John Threlkeld Cox

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John Threlkeld Cox, colonel of the 1st Confederate Cavalry, was born of distinguished ancestry in Washington, D.C., on December 2, 1820. His father, Colonel John Cox, was a wealthy merchant and longtime mayor of Georgetown; his mother, Hannah Threlkeld, was descended from several of the first families of Maryland. The younger Cox moved to Bowling Green, Kentucky, soon after his 1841 marriage to the daughter of Kentucky's U.S. Senator Joseph Underwood. Cox embarked upon a career as a civil engineer. By 1860 he had become chief engineer of a railroad and a prominent Bowling Green resident.

Cox's first Confederate service was as an engineer officer in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1861. He was captain of engineers by 1862, and in December of that year Cox transferred to field service. He was appointed colonel of the 1st Confederate Cavalry on December 17, 1862, and was formally commissioned at that rank on June 6, 1863. The 1st (later known as the 12th) Confederate Cavalry had been formed from King's 1st Kentucky Cavalry Battalion and six unattached companies from Tennessee and Alabama. At the battle of Stone's River (December 31,1862, to January 2, 1863) Cox led the 1st in raids on the Union rear. During one charge he and his men captured the 75th Illinois Infantry en masse—the high point of his military career. Throughout 1863 and 1864 the 1st (12th) fought in the Army of Tennessee's cavalry corps. Several times in 1863 Cox exercised temporary command of Brigadier General John Wharton's cavalry brigade. However, Cox was often absent from his regiment, missing, among other engagements, the whole Atlanta campaign of 1864- Cox's abilities appear to have left something to be desired (General John Wharton, his brigade commander, once requested that Cox be relieved of command), but that did not stop him from pressing for higher rank. In 1864 Cox applied for promotion to brigadier general to command a brigade of Kentucky cavalry in Brigadier General John H. Morgan's division, promising, if promoted, to stop the Union army's advance on Atlanta with that one brigade of cavalry! By 1865 the 12th had been transferred to the cavalry corps of Lieutenant General Nathan B. Forrest. Cox and his regiment surrendered in Gainesville, Alabama, on May 11, 1865.

After the war the once-wealthy Cox returned to Bowling Green, his fortune lost. Relocating after 1870 to Washington, D.C., he found a job as a detective in the capitol police force. The "affable, courteous and popular" Cox won respect for his "faithful, energetic and efficient" services. In June, 1886, he became ill with pneumonia and traveled south to Fortress Monroe to regain his health. He died on July 17,1886, at Old Point Comfort and is buried at Rock Creek Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

Cox is called colonel and "acting brigadier general" in SHSP, presumably for leading a cavalry brigade for some time. Cox's obituary calls him "brevet brigadier general." His service records have him a colonel as late as September, 1864, and on his 1865 parole Cox gives his rank as colonel.

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Reference:  More Generals in Gray.  Bruce S. Allardice.  A companion volume to Generals in Gray.  Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge. LA.