* OFFICIAL *
- Mar 15, 2013
Fought April 6, 1865, near Farmville, Virginia as part of the Appomattox Campaign, the Battle of Sailor's Creek occurred just three days before the surrender of Lee's Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House. The Confederate loss at Sailor's Creek is generally estimated at not less than 8,000 in killed, wounded, and captured. NINE Confederate Generals were captured there, including Maj Gen Joseph Brevard Kershaw.
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. When Kershaw and his companions arrived as prisoners of war at the headquarters of George Armstrong Custer, it was Lt. Woodruff who met them and provided hospitality as they awaited Custer's arrival.
In 1876, Kershaw wrote to Woodruff, recounting the details of that memorable day. The letter was later published in The Anderson Intelligencer. Today's 'Say What' quote comes directly from that letter:
"Why General," said Custer, taking my hand with a kindly smile somewhat tinged by humor, "I am glad to see you here. I feel as if I ought to know you." "Yes," said I, "General we have met very often, but not under circumstances favorable to making an acquaintance." This little passage of pleasantry made us quite at home immediately, and very soon the conversation became free, general and kindly around the campfire. With a soldier's hospitality, we were made to feel welcome by our host, notwithstanding our misfortunes, enjoying not a little the camp luxuries of coffee, sugar, condensed milk, hard tack, broiled ham, etc., etc., spread before us upon a tent fly converted into a table cloth, around which we all sat upon the ground, Custer and his rebel guests.
After supper, we smoked and talked over many subjects of interest to all of us, dwelling, however, almost wholly upon the past. The future to us was not inviting and our host, with true delicacy of feeling, avoided the subject. We slept beneath the stars, Custer sharing his blanket with me. Very soon, he was asleep and I lay watching the glittering hosts of heaven....We lay in the midst of Custer's squadrons; thousands of men lay around us....[The Anderson Intelligencer. (Anderson Court House, SC) February 03, 1897, page 1.]