Major General Roscoe Barnett Woodruff (February 9, 1891 – July 24, 1975) was a career United States Army officer who fought in both World War I and World War II and served for 38 years. During World War II he commanded divisions and corps in Europe and the Pacific.

Roscoe Barnett Woodruff
Nickname(s)"Woody", "Spike"
Born(1891-02-09)February 9, 1891
Oskaloosa, Iowa, United States
DiedJuly 24, 1975(1975-07-24) (aged 84)
San Antonio, Texas, United States
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1915–1953
RankMajor General
Service numberO-3819
UnitInfantry Branch
Commands held

A 1915 graduate of United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, New York, he was part of "the class the stars fell on"; Dwight D. Eisenhower and Omar Bradley were classmates. During World War I he served on the Mexican border and the Western Front with the 2nd Division. After the war he served in the Panama Canal Zone and attended the United States Army Command and General Staff College and the United States Army War College.

During World War II, he commanded the 77th Infantry Division in the United States and the VII Corps and XIX Corps in England. He then went to the Southwest Pacific Area, where he commanded the 24th Infantry Division in the Battle of Mindoro and the Battle of Mindanao. After the fighting ended, he commanded the I Corps in the Allied occupation of Japan and the First Army and XV Corps in the United States.

Early life edit

At West Point in 1915

Roscoe Barnett Woodruff was born on February 9, 1891, in Oskaloosa, Iowa, the son of Calvin Woodruff, an army officer. and his wife Rhoda née Barnett. After attending public schools and the Iowa State University,[1] he entered the United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point, New York, on June 14, 1911.[2] He set a new record for the hammer throw, and, as part of the 1913 Army Cadets football team, he kicked the winning field goal in the Colgate-Army football game of 1913, earning an "A" in both football and the hammer throw.[1] He was the First Captain of the Corps of Cadets.[3]

Woodruff graduated from the USMA on June 12, 1915, as part of the West Point class of 1915,[2] often referred to as "the class the stars fell on", ranked 56th in his class. Of the 164 graduates that year, 59 (36%) attained the rank of general, more than any other class in the history of the academy.[4] The classmates he graduated with included Dwight D. Eisenhower, Omar Bradley, James Van Fleet. and Joseph T. McNarney.[5] Woodruff was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Infantry Branch of the United States Army.[6]

World War I edit

After graduation, Woodruff served at Laredo, Texas, on the Mexican border with the 9th Infantry.[6] At the time troops were stationed on the border due to the threat from Pancho Villa.[1] Woodruff was promoted to first lieutenant on July 1, 1916.[6] While serving on the Mexican Border, Woodruff met Alice Wallace Gray, the daughter of Colonel Alonzo Gray, an 1887 West Point graduate and an officer with the 14th Cavalry. They were married at Fort McIntosh, Texas, on May 17, 1917. They had two children: Roscoe B. Woodruff Jr., who graduated from the USMA with the class of 1941, and Dorothy Woodruff Daniels.[1]

After the American entry into World War I, he was promoted to captain on May 15, 1917. He was transferred to the newly-formed 48th Infantry on July 1 but returned to the 9th Infantry on August 1.[6] He was became a company commander in command of Company H, 2nd Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, which was part of the 2nd Division.[1] Woodruff was one of the first of his West Point classmates to see action in World War I, when the 2nd Division, embarked for the Western Front on September 17, 1917, as one of the first units of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF).[1]

Woodruff was a student officer at the Army General Staff College at Langres, France, from November 28, 1917, to February 14, 1918, and then was seconded to the British 8th Division in the Ypres sector. After briefly serving as an instructor with the 32nd Division, he returned to the United States in May 1918.[6]

Woodruff was assigned to United States Army War College in Washington, D.C., with the temporary rank of major from June 17, 1918. On July 5, 1918, he was assigned to the Military Intelligence Division of the War Department General Staff.[6]

Between the wars edit

During the interwar period Woodruff remained in the army. On June 5, 1919, he became a military intelligence officer in the Southern Department, based at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He was the Assistant to Chief of Staff, Military Intelligence, at the Southern Department from January 21 to May 8, 1920, and then the Executive Officer in the office of Assistant Chief of Staff for Military Intelligence in the Southern Department until February 17, 1921. He reverted to his substantive rank of captain on May 20, 1920, but was promoted to the substantive rank of major on July 1, 1921.[6][7]

On February 17, 1921, Woodruff proceeded overseas again, this time to the Panama Canal Zone, where he was the executive Officer of the Panama General Area Depot until June 16, 1921. He commanding a battalion of the 33rd Infantry until August 29, 1921, when he became the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2, of the Panama Canal Department. He reverted to the rank of captain on November 4, 1922. He was Assistant to Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, Panama Canal Department, from March 29, 1923, until March 3, 1924, before returning to the United States on April 9, 1924.[7]

Woodruff commanded a rifle company of the 28th Infantry at Fort Ontario, New York, with the rank of major again from August 1, 1924. He then became the regiment's Machine Gun and Howitzer Officer. He attended the United States Army Command and General Staff College from August 20, 1926, to June 17, 1927, graduating as an honor graduate.[7] He then served as an instructor there until August 17, 1931, when he left to attend the United States Army War College. On July 6, 1932, he returned to the USMA as an instructor in tactics.[8] Although normally nicknamed "Woody", the cadets nicknamed him "Spike", as one of his duties was censoring the Pointer, the post newspaper.[1] He was promoted to lieutenant colonel on July 1, 1936. On August 16, 1936, he was detailed to the War Department General Staff again, this time in the operations and tactics section.[8]

World War II edit

In July 1940, Woodruff assumed command of the 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry, the same outfit he had served with in World War I. After being promoted to the temporary rank of colonel on June 26, 1941, he then commanded the regiment, then stationed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. On January 15 1942, he was promoted to brigadier general.[9]

Woodruff then became the assistant division commander (ADC) of the 77th Infantry Division, a unit of the Organized Reserves, which was reactivated on March 25, 1942, and composed almost entirely of conscripts (or "draftees").[10] On June 22, 1942, he was promoted major general,[9] shortly after he took over command of the division on June 5,[10] during its pre-deployment training in Fort Jackson, South Carolina.[11] He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.[9]

On May 22, 1943, Woodruff relinquished command of the 77th Division to Major General Andrew D. Bruce and took command of the VII Corps, then stationed in England. His former classmate Dwight Eisenhower, now a four-star general and the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe. Another classmate, Lieutenant General Omar Bradley, was designated to command the First Army for the upcoming Allied invasion of Normandy, with Woodruff as one of corps commanders, along with Major General Leonard T. Gerow, commanding the V Corps, and Major General Willis D. Crittenberger, commanding the XIX Corps.[12]

All were well known to Eisenhower and Bradley, but they were concerned about having three corps commanders who all lacked experience in amphibious operations or combat command in World War II.[13] Gerow, who was close to Eisenhower and a protégé of General George C. Marshall Jr., the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, was retained, but Crittenberger and Woodruff were relieved and replaced by two experienced division commanders, Major Generals Charles H. Corlett and J. Lawton Collins respectively.[14]

Woodruff was shuffled off to command of XIX Corps, Crittenberger's former command, for several weeks, before returning to the United States, and he handed over command to Corlett.[15] He was awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal.[9] Upon his return to the United States, Woodruff assumed command the 84th Infantry Division, then in training at Camp Claiborne, Louisiana, from March to June 1944.[16][9]

Woodruff's chance at large-scale combat command finally came when he was sent to the Southwest Pacific Area to command Army Garrison Force 248 on Leyte. In November, the commander of the Sixth Army, Lieutenant General Walter Krueger abruptly gave him command of the 24th Infantry Division.[1][15] His welcoming reception in the theater was celebrated at the paratroop headquarters, fueled with five gallons of torpedo alcohol, furnished by United States Navy patrol boat sailors, as the key ingredient for liquid refreshments.[17]

Ironically, Woodruff proved adept at amphibious operations, making a series of twenty-five landings on Mindoro in January and February 1945.[17] He led his command in the five month Battle of Mindanao to liberate that island from Japanese occupation. During the campaign he broke several ribs when he fell into a Japanese spider hole. Although in great pain and unable to sleep for two weeks, he concealed the injury for fear of being declared unfit and sent home again.[18] He was awarded an oak leaf cluster to his Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star with two oak leaf clusters, the Purple Heart and the Air Medalwith an oak leaf cluster.[9]

Postwar edit

In November 1945, after World War II had come to an end due to the surrender of both the Germans and the Japanese, Woodruff commanded the I Corps, part of the Eighth United States Army, during the Allied occupation of Japan from April 3, 1946, to February 1, 1948.[19][20] For this service he was awarded the Commendation Ribbon.[9]

From February 1948 to March 1951, Woodruff was deputy commanding general of the First Army at Fort Jay, Governors Island, New York. He assumed the role of commanding general from February 1 to March 28, 1949, upon the retirement of General Courtney Hodges, who had commanded the First Army during World War II, [20][21] and again from October 1 to October 31, 1950,[21] after General Walter Bedell Smith was appointed the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).[22]

In 1951, Woodruff took command of XV Corps at Camp Polk (now Fort Polk), Louisiana.[23] He retired from the army, as a major general, on January 31, 1953 after 41 years of active duty.[24][25]

Later life edit

Woodruff and his wife, Alice Gray Woodruff retired to San Antonio, Texas. He died on July 24, 1975, aged 84. He was buried in the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.[1]

Dates of rank edit

Insignia Rank Component Date Reference
No insignia at the time Second Lieutenant Infantry June 12, 1915 [6]
First Lieutenant Infantry July 1, 1916 [6]
Captain Infantry May 15, 1917 [6]
Major (temporary) Infantry June 17, 1918 [6]
Captain (reverted) Infantry May 20, 1920 [7]
Major Infantry July 1, 1920 [7]
Captain (reverted) Infantry November 4, 1922 [7]
Major Infantry August 1, 1924 [7]
Lieutenant Colonel Infantry July 1, 1936 [8]
Colonel Army of the United States June 26, 1941 [9]
Brigadier General Army of the United States January 15, 1942 [9]
Major General Army of the United States June 22, 1942 [9]

Notes edit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "West Point Association of Graduates". West Point Association of Graduates. Retrieved December 26, 2023.
  2. ^ a b Cullum 1930, p. 1049.
  3. ^ "West Point First Captains". West Point Association of Graduates. Retrieved January 13, 2024.
  4. ^ "West Point Fact Sheet". United States Military Academy. Archived from the original on March 20, 2012. Retrieved December 19, 2010.
  5. ^ Haskew 2014, p. 12.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Cullum 1920, p. 1751.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Cullum 1930, p. 1074.
  8. ^ a b c Cullum 1940, p. 293.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Cullum 1950, p. 195.
  10. ^ a b United States Army 1947, pp. 7–9.
  11. ^ United States Army 1947, pp. 17–23.
  12. ^ D'Este 2002, pp. 486–487.
  13. ^ Bradley 1951, p. 227.
  14. ^ Taaffe 2013, pp. 168–169.
  15. ^ a b Taaffe 2013, pp. 176–177.
  16. ^ "World War II Divisional Combat Chronicles". United States Army. Retrieved January 14, 2024.
  17. ^ a b Morison 1959, pp. 49–50.
  18. ^ Taaffe 2013, p. 234.
  19. ^ "I Corps - A Brief History - 1862-1953". U.S. Army, G-3 Historical Section, I Corps. Retrieved January 13, 2024.
  20. ^ a b "New Deputy Commander Joins the First Army". New York Times. March 9, 1948. p. 5. Retrieved January 13, 2024.
  21. ^ a b Young 1959, p. 78.
  22. ^ Montague 1992, pp. 7, 62.
  23. ^ "First Army Deputy Named to Command XV Corps". New York Times. February 20, 1951. p. 14. Retrieved January 13, 2024.
  24. ^ "15th Corps Chief Retires After 41 Years' Service". New York Times. February 1, 1953. p. 32. Retrieved January 13, 2024.
  25. ^ Young 1959, p. 337.

References edit

External links edit

Military offices
Preceded by Commanding General 77th Infantry Division
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commanding General VII Corps
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commanding General XIX Corps
January – March 1944
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commanding General 84th Infantry Division
March – June 1944
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commanding General 24th Infantry Division
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commanding General I Corps
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commanding General First Army
February – March 1949
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Walter Bedell Smith
Commanding General First Army
September – November 1950
Succeeded by