Born in 1855, Woods spent the first 10 years of his life as a slave on a farm near Somerset. He joined the U.S. Army at age 23 in 1873. He was assigned to the Company B, 9th United States Calvary Regiment — one of the African-American "Buffalo Soldier" units that fought in the west during the Indian campaigns.
Sgt. Woods earned his Medal of Honor in New Mexico on Aug. 19, 1881. His detachment of soldiers was ambushed by a band of Apache Indians in the Gavalin Canyon, and the detachment's lieutenant in command was killed. Woods took command, rallied the soldiers, and charged the Indians.
Woods received his Medal of Honor on July 21, 1894. He is the only person from Pulaski County to receive this honor, and only the second African American from Kentucky to be honored.
Woods retired from the Army in 1902, and returned to Pulaski County. After his death in 1906, he was buried in an isolated grave and largely forgotten. Due to the efforts of Loraine Smith, a friend of Woods' widow, his remains were reburied with full military honors in the Mill Springs National Cemetery in 1984. His grave number is 930, and can be seen next to the flagpole in Section A.
On Feb. 16, 2008, the Mill Springs Battlefield Association honored Woods with a ceremony unveiling a Medal of Honor in his name. The Visitor Center and Museum received the medal for display purposes from the U.S. Department of Army.