Lt. James T. Woodward Camp 1399
Sons of Confederate Veterans
Warner Robins, Georgia
P.O. Box 1823, Warner Robins, GA 31099 -

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Our Camp Namesake:  Lt. James T. Woodward

Who is James Thomas Woodward?

Lt. James Thomas Woodward, Company D 12th GA 'Calhoun Rifles' James Elkin Thomas Woodward was born 18 March 1837 in southern Bibb County on a thousand-acre plantation. He was the seventh child and the second son of Stephen and Jane (Barnett) Woodward to reach maturity. His father, Stephen Woodward, grew up in the Camden district of South Carolina and was the son of Thomas Woodward, Jr. and the grandson of Thomas Woodward who served as a justice in the Camden district during the American Revolution. Lt. Woodward's mother, Jane Barnett, grew up on a large plantation in the Camden district. Her ancestors can be traced back to Humphrey Barnett who sailed from England to Port Royal, South Carolina in 1655.

James Thomas Woodward's parents, Stephen Woodward and Jane Barnett, were married in 1824. During the early 1830s, they moved their young family to more fertile land toward the west. After a short stay in Montgomery County in South Central Alabama, they moved to southern Bibb County, Georgia. Stephen Woodward later owned properties in Lee County GA9 and elsewhere.

Their apparently solidly built plantation home stood on a little knoll just off what's now Hartley Bridge Road in Bibb County near the Church of Christ and about two miles from where Interstate 75 was built. [ Map ]  Local residents discovered in the early 1980s what they believed to be the remains of the original home foundation. The Woodward family cemetery was located near that home.

James Thomas Woodward was born in that house and grew up on this small-to-medium plantation along with his siblings amongst which were his elder brother 1st Lt. John Hartwell Woodward (Co. D, 10th Batn GA Inf., 'Whittle Guards') and his younger brother (by 9 years) William Washington Woodward (Co. B, 27th GA Inf., the 'Rutland Grays'). All three brothers served as soldiers in different military units during the War for Southern Independence, the elder two as commissioned officers. The planter-class in Georgia was small and represented only 6% of all farms in the state. By definition, planters were farmers who owned more than 500 acres of land. Small plantations typically contained 500 or so acres and 10-15 slaves. Medium sized plantations had about 1000 acres and 25-100 slaves. Stephen Woodward in 1850 was listed in the Agricultural Census as having 1000 acres and 27 slaves. Large plantations had thousands of acres and hundreds of slaves.

In 1859 (Feb. 22), at the age of 21, James Thomas Woodward married Louisa Melvina Respess of Upson County. With their infant son, Stephen Nathaniel (born 26-Dec-1859), they moved to Calhoun County in Southwest Georgia where they purchased a 503 acre farm10. The storm clouds of dissent soon thereafter spread across a divided nation. On January 19, 1861 delegates from across Georgia overwhelmingly signed the Ordinance of Secession in Milledgeville. (Stephen & John Hartwell Woodward were among Bibb County leaders in favor of secession. Rutland Secession Meetings ) Less than three months later it became clear at Fort Sumter that the Confederate States of America would have to fight for its independence. All across Georgia and throughout the South, young and old men were answering the call to arms to defend their home and country.

At the age of 24, James Thomas Woodward joined the Calhoun Rifles in Morgan, Georgia as a sergeant. The Calhoun Rifles were mustered into Confederate service as Company D of the 12th Georgia Infantry Regiment 10 June 1861 in Richmond, Virginia. [ Click Here to view the Muster Roll from Company D, 12th GA Infantry, Calhoun Rifles, from the Macon Daily Telegraph, June 28, 1861.] {Roster Company D, 12th GA}

During the autumn of 1861, Sgt. Woodward participated with the 12th Georgia in what is now West Virginia during General Robert E. Lee's unsuccessful Cheat Mountain campaign. After the Battles of Greenbrier River and Allegheny Mountain, he was promoted to Junior 2nd lieutenant in December. The fact that he entered service as a sergeant and within seven months was promoted into the ranks of commissioned officers speaks well of his experience, aptitude, resourcefulness and attitude.

Battle of McDowell, Virginia [May 1862]

Battle of McDowell Reenactment May 4-6,2012
Battle Description - NPS
More Battle Description - VA
More Battle Description - WikiPedia

During early May of 1862, the 12th Georgia Infantry regiment was part of a 2,800 man detachment commanded by General Edward " Allegheny" Johnson which had been forced from its mountain positions and was being pressed eastward by U.S. Brigadier General Robert H. Milroy, who led the Vanguard of General John Charles Fremont's army. For some time General "Stonewall" Jackson had been hoping to find or create a situation where he could outnumber and do battle with the federals. As he took command of "Allegheny" Johnson's 2,800 man detachment after their junction, a few days later this hope materialized.

By the evening of 5 May, Jackson's entire arm of 7200 men was camped around Staunton, VA. Only six miles to the west were General Edward "Allegheny" Johnson's six confederate regiments withdrawing toward "Stonewall" under pressure from Milroy's federal troops. On 7 May, having heard from scouts and spies the surprising news that Jackson and Johnson were combining against him, Milroy began to fall back westward toward the Alleghenies along the Staunton-Parkersburg Highway. Johnson, who was spoiling for a fight (after having been chased so far), went after him.

General Jackson got his own troops on the road early on the morning of 7 May. While his regiments marched westward, Jackson rode ahead and caught up with Johnson's rear units on the eastern slopes of the Alleghenies. There, on the 8th of May, Jackson met with officers of Johnson's units.

Hotchkiss escorted the general over the huge hump of Bull Pasture Mountain and, shortly before they reached the end of the steep descent led him off to the left through a narrow gorge. Choked though it was with boulders and brush, the defile was the only negotiable route onto an isolated spur called Sitlington's Hill. Atop that steep-sided ridge was a mile-long plateau broken by ravines and studded with sharply rising hillocks. There, Edward Johnson was already deploying his infantry.

Johnson was a rough customer, a large unkempt man with a bellowing voice and a nervous tic that made one eye wink constantly. He loved a brawl, and for that Jackson was happy to have him on the scene. As the two generals faced westward from Sitlington's Hill, they saw 500 feet beneath them the rain-swollen Bull Pasture River. Beyond the stream on the flat surface of the flood plain, hemmed in on all sides by towering mountains, lay the village of McDowell--- crowded with federal troops. Approximately 500 yards West of the Bull Pasture River, on a lower ridge running roughly parallel to Sitlington' s Hill, federal artillery was in place.

The Confederates seemed clearly to hold the advantage. After months of trying, Jackson had at last brought together a numerically superior force against a federal detachment. If both sides got all their men into action, Jackson would pit nearly 10,000 against Milroy's 6,000, including reinforcements under Brigadier General Robert C. Schenck, who had just arrived at McDowell and, being senior, had assumed command. Moreover, from their dominant position on Sitlington's Hill, Jackson's artillery could presumably sweep clean both the town of McDowell and the federal - held ridge which lay beyond.

There was a hitch, however. The gorge, which provided Jackson's only access to Sitlington's Hill was too rough to permit the passage of horse-drawn artillery -and thus Jackson lost his main advantage. Ordering Johnson to remain on the hill, he descended to deploy his arriving troops for an attack across the Bull Pasture River.

Schenck and Milroy knew nothing of the hitch in Jackson's plan. They did know from scout reports that they were outnumbered, and when the scouts told them the Confederate artillery was headed for Sitlington's Hill, the federal commanders judged that retreat was inevitable. But they had to buy time -if the Confederates succeeded in placing cannon on Sitlington's Hill, the retreating federal columns would be decimated. To prevent that, Milroy suggested and Schenck reluctantly approved a preemptive assault which might keep the Confederates pinned down until nightfall and enable the bulk of the federal troops to escape under cover of darkness.

Therefore, shortly after 4:30p.m.,  2,000 federals ---having crossed the Bull Pasture River on a bridge concealed from view by woods ---came charging hard up Sitlington's Hill. In Jackson's absence, the defense of the hill was in Edward Johnson's hands and he had all he could manage. The first federal rush almost broke the Confederate right. But Jackson, hearing the crackle of gunfire, rushed up Taliaferro's infantry and the right flank held.

Then, the federals struck at Johnson's most vulnerable point- the center, where a Confederate wedge pointed toward the attacking enemy, exposing the defenders to both frontal and oblique fire. The imperiled sector was manned by the 12th Georgia Infantry regiment. The 12th was the only non-Virginia regiment on the Confederate side, and it meant to show its worth. When ordered to pull back to a more defensible line, the Georgians refused.

Instead, they stood up, the better to fire down at the enemy climbing the hill. But now the Georgians, silhouetted against the sky, made perfect targets and they took heavy losses. It was in this manner that Lt. James Thomas Woodward was hit in the neck and instantly killed. The 12th Georgia suffered 175 casualties which amounted to approximately 35% of all Confederate casualties. In spite of these heavy losses, the Georgia line held.

Next day, when asked why the regiment had defied orders, a tall Georgia lad replied, "We did not come all this way to Virginia to run before Yankees". In this battle, Jackson had suffered 498 casualties against Milroy's 256, yet had forced the enemy from the field and effectively prevented any linkup at Staunton between Banks and Fremont. This outcome Jackson reported characteristically to Richmond: "Yesterday crowned our arms with success. The enemy is retreating".

Aftermath: Family and descendants

The only direct descendants of Lt. James Thomas Woodward are through his son, Stephen Nathaniel, who was born in 1859 (26-Dec) and was about three years old when his father was killed. Lt. Woodward's only other child, Annie, died as an infant shortly after his death and it is doubtful that they ever saw each other. James' widow returned to her native Upson County, where she married James W. Dickey in 1867. She died in 1893 and is buried in Upson County.

Stephen Nathaniel Woodward was raised by his paternal grandparents (Stephen and Jane Barnett Woodward) who sold their Bibb County property holdings and moved to Dooly County GA11. The elder Woodwards are listed there in the 1870 Dooly County census as are their sons John Hartwell Woodward and William W. Woodward, and grandson Stephen. The elder Woodwards as well as John H. Woodward and William W. Woodward are buried in the Vienna City Cemetery (Dooly County). Find-A-Grave memorials document their location.

Young Stephen eventually became a lawyer who practiced in central Georgia and the Flint Circuit12. He married Ora Lee Blalock and they had a son, Warren and daughter, Grace. Ora B Woodward died young in 1894 and Stephen N. Woodward died in August 1899 at age 39. His teen orphan children were taken in by their maternal aunt who lived in Barnesville (Pike County, later Lamar County) GA13.

Warren Rufus Woodward, son of Stephen N. Woodward and grandson of James T. Woodward, was listed in the 1910 Bibb County GA census. He was drafted into the US Army in WWI (1917-18). He and his wife Gertrude were listed in the 1920 Bibb County census (Macon) and in the 1930 Fulton County (Atlanta) census. WR Woodward died in 1952 in Fulton County; his wife Gertrude in 1959.

Fanny Grace (Woodward) Howard, the daughter of Stephen N. Woodward, often heard her father tell of climbing a fence post to watch soldiers carry in the flag-draped coffin of his father, Lt. Woodward. Her obituary appeared in the Barnesville News-Gazette October 4, 1956. She was a proud member of Willie Hunt Smith Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. She is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Barnesville.

The Burial of Lt. James T. Woodward

Lt. James T. Woodward's elder brother, John Hartwell Woodward, was tendered leave from Camp Oglethorpe in Macon (where he was serving with Company D 10th GA Batn) and, with a trusted and loyal slave, made the trip to McDowell Virginia to return the body to Bibb County for burial. The remoteness of McDowell is emphasized by the fact that a two-day wagon trip was then required to reach a railroad. John Hartwell Woodward, who is present day Macon's Dr. Charles Kellum's great grandfather, made all funeral arrangements and wrote the following memorial [ see image of obituary ] and signed it "a friend":

"Death of Lieut. J. T. Woodward"

Lieutenant Woodward of the Calhoun Rifles 12th Regiment Georgia Volunteers, fell a martyr to the holy cause of liberty in the Battle of McDowell on the 8th, inst. What tribute shall we offer to the memory of one so good, so noble, so loved, so brave? He was ever ready to go where duty called or the good of the cause demanded. He was distinguished for his courage, coolness and skill. He and his gallant captain fell at the same moment and in the thickest of the fight. He was shot through the neck and died instantly. He was 25 years, one month and 20 days old.

"It is enough to say he has been with his regiment and was always at this post and has borne the hardships and suffering they have undergone since June last and without a murmur. He was a native of Bibb County , Georgia but for that past three years was a citizen of Calhoun County, Georgia. He enjoyed the full confidence of all who knew him. He was a man of unblemished integrity, scrupulously honest in his dealing with his fellow man.

"He lived in peace and harmony with his devoted wife until that fell monster, death, separated him from a fond wife and two loving children. No more will she feel her gentle spirit warmed with the light of his eyes or his look of affection. Her soul is smitten, yet she grieves not as one without hope, for in a bright land we trust they will meet again. He was a kind husband, father, son and brother. His death has brought sorrow and affliction upon his stricken family and a large circle of sympathizing friends share their grief, while the community has lost one of their most useful citizens and the South, a true brave friend.

"His remains were interred in the family grave yard in Bibb County on the 17th, inst. Peace be to his ashes".

--A Friend

After signing the above memorial "A FRIEND" the following words appear and presumably are a part of the memorial because they are engraved upon the obelisk marking Lt. James Thomas Woodward' s grave:

"Shot on the 8th of May 1862 in the
Battle of McDowell in command of
his company at the time he was killed".

Photos from Memorial Services at Woodward Cemetery
Click here for larger image - Woodward memorial service Click here for larger image - Woodward memorial service Click here for larger image - Woodward memorial service honor guard Woodward grave site ca. 1985

1) Woodward family written and oral history
2) Time-Life "Civil War Series -Decoying the Yanks - Jackson's Valley Campaign" pages 100-104, approx.
3) Woodward SCV Camp #1399 members and relatives of Lt. Woodward
4) Macon Daily Telegraph June 28, 1861
5) Linked Sources: Camp Oglethorpe, John Griffin, Camp 674
6) Lillian Henderson's Roster of the Confederate Soldiers of Georgia 1861 - 1865
7) Joseph H. Crute, Jr.'s Units of the Confederate States Army, Confederate staff officers, 1861-1865
8) Macon Daily Telegraph May 28, 1862 Obituary (page 3, column 4)
9) Stephen Woodward advertised his 1215 acre plantation in Lee County Georgia, six miles east of Starkville, GA as FOR SALE in the Macon Daily Telegraph dated October 22, 1862, page 2, column 3
10) J.H. Woodward advertised Calhoun County property (503 acres) for sale from the estate of James T. Woodward (KIA 8-May-1862 at McDowell) in the Macon Daily Telegraph September 21, 1864, page 2, column 5. The sale was to be the first Tuesday of November next at the court house door in Morgan, GA, for distribution to heirs of the deceased James T. Woodward. J.H. Woodard published notice (sixty days) of intent to apply to Calhoun County Court of Ordinary, for leave to sell property from the estate of James T. Woodward deceased, published in the Macon Daily Telegraph on 12-Dec-1862, page 2, column 6.
11) Stephen N. Woodward, age 11 in 1870, is listed on the 1870 Dooly County Census (page 407A) as living with Stephen [63] and Jane [62] Barnett Woodward. James T. Woodward's widow, Louisa Melvina Respess Woodward, remarried in 1867 to James Willis Dickey and they lived in Upson County Georgia (both Dickeys buried at Ebenezer Primitive Baptist Church cemetery in Upson County GA).
and they lived in Upson County Georgia (both Dickeys buried at Ebenezer Primitive Baptist Church cemetery in Upson County GA
12) The Pike County Journal [Zebulon, Pike County, Georgia], in its August 4, 1899 issue reported the death of Col. S.N. Woodward.
13) The 1900 Pike County Georgia census (page9) lists Warren R Woodward, age 15 [nephew], and Grace Woodward, age 12 [niece], as living in the home of Matthew T. Grace [38] and Fannie B. Grace [33], occupation hotel keepers in Barnesville, along with other children.

For information, please write
Lt. James Woodward Camp 1399
PO Box 1823, Warner Robins, GA 31099
Contact Camp officers listed on the home page by email.

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