Joseph J. Woods
Joseph J. Woods by jajacks62
12th IA. Cavalry
The following information was provided by Ben F. Woods, Jf. (Joseph J. Woods was his Great Grandfathers brother):
Life of Colonel Joseph Jackson Woods
By: Major D. W. Reed, Twelfth Iowa
Colonel Joseph Jackson Woods was born January 11, 1823, on a farm in Brown County, Ohio. His ancestors came from Ireland but were not of the Irish race. Some of them were in Londonberry during the famous siege of that place in 1689. His grandfather, James Woods, came to America in 1773 and settled in Pennsylvania, where the father of the subject of this sketch, Samuel Woods, was born in the same year 1773. James Woods engaged during a part of the Revolution in furnishing supplies to the army.
The mother of Joseph J. Woods was born in Ireland in 1785, and came to America at the age of six or seven years; her maiden name was Richey. Joseph was the youngest son that arrived at mature age of a numerous family; his father being at the time of his birth fifty years old, and having been in his prime of more than average ability among the farming class to which he belonged, but while Joseph was yet young his father became a physical, financial, and mental wreck, so that at the age of ten years, Joseph was thrown on the world to succeed by his own resources.
He went with his older brother, John, just then married, to Rush County, Indiana, where they settled in a dense forest. He remained in Indiana two years and then returned to Ohio and lived with relatives until he was fourteen years old when he was apprenticed to Joseph Parish (late secretary to President Grant, to sign land patents) in Felicity, Clermont County, Ohio, to learn the saddlers trade.
In his early boyhood, while at school, which was but a small part of the time, he learned rapidly being advance of other children his age. He never attended the public school after his thirteenth year.
He served five years’ apprenticeship with Mr. Parish, working for his board and clothing, and became very proficient in the trade. Working in the winter season until 9 o’clock p. m. five nights a week, he had but little time for mental culture, but fortunately his cousin, Dr. Allen Woods, about this time married a Miss Whipple of Vermont, a lady of culture, who, becoming interested in young Woods, proposed to become his private tutor.
Under this arrangement, by improving every spare moment, he completed a course in arithmetic, English grammar, geography, and obtained a fair knowledge of history from books kindly loaned from the library of Dr. J. M. Woods. At the expiration of his apprenticeship, the Rev. Irvine, Presbyterian minister and graduate of Ohio State University, informed young Woods that as he was about to review his Latin and Greek studies, he would willingly take a pupil and give instructions in those branches free of charge, as a more thorough method of making his review. Under this arrangement young Woods pursued his studies seven months, working mornings and evenings in the saddler’s shop to pay his board.
The first Methodist College established in America was located at Augusta, Kentucky, seven miles from Felicity, Ohio. It was under the joint patronage of the Ohio and Kentucky conference of the Methodist Episcopal church, each conference being entitled to keep at college a certain number of students free of tuition, these to be selected by the presiding elders of the various districts from worthy young men of limited means.
The Rev. W. N. Roper, presiding elder over the district, gave young Woods the appointment and he entered the freshman class in that institution the same year. Although free tuition was provided , he found it difficult to provide for board and clothing and books, therefore by advise of Dr. Woods, he applied for an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point to take the place of U. S. Grant who would graduate the following June. His principle recommendations were from Hon. Alonzo Knowles, the leading Democratic politician at Felicity, Ohio, and Jesse R. Grant, Whig, then of Bethel, Ohio. There were several competitors for the appointment and Dr. Doan, member of Congress, declined to make a selection but sent the papers to the war department where the appointment was given to Woods and he entered the academy in June 1843.
Seventy-five were appointed to this class; thirty-eight graduated in it in 1847, Woods standing No. 3 in his class. During the last year at West Point he was assistant professor as well as student. July 1, 1847 he received his appointment as second lieutenant, in First Regiment United States Artillery.
The war with Mexico was in its height and he was ordered to New York Harbor to drill and organize recruits for the war, where he remained until October 10th, when out of these recruits companies L and M, First Artillery, were organized and Lieutenant Woods was ordered to proceed with these companies to Vera Cruz, Mexico, and join his company, C, to which he had been assigned, in Northern Mexico.
The command sailed from New York, October 10th, on the ship "Empire." The weather was boisterous and after four days of invisible sun the ship ran upon a coral reef–entirely covered by water–breaking a large hole in the vessel, when she settled down and broke in two. They were by captains reckoning, fifty miles from shore, but upon partially clearing off, they perceived a small uninhabited island called Fowl Key about one half mile distant and daylight brought to view Abaco, the largest of the Bahama group, at a distance of about five miles. Wreckers came to the assistance of the ship and about 10 o’clock a. m., they landed the soldiers on Fowl Key where they remained one week.
Vessels were then procured to take part of the command to Charleston, South Carolina. The balance with Lieutenant Woods was taken to Nassau, new Providence, since famous as the rendezvous for rebel cruisers. Remaining here eight days, he then in company with Lieutenant Morris, sailed for Charleston where they remained at Fort Moultrie until December 25, 1847, when they again sailed for Vera Cruz in the ship "Republic" sent out from New York for that purpose.
On January 1, 1848, as they were entering the port of Vera Cruz, a terrible "Norther" struck the vessel carrying them out to sea. They finally landed January 5th and found that a majority of the regiment to which the command was assigned was on garrison duty in the city, but Company C, to which Lieutenant Woods had been assigned was in northern Mexico. Woods was therefore transfered to Company M, and assigned to duty with the regiment at Vera Cruz. In May he had yellow fever and was very sick. About August 1, 1848, peace having been declared, Vera Cruz was evacuated and our troops immediately embarked for New York, companies L and M taking passage on the screw propeller "Massachusetts."
In October, 1848, Woods was promoted to first lieutenant, and November 10, 1848, embarked on board the "Massachusetts" with companies L and M for Oregon to quell disturbance recently arisen there, in which Dr. Whitman and a number of missionaries had been murdered.
The expedition was under the command of Brevet Major Hathaway, and Lieutenant Woods was a quartermaster and commissary. These were the first United States troops ever in Oregon. On the passage, about January 1st, the ship was put into port at Rio Janeiro, Brazil, and remained several days, giving the officers the opportunity of inspecting the city. Imperial Gardens, where all tropical fruits were growing, the foundries, and other places of interest. Lieutenant Woods was taken through the convent of the monks of St. Bernardine and was present at the Imperial Chapel when the Emperor and Empress partook of midnight mass, the going out of the year 1848.
Sailing out of Rio Janeiro they passed the Falkland Islands and entered the Straits of Magellan, with Patagonia on the right and Terra Del Fuego on the left, and were one week in the straights sailing only by daylight and such distances as would insure good harbors by night. There were two convict settlements on the straights and some Indians. The officers enjoyed frequent rambles on shore. At Valparaiso, Chili, they were shown specimens of gold recently taken from newly discovered gold mines in California.
The next point made was the Sandwich Islands, where they arrived in fifty-two days and remained eight days. They were constantly feted by the king as theirs was the first steamer ever seen by him. The officers gave the king and queen an excursion on board the steamer accompied by the royal retinue. The expedition reached the mouth of the Columbia River May 9, 1849–six months out of New York and having sailed twenty-two thousand miles–they proceeded up the river ninety miles to Fort Vancouver, the headquarters of the Hudson Bay Company, situated on the north bank of the Columbia River–what is now Washington. Here Company L, to which Woods now belonged landed, and Company M was ordered to Puget Sound.
In the spring of 1850 Lieutenant Woods with Company L was removed to Astoria near the mouth of the river and from this point Lieutenant Woods with two white men and two Indians attempted to find a practicable wagon road from Astoria to the plains across the coast range of mountains. They found the task more difficult than they anticipated and the party came near starving to death, living for some time on such provisions as they could find in the woods upon the mountains.
At another time Lieutenant Woods went in a row boat with the collector of the post of Astoria and a detail of men in the evening to seize a ship for violating the revenue laws. They ran along side the ship as she lay at anchor near the mouth of the river. The collector tried to climb the ladder hanging over the side but failed, when Lieutenant Woods and one man mounted the ladders and reached the deck when the ropes were cut by the ship’s crew, the ladder fell into the collectors boat and he pulled for shore leaving the lieutenant on board but calling back to him that he would come for him in the morning.
The ship hoisted anchor and immediately put to sea. The collector secured a pilot boat armed with a cannon and gave chase, but after a few hours’ pursuit and firing a few shots, the pilot boat gave up chase. After a tedious run the ship put into a recently discovered bay in the northern part of California, called Humboldt Bay, where several vessels were loading with timber for San Francisco. On one of these the lieutenant secured passage to San Francisco, and from there he secured passage to Astoria where he arrived after an involuntary absence of six weeks.
In April 1851, Lieutenant Woods was ordered with a detachment of men to the Dalles of the Columbia, east of the Cascade Range, where in the heart of Indian country he commanded a small post for eighteen months, the only military post at the time and he the only commissioned officer between the Cascade Mountains and Fort Laramie.
In September 1852, he returned to Fort Vancouver, which had now become a large post and headquarters for the Fourth United States Infantry, and at which place was then stationed several men since famous in history, among them Ulysses S. Grant. In February 1853, Lieutenant Woods received orders to report to the superintendent of the recruiting service at New York City. He sailed February 10th, and reached his destination via San Francisco and Panama.
In Jun 1853, he received leave of absence and visited Iowa and bought land in Clinton and Jackson counties. October 15, 1853, he resigned his commission and removed to his lands in Iowa and in September, 1856, married Miss Kezia Hight in Jones county, Iowa. He engaged in farming in Jackson County, Iowa, until the rebellion broke out, when he tendered his services to the Governor of Iowa and was commissioned Colonel of the 12th Iowa Infantry, Volunteers, October 23, 1861, and ordered to take immediate charge of the regiment then organizing at Camp Union, Dubuque, Iowa.
The regiment was mustered into the United States service by Captain Washington, Thirteenth United States Infantry, November 25, 1861, and on the 28th day of the same month broke camp at Dubuque and proceeded by rail to St. Louis, Missouri, where they arrived on the 30th and went immediately into camp of instruction at Benton Barracks. In January, 1862, the regiment was armed with Enfield rifles and fully equipped for the field.
January 27, 1862, Colonel Woods received orders to report his regiment to General Grant at Cairo, Illinois, where they arrived January 29, and were immediately embarked on board a steamer for Smithland, Kentucky, at the mouth of the Cumberland River, where the regiment established their first camp in the field, January 31, 1862. On the morning of February 5th, orders were received to embark on a steamer and join expedition fitting out for Tennessee River.
Arriving at Paducah, the regiment was assigned to Cook’s Brigade and to C. F. Smith’s division, and on the morning of February 6, landed four miles below Fort Henry, and took up a line of march to gain a position in the rear of the fort, but while floundering through the muddy swamps and almost impassable streams, the gunboats made the attack, drove the enemy from the works and captured the fort, most of the garrison escaping before the infantry reached their position in the rear.
February 12th, the command marched to Fort Donelson and were formed in line of battle, February 13th, on the extreme left, when they participated in the battle of the 13th, 14th and 15th, and followed the Second Iowa Infantry in their charge upon the works.
Colonel Woods in his official report says: About 2 o’clock p. m. of the 15th, the Twelfth Iowa, Fiftieth Illinois, and Birge’s sharpshooters were ordered to make a faint attack to draw the enemy’s fire. The men went cheerfully to the work and kept up a warm fire on the enemy while Colonel Lauman’s brigade on our left advanced on the enemy and got possession of his outer works and hoisted thereon the American flag, when we were ordered to his support and moved rapidly by the left flank, charged over the fallen timber, while a galling fire of grape from the enemy was pouring in on us. On reaching the breastworks some confusion was caused by the retreat of a portion of Colonel Lauman’s brigade, who having exhausted their ammunition, were compelled to fall back. By some exertion our men were rallied and opened a warm fire on the enemy which they returned from a battery on our right and musketry in front. In this cross fire we fought the enemy for two hours, advancing upon them to a deep ravine inside the works. Colonel Cook, who was commanding the brigade, in his report makes mention of Colonel Woods as deserving commendation for his gallant and efficient service.
At nightfall the regiment was withdrawn to the outer works of the enemy, where they remained through the night. Early in the morning of the 16th we were formed in a line to renew the battle, when a white flag appearing, the surrender was announced, and the regiment marched into the fort. With the exception of the Second Iowa Infantry, no troops were entitled to more credit for the capture of this stronghold than the Twelfth Iowa Infantry, and it being their first engagement, their steadiness and coolness was largely due to these qualities so prominent and marked in their commanding officer. The regiment was given quarters in log barracks occupied by rebels before the surrender, and remained in camp until March 12, 1862.
While at Fort Donelson, the regiment was visited by Samuel J. Kirkwood, governor of Iowa, and upon his return to Iowa he wrote to Colonel Woods as follows:
"Des Moines, Iowa, March 22, 1862.
"Dear Colonel Woods: Please apologize to your officers and men for not calling upon them again before I left Donelson. When at General Hurlbert’s headquarters the steamboat "Conestoga" came down and the officer in command politely offered passage in his boat which he said would leave in forty minutes, so we had only time to get our troops on board. Please explain this and express my regret that I could not have spent some time with you.
"The Iowa troops made themselves and our state a glorious name. The Second Iowa had the best chance for the honors at Donelson, but the Seventh, Twelfth and Fourteenth did nobly. Dr. Hughs, surgeon general of Iowa, has a brother in the brigade with your regiment. He says he has just received a letter from his brother, who writes that the Twelfth Iowa is a splendid regiment and fought gallantly at Donelson. Please write me when convenient. Let me advise you to care for your health. I was much pleased to see on my visit to your camp, that you were having it cleaned up nicely. Yours was the only regiment that was doing this. With many wishes for your health and success, I am yours truly,
"Samuel J. Kirkwood"
Resolutions as follows were adopted by the legislature of Iowa:
Resolved by the senate and house of representatives of the State of Iowa. First. That in the name of the whole people of the state, we thank the Iowa troops for their undaunted bravery and gallant conduct in the recent fight at Fort Donelson in which the post of honor they nobly sustained their own brilliant fame and won fresh and unfading laurels for the state. Second. That a copy of this resolution be forwarded of each of the Iowa regiments engaged in the battle of Fort Donelson.
Speaker House of Representatives
John R. Needham,
President of the Senate
Approved February 19, 1862,
Samuel J. Kirkwood.
State of Iowa, ss
I, Elijah Sells, Secretary of State, hereby certify that the foregoing is a true copy from the original enrolled resolution on file in my office. In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the great seal of the State of Iowa. Done at Des Moines this 20th day of February, 1862.
To Colonel Woods.
March 12, 1862, the command was reorganized and the Second, Seventh, Twelfth and Fourteenth Iowa infantries designated as the First Brigade, commanded by Colonel Tuttle of the Second Iowa, and assigned to Second division, commanded by General C. F. Smith.
Leaving Fort Donelson the division marched to Metal Landing on the Tennessee River and embarked on steamer for Pittsburgh Landing, where they established camp March 21, 1862, on the extreme right of Union line, near the river below the landing.
Early on the morning of April 6th, Colonel Woods formed his regiment on the parade ground and soon after, under the direction of brigade commander, moved to a position assigned to him in line of battle, occupying the left center of Tuttle’s Brigade, forming the extreme left of W. H. L. Wallace’s division, Fourteenth Iowa, next the left of Twelfth Iowa, formed the extreme left of its division and rested on the main road from the landing to Corinth.
The Twelfth Iowa was formed just behind the brow of a slight ridge, an open field in front of its right, a thick undergrowth in front of its left; in this position the troops were reviewed by General Grant, about 10 o’clock a. m., and were directed by him to hold the position at all hazards, and in this exposed position, across the Corinth road, the left brigade of W. H. L. Wallace’s division, and right of Prentiss’ division did sustain itself, not once being removed from its position, although repeatedly charged by the enemy until about 5:30 o’clock p. m. The persistent, desperate fighting done by these troops at this key of the position, delayed the whole Rebel army and saved the Federal army from being driven into the Tennessee River.
All the prominent confederate officers mention the fighting at this place. General Ruggles, commanding a division of Bragg’s army, says, "I ordered my staff officers to bring forward all of the field guns that could be collected from the left, which resulted in the concentration of ten batteries and one section as follows: (enumerates them), concentrating their fire enfilading Prentiss’ division on right flank, at this moment Second brigade and the Cresent Regiment pressed forward and cut off a considerable number of the enemy consisting of Prentiss” division, who were surrendered to the Cresent Regiment.
General Polk, commanding army corps, says: "About 5 o’clock p. m., my line attacked the enemy’s troops–the last that were left on the field. The attack was made in front and flank. The resistance was sharp and proved to be the commands of Generals Prentiss and W. H. L. Wallace. The latter was killed by troops of General Bragg, who was pressing him at the same time on his right."
Colonel Head, Seventeenth Louisiana Volunteers, says: "Between 1 and 2 o’clock on Sunday, we had carried all the enemy’s camps except Prentiss’. At this point the enemy made a determined stand and fro two hours success at that point seemed doubtful. I was ordered by General Ruggles to immediately bring up all the artillery and concentrate it upon this point. Assisted by the artillery fire the infantry succeeded in carrying the position and capturing General Prentiss and about two thousand men."
General Gibbons, commanding brigade, admits that his brigade was repulsed four different times and because he felt sensitive over the matter of official reports, asked a court of inquiry. Several other officers admit their repulse and the complete demoralization of their forces at this point and so great was the slaughter of the enemy that they gave to that point of the line immediately in front of the Twelfth, Fourteenth and Eighth Iowa the title or name of "Hornets’ Nest."
About 5:30 O’clock, General Wallace having been mortally wounded , General Tuttle succeeded to the command of the division, McClerand’s division on our right and Hurlbert’s on the left having fallen back to a new position near the river, Tuttle gave orders for his division to fall back, and the order was communicated to all regiments except the Twelfth and Fourteenth Iowa and they were safely conducted to the rear, but the aide sent to these regiments was killed before reaching them, General Tuttle claims, and they were left fighting the enemy in front until the enemy rushed around their flank exposed by withdrawal balance of division formed in the rear. Having just repulsed a desperate charge in front, the regiment was startled by the order given by Colonel Woods with no more excitement than when on parade. "Twelfth Iowa; about face; commence firing," when they beheld a full and perfect line of Grey formed in their rear. Delivering a few vollies into the face of this new enemy which broke their ranks, a charge was ordered.
Colonel Woods at the head of the regiment succeeded in cutting his way through the first line of enemy and arrived in the camp of the 3rd Iowa, near General Hurlbert’s headquarters where they encountered another line of the enemy drawn up in order across the line of retreat. Here, hemmed in by a perfect wall of fire, Colonel Woods was twice wounded in quick succession and dismounted.
Command of regiment then devolved to Captain Edgerton, who finding it impossible to cut his way out, surrendered the remnant of the regiment prisoners of war. At the same time there was surrendered the Fourteenth Iowa of Wallace’s division, and the Eighth Iowa and Fifty-eighth Illinois of Prentiss’s division; in all about two thousand men. General Prentiss, was present at the time, and taken prisoner with the rest, speaks in the highest terms in the conduct of Colonel Woods and his regiment in the field and says that to the persistent fighting of these four regiments, holding their grounds against such fearful odds, is due to the failure of Beauregard to drive our forces into the Tennessee River.
General Tuttle in his official report says: "On the morning of the 6th I proceeded my brigade, consisting of the Second, Seventh, Twelfth and Fourteenth Iowa Infantry, under direction of W. H. L. Wallace, and formed line on extreme left of his division. We had been in line but a few moments when the enemy made his appearance and attacked my left wing, Twelfth and Fourteenth Iowa, who gallantly stood their ground and compelled the assailants to retire in confusion. They again formed under cover of a battery and renewed the attack upon my whole line but were repulsed as before. A third and fourth time they dashed upon us but were each time baffled and completely routed.
We held our position about six hours, when it became evident that the forces on each side of us had given away, so as to give the enemy an opportunity of turning both of our flanks. At this critical moment General Wallace gave orders for my brigade to retire which was done in good order. The Second and Seventh retired through a severe fire from both flanks, while the Twelfth and Fourteenth, who were delayed by their endeavor to save a battery, were completely surrounded and compelled to surrender. Colonel Woods of the Twelfth Iowa particularly distinguished himself, was twice wounded and when the enemy was driven back on Monday he was captured."
Colonel Woods lay on the field wounded and was assaulted by some Texas troops with evident design of taking his life, but just at that moment he was recognized by General Hardee, with whom he had been acquainted at West Point, who gave him a special guard, and permit to Woods’ orderly to remain with him.
Soon after the surrender our gunboats commenced throwing shells into that vicinity, driving all the rebel troops from the field. None of the wounded were removed or cared for, but lay upon the field exposed to our shells and a severe rain storm all night. When our forces advanced Monday mourning, Colonel Woods was recaptured, wounds dressed, and a few days after he was sent north where he was detailed on recruiting service and remained on duty in the State of Iowa until about January 1, 1863. The men of his regiment who were captured at Shiloh, having been exchanged, he was ordered to Benton Barracks, St. Louis, Missouri, to reorganize his regiment, and soon after he was sent to Rolla, Missouri, where he remained a short time and then returned to St. Louis.
April 9, 1863, he embarked his regiment on board steamer under orders to join forces operating near Vicksburg, Mississippi.
He reported to General Grant at Duckport, Louisiana, April 14th at once was assigned to the command of the Third Brigade composed of the Eighth, Twelfth, and Thirty-Fifth Iowa infantries, Third Division, Fifteenth Army Corps. Heavy details were made from the brigade daily for guard and also work on the canal.
May 1st, Colonel Mathias of the Fifth Iowa was assigned to command, and Colonel Woods returned to command his regiment and May 2, 1863, left Duckport, Louisiana, with his regiment and marched via Richmond, Louisiana, to Grand Gulf, thence to Jackson, Mississippi, where the Twelfth Iowa was engaged on the 14th in the battle of Jackson, Mississippi, on extreme right of the line. Companies B and C on the skirmish line were among the first troops inside the rebel works, and took possession of the rebel camp with all of its equipage complete and diner ready to be eaten.
The regiment remained in Jackson one and a half days, employed first day in destroying railroad running north, and forenoon of the 16th in destroying rebel camps and other property. At 12 o’clock orders were received to reinforce the other corps of the army near Champion Hill as speedily as possible.
Leaving Jackson, the regiment marched with scarcely a halt to near Champion Hill where they arrived about 2 o’clock in the morning of the 17th, and after a rest of two or three hours marched north to a position on extreme right of Grants line and at night crossed Black River at Bridgeport. On the 18th the Fifteenth Corps with First Division in advance, took the road at Walnut Hills, pressing the corps between the rebels in Vicksburg and those at Yazoo River until the head of the column reached the Mississippi above Vicksburg, and the left rested on Jackson road. On the 19th the Third Brigade was sent to Yazoo River and took possession of the forts there, and opened communication with our fleet and after dismantling the fort, the brigade returned to position in line investing Vicksburg, and participated as reserve in the assaults made upon the works on the 19th and 2nd of May.
About June 1st, Colonel Woods was again assigned to command the brigade, which had gained an advance position in the line of approaches, and furnished daily heavy details for guard and for work in the trenches. Nearly every night the whole brigade was called into line by some alarm on the picket post.
June 22d, the brigade was relieved from its place in front line and with the remainder of the Fifteenth Corps sent back to Black River to guard the rear from an attack by Johnson; very heavy guard and patrol duty was kept up then until July 4th. Vicksburg surrendered and Sherman moved immediately upon Johnson, forcing a crossing of Black River the same day, and pushing Johnson back until he reached Jackson, Mississippi, which had been again strongly fortified. Sherman invested the place July 10th, and commenced a regular siege.
On July 15th, General Tuttle reported sick and Colonel Woods was assigned to command of the division, and next day moved his division to the right and relieved General Osterhan’s division from its place on the advance line.
On the 17th the rebels evacuated Jackson and burned the bridge over Pearl River, planting torpedo’s in the approaches to the bridge and ferry. On the 19th, the Third Brigade, Third Division, Fifteenth Corps with some other troops, including cavalry and artillery, pursued the enemy to Brandon, Mississippi, driving them through the town and capturing considerable rebel property stored in the railroad depot and warehouses which were all destroyed, and the next day the troops returned to Jackson, and a few days thereafter evacuated Jackson and fell behind Black River and went into camp July 25, 1863. Colonel Woods commanded the division until sometime in October, when General Asboth was assigned to the command and Colonel Woods returned to the command of the brigade.
November 7th the division embarked for Memphis, Tennessee, and the Third Brigade was assigned to duty guarding the railroad from Lagrange to Corinth, each regiment at a different post. Frequent skirmishes were had with the enemy and one severe engagement lasting nearly all day, brought on by the enemy in force attempting to destroy the railroad.
The Twelfth Iowa, stationed at Chewalla, reenlisted December 25, 1863. January 29, 1864, the brigade was ordered to Vicksburg and were on duty at Black River one month, while Sherman’s expedition was out of Meridian, Mississippi. Upon the return of said expedition, the non-veterans of the brigade were sent on an expedition up the Red River, the veterans ordered home on furlough. Reaching Davenport March 22nd, they were furloughed thirty days, at expiration of which time they returned to Davenport March 22d, and were assigned to the Third Brigade, Colonel Woods commanding; First Division, General J. A. Mower commanding; Sixteenth Army Corps, General A. J. Smith commanding. During the summer this command made two expeditions into the interior and July 13th, 14th and 15th, fought the battle of Tupelo, Mississippi, the Third Brigade doing most of the fighting and with their commander received great credit for their efficient service.
September 1st, the division embarked on steamer from Memphis and proceeded to Duvall’s Bluffs, Arkansas, and marched thence north in pursuit of Price, who had crossed the Arkansas River and started on a trip through Missouri.
The command marched to Cape Girardeau, Missouri, three hundred and thirty six mile in seventeen days; from Cape Girardeau to St. Louis in a steamboat where they arrived October 8, 1864. General Mower was transfered to General Sherman’s command at Atlanta, and Colonel Woods assigned to command of division and proceeded on steamer to Jefferson City, Missouri, arriving October 17th, and marched in pursuit of Price to Kansas City, thence south to Harrisonville, Missouri, keeping within sound of his guns but not succeeding in bringing him to battle. His command having been completely broken up, the infantry was ordered back to St. Louis, October 30th, marching via Sedalia and Jefferson City.
At Sedalia, Missouri, the troops were met by General McArthur, who had been assigned to command of division, and Colonel Woods returned to command of brigade, and through storms of snow and rain and fording streams filled with floating ice, marched his command back to St. Louis where they arrived November 15th, his brigade having marched within the last thirty days five hundred and forty three miles–within the last sixty days eight hundred and seventy-nine miles, and since June 16th, one thousand four hundred and nine miles.
At St. Louis, having served more than his full term of enlistment, Colonel Woods was mustered out of service, acceptably and with honor to himself and to the service.
Colonel Woods had a slender, stooping form, brown hair, light complexion, and mild blue eyes. He spoke slowly and kindly, and was accustomed to give his commands with great coolness and deliberation, never under the hottest fire varying in the least the modulation or deliberation of his orders.
His "Fall in, Twelfth Iowa!" on the 6th of April, 1862, or at time of a night alarm during the siege of Vicksburg, was heard by his men above every other sound, and always in the same tone as when on parade or review.
He had none of the style or austere manners of the regular army officers, and while very familiar and easy of approach by his subordinates, was a good disciplinarian and the men soon learned that he possessed great worth as a commanding officer, and while personally of the bravest and willing to lead his regiment to the severest contest, yet devoid of all rashness that would sacrifice his men without good reason.
His service richly merited recognition at Washington that he never received, but with him modestly blocked the wheels of promotion, and I doubt not it would be impossible to find any of his superior officers who would say that Colonel Woods ever sought promotion at their hands in any way but a faithful and earnest discharge of his duties in whatever command he was placed. His muster out was deeply regretted by all his old comrades, and especially by the men whom he had so often led and who had learned to appreciate the quiet but brave and generous Colonel Woods.
Upon his return home he removed from the farm in Maquoketa, where in company with C. F. McCarron, he purchased the "Maquoketa Excelsior," of which he became editor.
In the fall of 1867 he sold his interest in said paper and moved upon his farm in South Fork township, but in the next year returned to Maquoketa, and McCarron having failed to make payments on the paper and being involved in other losses where Woods was his security, he had to pay the loss. Woods again took control of the paper and published it until May, 1869, when he removed to Kansas.
In 1871 he was on the board of visitors at West Point, appointed by General Grant, and the same fall was one of three commissioners appointed by the Secretary of the Interior to appraise the Cherokee mutual lands in Indian Territory, west of the 96th meridian, and was also appointed the same fall, receiver of Humboldt land district, but declined the appointment. The same fall he was elected to the Kansas legislature, which convened in January, 1872. In March he was appointed one of the regents of the State University, He was a member of the Kansas legislature in 1875, and chairman of the committee on ways and means.
William Cutler wrote the following about this gentleman:
COL. J. J. WOODS, farmer and stock raiser, Section 8, Township 32, Range 21, P. O. Montana, came to Labette County, Kansas, June 11, 1869, and purchased his present farm which now consists of 760 acres of very fine improved land. He was born in Brown County, Ohio, January 11, 1823, is a son of Samuel and Allia Richey Woods, the father a native of Washington County, Pa., and the mother of Ireland, and when quite small came to America. They were married in Clermont County, Ohio, and settled on a farm, having a family of twelve children. J. J., eleven years of age, with a brother, went to Rush County, Ind., and remained two years, and then returned to Brown County, Ohio, and learned the saddler’s and harness trade. When twenty years of age, he entered the Augusta College of Kentucky and after five months, received an appointment to West Point. He graduated there in the class of 1847, and was appointed Second Lieutenant in First Regiment Artillery, U. S. A., and did service in the Mexican war, August, 1848. He returned to the states and was promoted to First Lieutenant November 10, 1848, and assigned to the Pacific coast, remaining there until 1853, then returned to New York and resigned his commission. In the fall of 1853 he went to Jackson County, Iowa and engaged in farming. September 18, 1856, he married Miss K. C. Hight, a native of Defiance County, Ohio, born April 5, 1840. They have five children – Oscar E., born October 2, 1857; Lillia A., born December 23, 1859. Clara E., born October 8, 1868; Nellie E., born February 10, 1877; and Jennie L., born June 28, 1880. Lost two children. October, 1861, he received a Colonel’s commission of the Twelfth Regiment Iowa Volunteer Company, and did active service for three years. He was many times in command of a brigade, participating in the engagements of Fort Henry, Donelson, Vicksburg and Shiloh, where he received two wounds. During 1864, he participated in the long and tedious marches through Missouri after General Sterling Price. After the command he returned to St. Louis, and was mustered out November 26, 1864 and returned to Iowa. In 1865, Mr. Woods became editor of the Maquoketa, Iowa, Excelsior, and continued to edit it with a short intermission, until he removed to Kansas. In 1871 he was appointed by the Secretary of the Interior, one of a commission of three to appraise the Cherokee lands west of the 96? degree in the Indian Territory, and in the same year was also one of the committee of seven, sent to West Point by General U. S. Grant. In 1872, was elected State Representative from Labette County, Kansas, and again in 1875, being Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, and before the close of the legislative session of 1872, was appointed a Regent of the Kansas State University. He has filled many public offices in Kansas having been Notary Public some twelve years and is one of Labette’s most representative men.
The Parsons Sun, Friday, Thursday, October 3, 1889, Pg. 1:
Death of Col. J. J. Woods
Col. J. J. Woods died at his residence in Montana township, of hemorage of the kidneys at the age of 66 years Friday morning, after an illness of ten days. Col. Woods was an old settler of this county, a substantial and highly respected citizen, and his death will be deplored throughout the entire county, his acquaintance extending into every township. He was a graduate of West Point, graduating in 1846, and was from the same congressional district from which Ulysses S. Grant went to West Point, the colonel being the next cadet chosen after Grant. After he graduated he was commissioned to a regiment in the Mexican war as a lieutenant and was placed in charge of the citadel near the city of Veracruz. After peace was declared he turned over the citadel to the Mexican authorities. At the breaking out of the rebellion he recruited the 12th Iowa infantry, of which he was made colonel. He was wounded twice at the battle of Shiloh and was taken prisoner alone with his regiment and held over night, but was recaptured the next morning by the Union forces and sent home, and as soon as his wounds would permit he recruited men for the war until his regiment was exchanged, when he again took command of it and fought, many a hard battle until the close of the war. He was twice appointed by President Grant to the office of inspector at West Point. He removed from Iowa to Kansas in May, 1869 and settled on the farm in Montana township, this county, where he died, and which is now occupied by his family, consisting of a wife and grown children. He was a staunch Republican, twice represented his district in the legislature, and was always prominent in politics. The remains were interred in the G. A. R. lot at Oakwood cemetery at 3 o’clock Saturday afternoon, the G. A. R. of this city forming in procession at their hall on Forest avenue and marching to the junction of the Johnson avenue road and the road leading to the cemetery, where they met and escorted the remains to the cemetery.