RICHARD HOBSON WOOLWORTH, Colonel of the Fourth Reserve regiment, was born at Mantuaville, Philadelphia, in November, 1824. After receiving a thorough education in the schools of the city, he passed a novitiate in business in prominent commercial houses. He was afterwards connected with a leading house in stock exchange and brokerage, and two years before the opening of the war, established in this line a business of his own. He had been made Captain of a militia company in 1845, raised to protect the city against the riots which at that time threatened its peace, and when the call was made for troops to form the Reserve Corps, in 1861, he rendered signal service in drilling the new levies, and was finally made Captain of a company recruited in Germantown. Upon the formation of the Third Reserve, at Camp Washington, he was made Major, and subsequently, while the division was at Fredericksburg, just previous to its setting out for the Peninsula, he was ordered to the Fourth Reserve, in which he was commissioned Lieutenant-Co1onel. At Beaver Dam Creek and Gaines” Mill he shared the fortunes of the Reserves, who were put at the fore front and did severe duty. At Charles City Cross Roads Colonel Woolworth was severely wounded, and on the day after the battle, while lying in the hospital, was taken prisoner and moved to Richmond. He was soon after paroled and sent to hospital at David”s Island, New York, where, thirty days after the battle, portions of his coat were extracted from his wounds. While yet lame he rejoined his command, and led it in the battle of Fredericksburg, where he was struck by a spent ball, from the effect of which he was confined to the hospital for two weeks. On the 1st of March, 1863, he was promoted to Colonel. After the transfer of a portion of the Reserves to Harper”s Ferry, he had for a time command of a brigade.
In the spring of 1864, General Crook headed a column which penetrated West Virginia, of which the Fourth Reserve formed part. In the sanguinary battle of Cloyd Mountain, fought on the 9th of May, 1864, while the Reserves, under General Sickel, were charging upon the enemy”s position in the face of a fierce fire of artillery and small arms, Colonel Woolworth, in leading on his men with great gallantry, was mortally wounded by a grapeshot. He was buried on the field beneath a locust tree, upon the bank of the stream across which the brigade was charging.
From first to last Colonel Woolworth maintained the character of exalted patriotism. Towards the close of the year 1863, a gentleman of wealth, Mr. Lewis Cooper, desired to form a business partnership with him, and requested the Hon. Charles Gilpin, an uncle of the Colonel, to transmit the proposition to him, then with his regiment on simple guard duty at Alexandria. The answer of Woolworth disclosed the conscientious regard for duty by which he was governed:
“Dear Uncle: – I duly received thine of the 7th, and am truly grateful to our friend for his kind and generous offer. I should feel it my duty to accept it under other circumstances; but as I have voluntarily sworn to serve the United States well and truly for three years, I do not feel at liberty to tender my resignation. I think that the officers are as much bound by their oath as the enlisted men, particularly as many of the latter have enlisted through the example of those higher in position. Officers who resign now are not much thought of by those who remain in the service. The remaining ten months will soon slip around, and then, should I be spared, I hope to be with you again. Tell my friend I am very sorry to decline his proposal, and hope I may have an opportunity of expressing my thanks to him personally,”
A just sense of honor, which would not allow him to lay down his sword while confronting the enemies of his country, carried him to the fatal field of Cloyd Mountain, where his life was sacrificed to the cause of freedom and good government. The body of Colonel Woolworth was subsequently removed to Philadelphia and buried in the Odd Fellows Cemetery, near the city, where a monument was erected to his memory.1
Richard Hobson WOOLWORTH2, Colonel
Born: November 22, 18243
Died: May 9, 1864
Buried: See Military Listing
Richard received a liberal education through business training in the large commercial houses of Philadelphia. He afterwards became clerk and confidential advisor in one of the largest and most reputable firms engaged in the business of stock exchange and brokerage, and maintained that relation until within two years of the breaking out of the Rebellion, when he engaged in the same business for himself. In 1845 he received a commission as Captain of one of the volunteer companies that had been raised as protection against riots occurring in Philadelphia about that time. Under the first call for troops in 1861, a company was raised, which, at the request of the citizen officers, Mr. Woolworth drilled for active service. Then another company was raised in Germantown to be part of the reserve corps. He accepted the Captaincy. The company was mustered into service, and with six other companies at the same time in charge, Captain Woolworth was ordered into Camp Washington. Upon the formation of the third regiment, Captain Woolworth elected Major, and while the cops was at Fredericksburg, before it went to the Peninsula. Major Woolworth ordered to the fourth regiment to serve as Lieutenant Colonel, in which capacity he acted throughout the Peninsular campaign. At the battle of New Market Cross-Roads he was severely wounded and was taken prisoner in the hospital. The day after the battle he was carried to Richmond. After remaining there a short time he was paroled and sent to the hospital on David”s Island, New York. Thirty days after the battle a portion of his coat was taken from his wound. In a few weeks he was able to leave the hospital at New York and was sent to his home in Philadelphia. He then reported for duty. Being still lame, he led his company in Burnside”s campaign at the battle of Fredericksburg and struck by a spent ball in the left groin. A contusion formed which compelled him to remain in a hospital two weeks. Early in 1863, upon the resignation of Colonel [Magilton], he was promoted to the Colonelcy of the fourth regiment, when the third and fifth were sent to the vicinity of Harper’s Ferry. Colonel Woolworth commanded for a time a brigade having charge of the railroad from Martinsburg to Fredericksburg. He marched with General Cook’s expedition though southwestern Virginia, and on the 9th of May, 1864, fell mortally wounded while leading his regiment charging a battery in position at the battle of Cloyd”s Mountain. He died in a few moments and was buried on the field. Colonel Woolworth was asked to for a co-partnership in the stock exchange and brokerage business with a gentleman in Philadelphia, but declined, as he would not quit the service of the United States until his term had expired. He was notable patriot, a gentleman of high character and conscientious officer.”
- Father: Richard Champion Woolworth
- Mother: Abagail Gilpin
- Wife: Ellen Moffett (Married: Nov 23, 1845)
- Child: Thomas Moffett Woolworth
- Child: Zelda Woolworth
- Nellie Woolworth
- Martial Deeds of Pennsylvania by Samuel P. Bates; Philadelphia: T. H. Davis & Co., 1876. Part II, Chapter II, Pages 445-446.
- Information provided by the The Woolworth Family – WOOLWORTH-L@rootsweb.com
- “The Descendants of Richard and Hannah Huggins Woolworth” , compiled by Charlotte R. Woolworth, Assisted by her daughter, Josephine L. Kimpton, New Haven, Conn., 1893, Page 80, 81