James Cooper, a native of Frederick County, Maryland, was born on May 8, 1810. He received his education at St. Mary's College, Emmetsburg, Pennsylvania, and at Washington College (now Washington and Jefferson) in Washington, Pennsylvania, from which he was graduated in 1832. He then studied law in the office of Thaddeus Stevens in Gettysburg. Admitted to the bar in 1834, he was elected to Congress as a Whig in 1838 and served until 1843. In the next five years Cooper was four times a member of the Pennsylvania legislature, serving one term as speaker, and was attorney general of the state in 1848. The following year he was elected to the United States Senate. During his single term as Senator, he was a member of the celebrated "committee of thirteen," which wrote the compromise measures of 1850. In 1861 his Whig principles, outspoken opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, firm adherence to the administration, and the accident of his Maryland birth, impelled Abraham Lincoln to appoint him a brigadier general of volunteers and to authorize him to recruit a "brigade of Loyal Marylanders," with rank from May 17, 1861. During Stonewall Jackson's Valley campaign in the spring of 1862, General Cooper briefly commanded a brigade in Franz Sigel's division of N. P. Banks's army. Early in September he was ordered to take charge of a paroled prisoner-of-war camp near Columbus, Ohio; soon after, he was appointed commandant of Camp Chase (also near Columbus), a Union camp of instruction which was converted into a military prison after the Union capture of Forts Henry and Donelson. Here he died on March 28, 1863. His remains were taken to Frederick, Maryland, for interment in Mount Olivet Cemetery.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.