatism that he was “entirely disabled.”
Death and Interment
The Indiana Democrat reported the death of H. D. Woodruff in its Thursday, 25 September1890 edition as follows:
On Monday afternoon, Captain Henry Durant Woodruff, formerly editor of the Johnstown Democrat, died at the residence of his son-in-law Charles L. Tittle, in Blairsville. Deceased was a native of New Haven, Conn., and was sixty-five years old on Sunday, the day previous to his death. Captain Woodruff was a brave soldier in the late war having served two terms of enlistment in the service. He was among the first to organize a company under the three months call and was assigned to the 1st Pennsylvania Regiment. After the expiration of the three months’ service, he again enlisted, this time under the three years call, when he was assigned with his old company, to duty in T.H. Good’s regiment, the 47th Pennsylvania. He was editor of the Johnstown Democrat from 1864, the close of the war until 1876, when he transferred his interests to his son, L.D. Woodruff, the present proprietor.
His remains were taken to Johnstown and interred in the Grand View Cemetery Wednesday.
1. Bates, Samuel P. History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5, vol. 1. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: B. Singerly, State Printer, 1869.
2. Civil War Veterans’ Card File. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State Archives.
3. “Death of Capt. H. D. Woodruff.” Indiana, Pennsylvania: Indiana Democrat, 25 September 1890.
4. Death Certificates (Mrs. Ada W. Tittle, Edward Charles Woodruff and L. D. Woodruff). Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Vital Statistics.
5. Death Notice of Elizabeth Woodruff. Indiana, Pennsylvania: The Indiana Progress, 18 November 1875.
6. “Florida’s Role in the Civil War,” in Florida Memory. Tallahassee, Florida: State Archives of Florida.
7. Johnstown Weekly Democrat, in Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress website (via Penn State University Libraries, University Park, Pennsylvania): accessed 27 June 2015.
8. Marriage Record of Elizabeth Harper to Henry Woodruff, in Cumberland County Historical Society Records; and Sunday School Attendance Records of Elizabeth Harper and Henry Woodruff, in Newport United Methodist Parish records, all in Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
9. “Recent Deaths: Lucien D. Woodruff.” Indiana, Pennsylvania: Indiana Gazette, 1 February 1911.
10. Schmidt, Lewis. A Civil War History of the 47th Regiment of Pennsylvania Veteran Volunteers. Allentown, Pennsylvania: Self-published, 1986.
11. Storey, Henry Wilson. History of Cambria County, vol. 3. New York, New York and Chicago, Illinois: Lewis Publishing Co., 1907.
12. “Tamiami Trail Modifications: Next Steps,” in Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Washington, D.C. and Everglades National Park, Florida: U.S. National Park Service, 2010.
14. Wiley, Samuel T., ed. “Hon. L. D. Woodruff,” in Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Cambria County, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Union Publishing Co., 1896.
You must be logged in to post a comment.