Lieutenant William D.
28th Virginia Infantry Regiment
William D. Woodson was twice captured and escaped. He was first captured in Pennsylvania immediately before the Battle of Gettysburg. He was sent to Johnson Island in Lake Erie and arrived on July 20, 1863. He escaped on February 21, 1864. The water pumps at the prison camp had frozen, and the prisoners were allowed to go out on the frozen lake to dip water from holes in the ice. During this process, it was customary for the Confederate prisoners and Union soldiers, who skated on the lake, to assemble in groups to trade rings and watch fobs for tobacco. Since old blue uniforms were being worn by some prisoners, William Woodson was able to hide among the Union soldiers when the Confederate soldiers were taken back in the prison. With the aid of a forged Union Army pass and civilian clothes that had been sent to him, he made a five week trip back to Virginia. On the way home, he stopped to visit his brother, Major B. L. Woodson. The second time he was captured was in Farmville, Virginia during the retreat from Petersburg in the latter days of the war. The prisoners were penned up at Burkeville, and the next day they were marched toward a permanent prisoner camp with a line of Union soldiers on each side. As he passed close to a large tree, William Woodson jumped behind it. Then he was able to get in the guard line because he was wearing old blue clothing that he had traded for the prior night.
William D. Woodson was twice wounded and returned to service. At the Battle of Gains Mill, his unit was pursuing the retreating enemy up a hill when he was wounded. At the time, he was wearing his haversack full of good Yankee crackers on his front to give himself a little protection. A bullet struck the haversack, and it was deflected into his groin. Although the wound was very painful, he recovered. At the Second Battle of Cold Harbor, he was wounded in the leg. While he was at home recovering from the wound, he married on December 13, 1864.
Fifty years after the war William D. Woodson published his recollections in the Weekly Fincastle, Virginia Herald. He described his feelings at the Battles of Gaines Mill, Malvern Hill, Fredericksburg, Wilderness, and the Crater. He also concluded that General Sherman did not put it too strongly when he said that "War is Hell." His division took part in Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg shortly after his captured. It is no doubt that the few survivors would have affirmed the conclusion.
William D. Woodson served in Company K of the 28th Virginia Infantry Regiment. This unit was in Pickett's Division and Longstreet's Corps. He was chosen to be a lieutenant after the Battle of Williamsburg.
Roxboro, North Carolina
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