Philip St. George Cooke

Philip St. George Cooke was born, June 13, 1809, in Leesburg, Virginia. Although he compiled a long and meritorious record in his country's service prior to the Civil War, his principal distinctions thereafter were that his son John Rogers Cooke was one of the outstanding infantry brigadiers of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and his son-in-law was the renowned leader of Confederate cavalry, Jeb Stuart. Cooke's adult life, including his writings in retirement, was concerned with the U. S. Army, which he entered in 1823 as a plebe at West Point. Graduating in 1827, he spent six years at various western stations, served in the Black Hawk War, became first lieutenant of the new 1st Dragoons; went on numerous trips of exploration into the Far West; led the celebrated Mormon battalion from Sante Fe to California during the Mexican War; took part in the Utah expedition of 1857-58; wrote a treatise on cavalry tactics for the army; and was an observer of the Italian War of 1859-60. In 1861, Cooke's family divided over the issue of secession: two daughters and their husbands and one son defected to the Confederacy, Cooke and his other daughter and her husband adhered to the Union. Since 1858 he had been colonel of the 2nd Dragoons, and on November 12, 1861, was commissioned brigadier general in the Regular Army. During the early part of the war he commanded the brigade of regular cavalry in the Washington defenses and had the direction of a division in the Peninsular campaign of 1862. He saw no further field service, but was employed on courts-martial, in district command, and as general superintendent of the recruiting service. Following the war he exercised various departmental commands and served on boards for promotion, retirement, and tactics. Having been brevetted a major general, U. S. Army, in 1865, General Cooke was retired in 1873 after more than fifty years' service. He wrote a number of books of an autobiographical nature dealing mainly with army life on the frontier. He died in Detroit, Michigan, March 20, 1895, and was buried in Elmwood Cemetery.

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Reference:  Generals in Blue.  Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner.  Louisiana State University Press.  Baton Rouge.