The Civil War sword of Fambing Woo, in the coffin of Wilfred Woodruff IV.

Fambing Woo's Civil War sword was used by the Chinese railroad-worker-turned-soldier during the Civil War. He obtained it from a fallen soldier named Woodruff, whose name and identity he also assumed (with his jacket) while fleeing from slavery in the summer of 1863.

The sword was used by Fambing in several battles, including one against General Ulysses S. Grant. It was later passed down to Fambing's descendants and eventually found its way into the hands of his great-great-great-great grandson, Wilfred Woodruff VI, who used it in a sword fight against Ned.


Civil War and family inheritance

When Fambing Woo accidentally joined the Confederate Army to avoid arrest, he used the sword in the Second Battle of Murfreesboro and the Battle of Missionary Ridge. He was decorated for his service in those battles and kept the sword after the war ended. The sword was passed from generation to generation until it was to be buried with his great-great grandson, Wilfred Woodruff IV.[1]

Theft of the sword

While the funeral was being arranged at the Schatz Brothers Funeral Home, funeral director Lawrence Schatz stole the sword from the coffin of Woodruff IV. Lawrence and his twin brother, Louis Schatz, frequently stole jewelry and valuables from the corpses, a fact which eventually became public and made them the subject of a police investigation.[1]


The on-line auction listing for Fambing Woo's stolen Civil War sword.

Wilfred Woodruff VI, the deceased Woodruff's grandson and the great-great-great-great grandson of Fambing Woo, discovered the sword being sold in an on-line auction for $1,200 (plus $29.95 shipping and handling). The retail price was listed as $1,550, but auction #C-1623 offered a sale of three "easy payments" of $400. Woodruff VI traced the auction back to the Schatz brothers and, in a moment of passion, wrote a threatening letter to Lawrence that said, "looking forward to killing you soon." In investigating the letters later, Charlotte "Chuck" Charles found the letter "particularly angry," even among the 1,866 other letters.[1]

Attempted recovery by Wilfred Woodruff VI

When Wilfred got no response, he went to the funeral home himself to confront Lawrence, but found him dead in his bathroom. A few days later, Wilfred broke into the funeral home after hours to confront Lawrence's twin brother, Louis. Surprised by the intrusion, Louis accidentally choked to death on the cow tongue steak he was eating. Wilfred realized from his threatening letter and presence at both deaths that he could be held accountable by the authorities, so he attempted to frame Ned, who he believed had actually killed Lawrence.[1]


Wilfred Woodruff VI threatening Ned with Fambing's sword.

Wilfred later broke into the funeral home and found the sword in the basement, where he was confronted by Ned. Wilfred, who was named alternate sword-master at the Southern Area Regional Volunteer Infantry Reenactment regiment on three separate occasions, used the weapon in a sword fight against Ned, but Ned put up a surprisingly good fight and defeated Wilfred. Wilfred was later arrested and charged in connection with the deaths of the Schatz brothers. What happened to the sword afterward is unclear.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 The Fun in Funeral

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