William Penn Wood: Wounded and Left to Die
William Penn Wood was born in Asheboro, North Carolina on May 2, 1843. Wood was a son of Penuel and Calista Birkhead Wood. His youth was spent in Randolph County where he attended public schools from 1850 until 1861. As a teenager, he worked as a clerk in a general store. In February 1862, when he was eighteen-years-old, Wood stepped from behind the store’s counter and enlisted in Company I of the 22nd Regiment, North Carolina Infantry. He was mustered in as a private and “was found faithfully discharging his duties and following his leader in all the many battles in which he was engaged.” The young soldier was frequently commended for coolness under fire and was promoted to Sergeant prior to May 23, 1864.
In the Second Battle of Manassas, Wood was wounded and left to die in the woods for a long time before someone came to his aid. It took him two weeks to get to a hospital, and it was six months before he was able to rejoin his regiment. Wood carried the bullet that wounded him until his death many years later.
After rejoining his regiment, Wood was with the Army of Northern Virginia at the Battle of Chancellorsvllle, and was not far from General Stonewall Jackson when Jackson was shot down. On May 23, 1864, Wood was captured at or near Jericho Mills, Virginia, and spent the last months of the war in a Federal prison at Point Lookout, Maryland. Wood was paroled and transferred to Boulware’s Wharf, James River, Virginia where, on March 16, 1865, he was received in exchange for a captive Union soldier.
At the close of the war, Wood returned to his old home at Asheboro and took up work as clerk in a general store. On September 4, 1872, he married Miss Etta Gunter. The couple had three children: Blanche Penn Wood, John Kerr Wood, and Mabel Emma Wood. In 1873, he established a general merchandise store of his own. Also, Wood was a director in one of North Carolina’s railway lines and actively operated a farm near Asheboro. Furthermore, he served as major on the general staff of the Confederate Veterans’ Association and was vice president of the North Carolina Soldiers’ Home of Raleigh.
For several years, Wood served as city treasurer and alderman of Asheboro, being treasurer of the town from 1880 to 1888 and treasurer of Randolph County from 1890 until 1894. He represented Randolph and Moore Counties in the State Senate in 1901 and was a member of the Legislatures of 1905 and 1907 from Randolph County. In October 1910, Wood was nominated by the Democratic State Executive Committee to fill the vacancy on the ticket as state auditor. At the general election in the following November, he was elected and filled the office consecutively until 1920. Wood was described as one who had the courage to voice his convictions; he was a strong-hearted, patriotic man.
William Penuel Wood died in 1924. Funeral services were held at the Methodist Episcopal Church in Asheboro. Many people from all parts of the state attended the funeral. He was buried at Asheboro City Cemetery on Salisbury Street.
Sources: The Courier newspaper article dated Thursday, April 10, 1924 and the Wood family file in the Randolph Room.