Joseph Alexander Cooper
Picture on right was taken in 1906.
Joseph Alexander Cooper was born November 25, 1823, on a farm near Cumberland Falls in Whitley County, Kentucky, but was taken by his parents to the adjoining Tennessee county of Campbell. In the fall of 1847 Cooper served briefly in the Mexican War as a member of the 4th Tennessee Infantry. He returned to Campbell County to engage in farming near Jacksboro. Like many East Tennesseans, Cooper was an anti-secession Whig; he was elected a delegate to the 1861 Union convention at Knoxville. After some months spent in recruiting men from his county, he was mustered into service at Whitesburg, Kentucky, as a captain of the 1st Tennessee (Union) Infantry. He fought at Wild Cat Mountain and Fishing Creek (Mill Springs) under General George H. Thomas and in March, 1862, was made colonel of the 6th Tennessee. This regiment was in George W. Morgan's command at Cumberland Gap and retreated with it to the Ohio. After being refitted, Cooper and his men saw hard service at Murfreesboro defending ordnance trains; Cooper fought also at Chick-amauga and in the Chattanooga campaign. In the course of the Atlanta campaign Cooper was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers to rank from July 30, 1864; in this capacity he commanded a brigade of the 2nd Division of the XXIII Corps from June 4 until he was temporarily advanced to divisional command after the battle of Jonesboro. He was again in command of his brigade—and intermittently commanded the 2nd Division —at Franklin and Nashville and in the closing operations of the war in North Carolina under General John M. Schofield. Brevetted major general for gallant and meritorious services at Nashville, Cooper was mustered out in 1866. In 1868 he was an unsuccessful candidate for U. S. Senator from Tennessee. The following year President U. S. Grant rewarded him with the sinecure of collector of internal revenue for the Knoxville District, an office he held for ten years. In 1880, he moved to Stafford County, Kansas, where he again engaged in farming. For more than thirty-five years a deacon of the Baptist Church, General Cooper was a longtime moderator of the South Central Baptist Association of Kansas. He died in Stafford on May 20, 1910. He was buried in the National Cemetery at Knoxville, Tennessee.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.