He Fell a Cheerful Sacrifice to His Country's Glorious Cause: General William Woodford of Virginia, Revolutionary War Patriot


When one thinks of the American heroes of the Revolutionary War, the names Washington, Greene, Lee, Morgan, and even Arnold come to mind. Much has been written of these American patriots, and rightly so, but the attention these officers have long received has also obscured the contributions of many, many other patriots of the Revolutionary War. One such person is General William Woodford of Virginia, a man chosen by Virginia’s leaders to command a regiment of Virginia regulars at the onset of war and who remained in service for over five years.

William Woodford began his service in 1775 as colonel of the 2nd Virginia Regiment during which he and his men handily defeated Lord Dunmore’s force of British regulars and runaway slaves at Great Bridge. Woodford was promoted to brigadier-general in 1777 and commanded Virginia troops at Brandywine (where he was wounded in the hand), Valley Forge, and Monmouth. On each of these occasions, along with countless smaller engagements, General Woodford and his men contributed significantly to the American cause. Their service came at great sacrifice, and as the war dragged on, Woodford’s health declined. He remained in service, however, and when General Washington ordered the entire Virginia continental line to march to Charleston, South Carolina, to assist in the defense of that important town, Woodford led the troops. They arrived in April 1780, just in time to become trapped with the rest of the American garrison. A month of fruitless resistance against a far superior enemy force ended with the surrender of the entire American garrison. Five years of service culminated with captivity, first in South Carolina, during which Woodford’s health declined precipitously, and then in New York, where he was sent in a desperate attempt to recover his health. Alas, it was not to be, and General Woodford joined the ranks of thousands of other patriots who paid the ultimate sacrifice for American independence. This book highlights William Woodford’s service and sacrifice.

An index to full-names, places and subjects; maps; and a bibliography add to the value of this work.

Michael Cecere

2019, 5½x8½, paper, index, 274 pp

ISBN: 9780788458736