Monday, February 6, 2017

Captain Edwin Webster Woodward (1839-1920): Civil War Vet Chased off City Council floor

Captain Edwin W. Woodward
Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Plot

Captain Edwin Webster Woodward was a Civil War veteran and elected official in Oakland, San Francisco and Napa.

Woodward was born in Tunbridge, Vermont on January 4, 1839 and migrated to Weaverville, California in 1859, He worked in mining and merchandising until the Civil war broke out in 1861, when he joined the 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry (also known as "The California 100." Also known as the CAL 100, the regiment was led by Captain J. Sewell Reed and was the first company from California to report for active duty in the field. The soldiers were assigned to the Second Massachusetts Cavalry and engaged in many hard-fought battles, including those of the battle of Winchester, Berryville, Pike, Charlestown, Opequan Creek, Front Royal, Snake Mountain, Waynesboro, Cedar Creek, Gordonsville, South Ana, Southside Railroad and Appomattox Courthouse, and participated in the same engagements in the Shenandoah Valley (where future President William McKinley also fought).

G.A.R. Memorial at Mountain View Cemetery
Woodward remained in active service until the end of the war and the surrender of the Confederate armies at Appomattox. For gallant service he was promoted lieutenant, captain and major. He remained active in Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) posts his entire life and was involved in erecting the monument in honor of G.A.R. soldiers at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, which was unveiled on Memorial day, May 30, 1893.

After the war he returned to California and worked in the real estate and auction business in Oakland, becoming senior partner of the firm of Woodward & Taggart, who handled large lines of property in the Bay Area. He also established a real estate business in St. Helena, was active in the creation of the wine industry in Napa County and helped organize the Bank of St. Helena.

He also partnered with James Gamble in the firm Woodward & Gamble, which built the western connection of telegraph lines which stretched across the continent. Their telegraph lines connected San Francisco to Salt Lake City.

In 1898 he was appointed by Oakland Mayor W. R. Thomas to replace Aaron Fibush, who had resigned. His honeymoon on the City Council was short-lived, as after just ten days he was shouted down by fellow council members and chased from the chambers by an angry crowd after he voted to raise water rates. He was taken to the city prison where he found safe refuge until the angry mob receded.

Apparently unfazed by his prior experience in public office, he accepted an appointment as San Francisco's Notary Public by Governor Henry Gage in 1901. By all accounts, his service in that office went smoothly. He was eventually appointed by subsequent governors as Notary Public for Alameda County and Napa County.

Woodward was married to the former Addie O. Rogers, daughter of the late Henry Rogers, former proprietor of the Boston Journal.

Sources: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II, Find a Grave,, OaklandWiki, SF Chronicle, Oakland Tribune

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