...I received a small package by express, and with it a note creditable to the writer and humanity. With this note came my spurs as bright and untarnished as ever to the eye, but infinitely more valuable for the rich sentiments expressed by the writer that lends them a lustre more bright and precious than gold. I need not say that they are treasured in my household.
During the latter part of the war, Carle Augustus Woodruff, of New York, was a young Lieutenant serving as the Left Section Chief of Batteries B & L (combined), 2nd U. S. Artillery. Joseph Brevard Kershaw was a Confederate Major General, commanding a division of infantry in the Army of Northern Virginia. At 43 years of age, Kershaw was fully 20 years older than Woodruff, but both men had served through the war.
On April 6, 1865, the men met, face to face, following the Battle of Sailor's Creek. As far as I can tell, there is no blood relation between them, but there seems to be a striking resemblance. Both men are of fair complexion, with blue eyes, light hair, strong square jaws, and aquiline noses. But I think its more than that...its the manner in which they conducted themselves. Perhaps young Woodruff looked into the face of Kershaw and saw his own father - or himself, 20 years older?
Here's our guy Lieut Woodruff at age 21 (pictured far right) at Fair Oaks June 1862. Image entitled: Fair Oaks, Va., vicinity. Capt. James M. Robertson (third from left) and officers from LOC From L-R: Wilson, Vincent, Robertson, Woodruff.
On that day, April 6th of 1865, after a long, hard campaign and an even harder fight, Anderson, with Pickett and B R Johnson, had been routed by the Union cavalry, opening the way for Custer and Merritt to attack Custis Lee, Ewell, and Kershaw's tired infantry force, in reverse. At the same time, the Confederates were overwhelmed in front by the infantry and artillery of the Sixth Corps. Some historians estimate the Confederate loss that day at more than 8000 killed, wounded, and captured.
In his belated report, Kershaw wrote: "The conduct of the officers and men of the command, under these trying circumstances, is beyond all praise and worthy the reputation of these veteran Regiments. On no Battlefield of the war have I felt a juster pride in the conduct of my command."
Kershaw, along with two of his brigadiers and one of his staff officers were captured there at Sailor's Creek by a Corporal of the 2nd Ohio Cavalry who escorted them to Custer's headquarters. [See that story HERE] When Kershaw and his party arrived at Custer's headquarters as prisoners of war, it was the young Lieut Carle A Woodruff who met them, provided them with food and drink, and made them comfortable as they awaited Custer's arrival. The next day, in grateful appreciation for the courtesy and kindness extended by Woodruff, Kershaw presented him with "a splendid pair of spurs" that Kershaw had "worn since the first Manassas."
In his 1876 account, Kershaw tells of the return of those same spurs: "Ten years after, I received a small package by express, and with it a note creditable to the writer and humanity. With this note came my spurs as bright and untarnished as ever to the eye, but infinitely more valuable for the rich sentiments expressed by the writer that lends them a lustre more bright and precious than gold. I need not say that they are treasured in my household."
Apparently, the spurs were returned in 1875; the account was written by Kershaw in 1876; and the article was published in the newspaper in 1897. By then, Kershaw was dead, having passed in April 1894, and Woodruff was a Major of Artillery in the U S Army (he eventually made Brigadier General.)
Woodruff (circled in red) with other officers of the US Horse Artillery at Culpeper, VA 1863 LOC Link
Excerpt of letter Joseph B. Kershaw to Carle A. Woodruff, dated Camden, South Carolina, 1876, later published in The Anderson Intelligencer. (Anderson Court House, SC) February 03, 1897, page 1.
Carle Augustus Woodruff FindAGrave Memorial