Brigadier-General John R. Cooke

Contributed by: Diane Siniard

Brigadier-General John R. Cooke

Brigadier-General John R. Cooke was born at Jefferson barracks, Mo., in 1833, 
the son of Philip St. George Cooke, then first lieutenant First dragoons, U.S.A. 
It is an interesting fact that while the son and his sister's husband, J. E. B. Stuart, 
fought for Virginia in the war of the Confederacy, the father, a native of Frederick 
County, Va., remained in the United States army, and attained the rank of 
major-general, finally being retired after fifty years' service. Young Cooke was 
educated at Harvard college as a civil engineer, but in 1855 was commissioned 
second lieutenant, Eighth infantry, after which he served in Texas, New Mexico 
and Arizona. When Virginia seceded he promptly resigned his commission, 
reported to General Holmes at Fredericksburg as first lieutenant, and after the 
battle of Manassas raised a company of light artillery, which did splendid service 
along the Potomac. In February, 1862, he was promoted major, and assigned as 
chief of artillery to the department of North Carolina. In April, at the reorganization, 
he was elected colonel of the Twenty-seventh North Carolina regiment. On being 
ordered to Virginia his regiment was attached to A. P. Hill's division, and was first 
in the battle of Seven Pines. After the battle of Sharpsburg, in which he won the 
admiration of the whole army, he was promoted to brigadier-general, and put in 
command of a brigade of North Carolinians, the Fifteenth, Twenty-seventh, 
Forty-sixth, Forty-eighth and Fifty-ninth regiments. At Fredericksburg he 
supported General Cobb, holding the famous stone wall, and all through the war, 
until its close, he and his brigade were in the thickest of the fray. He was wounded 
seven times, at Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Bristoe Station, and in the Wilderness 
campaign. No officer bore a more enviable reputation than General Cooke for prompt 
obedience to orders, skill in handling his men, splendid dash in the charge, or heroic, 
patient, stubborn courage in the defense. After the close of hostilities General Cooke 
entered mercantile life at Richmond, and during his subsequent life was prominent 
in the affairs of the city and State. He served several years as a member of the city 
committee of the Democratic party, was a director of the chamber of commerce, and 
president of the board of directors of the State penitentiary. During the years of peace 
and reconciliation, the estrangement in his family which had followed his espousal of 
the Southern cause, was fully healed; but he remained loyal to his old comrades. He 
was prominent as a founder and manager of the Soldiers' Home at Richmond, was 
one of the first commanders of the Lee camp, Confederate veterans, and acted as 
chief of staff at the laying of the cornerstone of the Lee monument, and at its unveiling. 
He married Nannie G. Patton, of Fredericksburg, daughter of Dr. William F. Patton, 
surgeon U.S. N., and they had eight children. General Cooke's death occurred April 
10, 1891. 

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