Thomas Mayhew Woodruff – Major, United States Army

Biography and Photo Courtesy of Kenneth H. Robinson, July 2008:

Thomas Mayhew Woodruff was born on January 14th, 1849, in Buffalo, New York, the son of Brigadier General Israel C. Woodruff of the United States Army Corps of Engineers and Carolina Mayhew. Young Thomas was raised in Buffalo until 1857 when the family moved to Washington, D.C., as a result of his father’s position in the Military.

In 1861 he was enrolled as a Student at the Emerson Institute in Washington, D.C., and would remain at that Institute until 1867. In 1867 he received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, and he entered the Military Academy as a Cadet on September 1st, 1867. He spent the next four years as a Cadet at the Military Academy earning the appointments of Corporal, Sergeant, and Lieutenant, in the Corps of Cadets. On June 12th, 1871, after completing the four years of cadet life, Thomas Woodruff graduated 15th in his class from the Military Academy and received an appointment as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry and was assigned to the 5th United States Infantry Regiment.

Following graduation he joined the 5th Infantry Regiment on September 29th, 1871 at Fort Scott, Kansas, and would later move to Fort Wallace, Kansas, serving at the two posts, as well as being detached to command the two camps at Limestone and Drywood Creek from July 1st, 1872, to March of 1863. He would remain in Kansas until April 16th, 1873, when he was transferred to Fort Gibson, Indian Territory, being at that post from April 17th, 1863, to October 2nd, 1875. During his time at Fort Gibson he was granted two leaves of absence, the first being from June 13th to August 4th, 1874, and the second from October 22nd to November 22nd, 1875. On November 22nd, 1875, he joined his Company at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and remained with them until April 26th, 1876, when he was detailed to conduct a survey of the Staked Plains and the headwaters of the Red River, which he was engaged with until July 8th, 1876, and upon his return from that duty he was assigned to conduct scouting operations in Montana and the Dakota’s during which time he was engaged in several skirmishes until October of 1876, when he rejoined the Company at Fort Leavenworth.



From November 11th, 1876, to March of 1877, he was detailed to the Office of the Chief Engineer of the Department of the Missouri, which was the result of his survey of the Red River region. He rejoined the Company again on April 28th, 1877, in the Camp on the Tongue River, and was stationed with them there until May 17th, 1877, when he was detailed to conduct scouting in Montana until August of 1877. On September 16th, 1877, he was assigned to Fort Keogh, Montana, and would be stationed there until October 10th, 1878, during this time though he took part in the Sioux Expedition of May and in the expedition against the Nez Perc Indians from September to October of 1877. During the later Campaign he was engaged in the fight at Bear Paw Mountain on September 30th, 1877, at which place his actions would earn him the brevet promotion of First Lieutenant on February 27th, 1890, for his gallant services rendered in that action. Following these campaigns Lieutenant Woodruff was granted a leave of absence from October 10th, 1878, to August 11th, 1879, and upon the expiration of that leave he returned to duty at Fort Keogh, Montana.

While on his leave he was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant of Infantry on July 5th, 1879, and continued in his posting to the 5th Infantry Regiment. He would remain at Fort Keogh to February 8th, 1883, however in the meantime he took part in several scouting expeditions and was engaged in the fighting near Poplar River on January 2nd, 1881, and was also give two leaves of absence, the first from May 29th to September 27th, 1881, and the second from March 28th to September 26th, 1882.

In 1882 Lieutenant Woodruff married Miss Annie Sampson (January 17th, 1855, to April 9th, 1933) of Cincinnati, Ohio, and the couple would later have a daughter, Elizabeth Sampson Woodruff who was born on May 9th, 1885 (died on July 8th, 1971). In February of 1883 he was assigned to the Office of the Chief Signal Officer in Washington, D.C., and as such was stationed in Washington, D.C., then at Fort Myer, Virginia, and finally at St. Paul, Minnesota, on signal duties until June 1st, 1888. His duty at St. Paul was that of a Weather forecaster, regrettably as such he ran afoul of the local authorities and a dispute soon erupted between himself and the local officials, the end result of this dispute was that the Office at St. Paul was closed and Lieutenant Woodruff was ordered to return to his Regiment. Following his duty in the Signal Office he rejoined his Company at Fort Bliss, Texas, where he would remain until October 30th, 1888, when he obtained a leave of absence to allow him to travel abroad in Europe until July 14th, 1889, when he returned to the United States and active duty once again.

Shortly after Lieutenant Woodruff’s return he was assigned to duty as an Aide-de-Camp on the Staff of Brigadier General Thomas H. Ruger, United States Army, who was then commanding the Division of the Pacific, and would serve on the staff of General Ruger from August 28th, 1889, to March 9th, 1891. From March 5th to April 11th, 1891, he was detailed again as an Aide-de-Camp to the Secretary of War who was then on an Inspection tour of the Northwest. While on this detail he was promoted to Captain of Infantry with the 5th Infantry Regiment on March 9th, 1891, and as such was relieved from duty as an Aide-de-Camp, however he was held over to continue in his duties at the Headquarters of the Division of the Pacific in San Francisco, California, until June 30th, 1891. From June to September of 1891 he was again on a leave of absence, but rejoined the Regiment in September at the St. Francis Barracks in Florida, and would remain stationed there until October of 1894. His next assignment was with the Company at Fort McPherson near Atlanta, Georgia, where he remained on duty until October of 1896.

In October of 1896 he was assigned to duty at Tallahassee, Florida, with the Florida State Troops to help in the training of those troops, and was engaged with them from that time until May of 1898, when the United States declared a state of war between themselves and Spain. As a result Captain Woodruff was immediately assigned to duty as a Mustering Officer at Tampa, Florida, and from May to June of 1898 was engaged in mustering in the Volunteer Forces of the State of Florida.

On May 12th, 1898, Captain Woodruff received an appointment as a Major and Inspector General of United States Volunteers, and accepted the appointment shortly thereafter. He reported for duty at the Headquarters of the 5th Army Corps under Major General William R. Shafter, U.S. Volunteers, and served with the Corps Headquarters, he was engaged in the Operations in Cuba against Santiago de Cuba. On July 3rd, 1898, he was assigned as the Inspector General of a Provisional Division of the Corps under Major General John C. Bates, U.S. Volunteers. This Division was later designated as the 3rd Division of the 5th Army Corps, and Major Woodruff served on the Division staff until September 12th, 1898, when he was granted a sick leave of absence to November 30th, 1898. Upon his return the Division had been reassigned to the 2nd Army Corps and was in Camp at Greenville, South Carolina, where he remained on duty with them until April 15th, 1899, when he was once again given a leave of absence that lasted until May 21st, 1899. He returned to duty and on June 13th, 1899, he was honorably discharged from Volunteer service.

On May 21st, 1899, he rejoined the Regiment in Santiago de Cuba and was assigned to duty as the Regimental Adjutant the following day, which post he held until July 11th, 1899. Captain Woodruff had been suffering since July of 1898 from the effects of yellow fever, which he caught while engaged in the Santiago Campaign, he had been recovering but he suffered a sudden relapse and on July 11th, 1899, he died of the illness at Santiago de Cuba at the age of 51.

The Captain’s remains were interred in a cemetery in Santiago, however in 1900 the remains were disinterred and brought back to the United States, where on Monday, March 5th, 1900, he was laid to rest in Section 1 of the National Cemetery in Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, present at the grave were five of the Captain’s West Point classmates, as well as his wife and daughter.

March 5, 1900:

WOODRUFF – At Santiago, Cuba, July 11, 1899, Thomas Mayhew Woodruff, Captain and Adjutant, Fifth United States Infantry.  Funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, March 5, 1900.

His private memorial in Section 1 of Arlington National Cemetery reads:

Thomas Mayhew Woodruff

  • Captain, 5th United States Infantry
  • Major, Inspector General Of Volunteers
  • Born: Buffalo, New York, January 14, 1849
  • Died: Santiago de Cuba, July 11, 1899
  • Monument (c) Tiffany Studios, New York City, 1901

Courtesy of Michael T. Stein:

Major Thomas Mayhew Woodruff
Born in Buffalo, New York, January 14, 1849
Died July 11, 1899

Cadet U. S. Military Academy 1867-71
Second Lieutenant June 12, 1871
First Lieutenant July 5, 1879
Captain March 9, 1891
Major (US Volunteers) May 12, 1898
Served with 5th Infantry Regiment 1871-98
Inspector General duties  U. S. Volunteers 1898

Thomas Mayhew Woodruff of New York
Appointed from the District of Columbia, Cadet, United States Military Academy
Second Lieutenant, 5th U.S. Infantry, 12 June 1871
First Lieutenant,  5 July 1879
Captain, 9 Mar 1891
Major, U.S. Volunteers, 12 May 1898 to 13 June 1899
Brevet First Lieutenant, 27 February 1890 for gallant service in action against Indians at Bear Paw Mountain, Montana, 30 September 1877
Died 11 July 1899

Thomas Mayhew Woodruff, Born 1849, Died 1898  married Annie Sampson 1822-1933


  • DATE OF DEATH: 07/11/1899

His wife and daughter are buried in Rome, Italy, per the information below:


  • ROME APRIL 9, 1933
  • ROME JULY 8, 1971

   Iconography minor on in general cross, plain minor on in general cross, Celtic.

Washington, 1894 May 9. On vellum. 2½-inch diameter blue paper seal affixed at lower left. Vignettes at top center and bottom center. In part: “Know Ye, That I do hereby confer on Thomas M. Woodruff of the Army of the United States by and with the advice and consent of the Senate the rank of First Lieutenant by Brevet, in said army to rank as such from the twenty seventh day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety for gallant service in action against Indians at Bear Paw Mountain, Montana, September 30, 1877….”






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