1855 Birth of the 1st & 2nd U.S. Cavalry

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1855 Nov 14 Marriage of Flora Cooke (age 19) and Jeb Stuart (age 22) at Fort Riley Kansas most likely and the commander's (Cooke) home. Flora wore her white school graduation dress and the Rev D. Clarkson officiated at the simple ceremony. There were only four attendants, two men and two women, possibly her sisters.

1856 February 11 Philip St. George Cooke wrote to John Esten Cooke approving of his son-in-law saying, "Flora was married, rather suddenly, to Mr. Stuart of Va., Nov 14th, and they left the 2d day for Virginia. I rec'd yesterday letters from them. Circumstances prevented them making a stop at Richmond, where Mr. S. has relatives, or relations, as well as Flora. And they should be back by this time at Fort L., if the extraordinary snows and weather has not prevented them. He is a remarkably fine, promising, pure young man; and has had so far extraordinary promotion he is a First Lieutenant, 1st Cavalry".

"John Rogers, when last heard from was en route to, and near his post, Fort Bliss, Texas, but opposite El Passo; and in the Military Department of New Mexico."

Maria, grown to be taller and longer than any of the family, she and Julia are at the Convent of Visitation in St. Louis. Maria will probably quit with summer."

"This has been an unheard of cold winter; and our last meal, rec'd last night, was 13 days coming 125 miles from Fort Leavenworth. We are all quite well. This is a new post 500 men; eight pleasant families." ..."I don't know what may turn up [in] the coming season; the Sioux War will probably not be renewed."
(Letter from Duke collection)

When Flora and Jeb arrived back at Fort Leavenworth after their honeymoon, Jeb and the rest of the regiment trained for their new duties and Flora began housekeeping on the raw post. As she had lived in military quarters for years and was familiar with protocol, this situation would not have been as daunting as it would have been for her mother who was used to the refinements of the East. During this time the couple spent several years at Fort Leavenworth.

"Always, in places where the families could live, the army ladies kept up the social round, and you found the finest manners in the land, and some of the finest people, in two-room log cabins, with the skins of animals spread and hung around, not for ornament, but to keep out the weather. But you cannot pity these people in the isolation and wide emptiness of the new West. They carried their resources for entertainment within themselves. You read, in their letters, of debating societies, of temperance societies, of amateur theatricals, and of a great deal of singing and good fun. Where the Stuarts were, there was always plenty of both music and laughter. Flora Cooke had a deft touch on the guitar, and sung the sentimental ballads of the time most pleasingly, and the Lieutenant owned a ringing baritone and loved to use it." p. 31 Jeb Stuart by John Thomason

1856 Jacob Sharpe, who attended West Point, graduated from Dartmouth College.

1857 May 18 Expedition by special order No.109. Dr. Charles Brewer was detailed on a large expedition organized against the Cheyennes and Kiowas, the boldest warriors of the plains. On July 29th, Colonel Summer with six companies of the First Cavalry attacked and routed about 300 Cheyennes on the north fork of Solomon's River. On August 4, thirty Cheyennes attacked the fort, and although the guards drove them off, Jeb Stuart, who was also on this expedition, was wounded in the breast, the missile lodging near his left nipple, but so far in it could not be felt. [!] He was under the treatment of his friend and future brother-in-law, Dr. Charles Brewer who was at that time the Regimental Surgeon of the First Regimental Cavalry on the staff of Colonel E.V. Summer. At the end of that week, Jeb and some of the men made the long trip to Fort Kearny Nebraska Territory, on horseback. They were led by several Pawnee Indians, but on the second morning they found that their guides had deserted them. Despite being lost, Jeb guided them back by the stars and other navigational skills. On the August 17th, Jeb returned to Fort Leavenworth and Flora. While he recuperated, he worked on his design for a saber belt attachment.

Dr. Brewer took part in the decisive engagement on August 29th at Solomon's Fork of the Republican River, which, according to The 1896 Biographical Review for Cumberland County, New Jersey, resulted in such disaster to the Indians as to insure a long respite from their depredations and massacres. After a long march of at least two thousand miles, much of which was conducted with pack mule transportation, and some weeks of it on a commissariat of sun-jerked beef without the luxuries of bread, coffee, cognac, or additional condiments, he returned to winter barracks at Fort Leavenworth."

1856-57 - The Kansas Campaign, or "Bleeding" Kansas. Violent clashes occurred between antislavery and pro-slavery factions over the question as to whether Kansas would be a free state or not. 200 people died in the process, and it has been referred to by some as the first battle of the Civil War. Certainly it was an ominous foreshadowing of things to come. Philip St. George Cooke acted as a field commander of the 2nd U.S. Calvary in keeping the peace during the Border-Ruffian war. The army, in its role as impartial peace-keeper, represented a force that neither side was willing to take on. During this mission Cooke won not only official commendation, but also general civilian approval "...performing his duties with great delicacy and ability, and to the satisfaction of the government and of the country".1896 Biographical Review for Cumberland County, NJ.

Jeb Stuart was engaged in restraining John Brown a.k.a. "Osawatomie Brown" and in quelling the Kansas disturbances. Dr. Charles Brewer performed active duty in the hospital and field for one month during the spring campaign in 1858 as part of the regiment of Second Dragoons, Company A, of the Second Artillery. Kansas was admitted into the Union as a free state in 1861.

1857 Scenes and Adventures in the Army by Philip St. George Cooke was published in Philadelphia by Lindsay & Blakiston. On one of my trips to America I found a biography of Philip St. George Cooke
Dictionary of American Biography II - Brearly to Cushing. which mentioned Scenes and Adventures in the Army and that "It is his autobiography from the time of his first commission until 1845, interspersed with curious reflections frequently thrown into the form of dialogue, on subjects of every conceivable nature". Naturally I was eager to read this book in order to get insights into his character, but when I read it, it seemed strange and uncharacteristic of a military man both in style and the amount of time it would take to write something like this on a march. Years later I discovered that there is a possibility that the whole thing could have been heavily doctored by Herman Melville, and in comparing it with some of Cooke's other journals, I believe that this could be true. Dr. Scott Norsworthy, the literary scholar who came up with this theory, wrote (Feb 26th 2002) that "It was fairly common for frontier travelers to drop off manuscripts with publishers who would then find editors to arrange them." He gives more information on this possible connection on his website : http://melvilliana.com

1857 Sept 15 Birth of Flora Stuart, Jeb and Flora's first child at Fort Leavenworth where he was stationed until 1860.

1857 - 58 "The Utah War" Under the impression that the Latter Day Saints were planning to set Utah up as a territory independent of the established states, President James Buchanan was persuaded to send an army of over 3,000 men out to investigate the situation. The Mormons, thinking they were going to be invaded, formed an army of their own and made provisions as to what to do should this event occur. It was during this time, when the Mormons believed that a state of war existed between the two nations, that the Mountain Meadows Massacre took place.

Sept 11, 1857 The Mountain Meadows Massacre involved the slaughter of a wagon train of settlers traveling west who were unaware that they were headed into a potential war zone. About 120 adults and children were killed, but seventeen children, who were assumed to be too young to remember the event, were relocated to Mormon families. (One boy went to the Indians.) I found the details of this episode in history very interesting, especially as my great grandfather, Dr. Charles Brewer, was involved in the investigation, recovery and relocation of the children. The Biographical Review of Cumberland County New Jersey 1896 covering Dr. Charles Brewer's life, states that "Sixteen of these, varying in age from three to nine years, were recovered and returned to relatives or friends, when discoverable, or otherwise cared for."
I found these sites very helpful:
http://www.antimormon.8m.com/tbstenhouseindex.html and

1857-1858 The Army's Utah Expedition This expedition was under the command of Sidney A. Johnston. Philip St. George Cooke, now 48 years old, led the United States Cavalry and commanded a major portion of this winter expedition as he made yet another hazardous and difficult major transcontinental march. According to A Concise History of the Mormon Battalion in the Mexican War 1846-1847 by Sergeant Daniel Tyler, "When the army passed through Salt lake City on the 26th of June [1858] Colonel Cooke, out of deference to the brave men who had served under him in the Mormon Battalion, took off his hat and rode through the deserted city with his head uncovered". It is possible Cooke was assigned to this expedition because of his previous relationship with the Mormons, and their acceptance of him as a military leader.

1858 May On his return to Fort Leavenworth, Dr. Brewer "received orders and an assignment to duty with a body of troops just starting on their march for Utah. They left the fort on the 23rd of May, and passed through Salt Lake City on August 17th, en route to Camp Douglas, Cedar Valley, Utah where on the 19th they joined the big encampment in time to catch sight over Lake Utah of the first fall of snow, glistening like silver on the sunlit summits of the Wahsatch. While at Camp Floyd, Utah, on camp and hospital duties, he was further detailed for active operations in the field. He took part in the night surprise of a Ute village, crossed the 'Rockies' and the Great Desert with a body of troops sent out to protect the mail route and reopen overland mail communication with the Pacific, which had been interrupted by the Indian battle on the Humboldt and the destruction of the pony express stations between Salt Lake City and Carson Cities. He also took part in the expedition sent to South-Western Utah to investigate a massacre by the Mormons of a large emigrant train at the Mountain Meadows, near the rim of the Great Basin of the Rockies."
1896 Biographical Review for Cumberland County New Jersey

1859 May 6 Captain Charles Brewer, as an assistant army surgeon, reported to Congress on his findings of the Mountain Meadow Massacre as he had been sent with a detail to examine and oversee the burial of the remains of the victims. He said: "I reached a ravine fifty yards from the road, in which I found portions of the skeletons of many bodies, - skulls, bones, and matted hair, - most of which, on examination, I concluded to be those of men. Three hundred and fifty yards further on, another assembly of human remains was found, which, by all appearance, had been left to decay upon the surface; skulls and bones, most of which I believed to be those of women, some also of children, probably ranging from six to twelve years of age. Here, too, were found masses of women's hair, children's bonnets, such as are generally used upon the plains, and pieces of lace, muslin, calicoes, and other materials. Many of the skulls bore marks of violence, being pierced with bullet holes, or shattered by heavy blows, or cleft with some sharp-edged instrument." Sen. Doc. No. 42, 1st Session, 36th Congress Serial 1033

1859 May 20th The original monument for The Mountain Meadows Massacre was established by the US Army. The Biographical Review of Cumberland County New Jersey 1896 reported that "The remains...which had remained unburied, exposed to the elements or fangs of the wolves, after having been gathered together, were, with the relics of clothing and matted human hair, interred in one common tomb, covered with the unhewn rocks of the mountains, and marked with the inscription, 'Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord; I will repay.' Over twenty years after, on this same spot, was executed the heartless leader of this massacre, John D. Lee, after having been arrested, tried, and convicted of this atrocious crime."

There have been several monuments erected over the years. The most recent one was erected by the Mountain Meadows Association in collaboration with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and dedicated on September 11th, 1999. http://www.mtn-meadows-assoc.com/New Plaques/plaques.htm

1859 Sept 1 Meanwhile, in Millwood Virginia, John Esten Cooke wrote about a traditional tournament that was held in which Knights and Ladies enjoyed the cheerful festival and the exploits of the chevaliers. The "worthy chevaliers" were clad in costumes with colored scarfs, waving plumes, and "ornamental unmentionables, and favors of all descriptions. The first prize was the floral wreath which the victor would have the privilege of placing upon the brows of the fair Queen of Love and Beauty." The mythology of the cavalier was alive and well in the South starting from Colonial times and continuing on even as the country was on the brink of war. Jeb was portrayed as a cavalier, and events like these could well have been part of his background.

1859 Summer Philip St George Cooke visited Italy. Although several sources report that he was a military observer in the Crimean War in the late 1850's the fact is the Crimean War, which started in 1854, ended with the Peace of Paris in 1856. There were military observers that went to the Crimean War, among them Captain Geo. B. McClellan who reported on European cavalry methods, but Cooke was in the Midwest during this time.

"On June 9, 1859, the newspapers carried word of the outbreak of the Austro-Franco-Sardinian War [The Italian Campaign]...Cooke immediately sent a note to Adjutant General Cooper that he must: '...observe the action of cavalry in very large bodies in order to complete regimental and brigade evolution planning. Consequently, I request leave of absence until about October 1, to visit Europe and the war in Italy.' ...on July 4, he reported to the War Department from the American Legation in Paris saying he was going to "...set out for Turin, - and the seat of war, - tomorrow morning." "Colonel Cooke's plans were destined to go awry, for on July 9 the war ended, leaving him to return to the United States as best he might." The West of Philip St. George Cooke by Otis Young pp 318-319.

Since the Italians, French and Austrians all had large cavalry units, I can understand why my great great grandfather was eager to become an observer in this war as part of his development of new cavalry tactics. But did his plans "go awry" or was his timing a piece of luck? Although he was only there for a few days of this important and technologically modern war, his late arrival could have been beneficial as most likely there would have been many officers still there who would have held many a post mortem on the war and how it went, whereas if he had been there earlier there might have been little time for tactical discussions.
Helpful website: http://europeanhistory.about.com

Back in Washington Philip St. George Cooke and his family stayed at the Willard Hotel where he and his family had stayed on previous occasions. (Otis Young said Philip St. George Cooke was there from Dec 1858 - Feb 1, 1859.) The writing of the tactics went smoothly and when time came in October to check his conclusions, Cooke applied for orders to go to West Point for practice with the cadets. This was refused, but he was instead given the facilities of the replacement depot at Carlisle Barracks. Here he would: '...try out his evolutions on the boys. And sometimes...there would be an awful mix-up. The colonel would grunt and swear, dismiss the drill, and go back and work it all over until he succeeded in perfecting the formation." ...
"At the end of eighteen months, it was done; Cooke notified the War Department on January 11, 1860, that his manuscript Cavalry Tactics, with the exception of the planned drawings, was complete. He perhaps did not realize the fact that he had written a minor classic. It was adopted almost immediately by the War Department and went through many editions as late as 1883. A generation of officers in the cavalry service would make it their text." The West of Philip St. George Cooke by Otis Young p. 319, 320

The introduction to Cooke's Tactics highlights his enthusiasm for a single rank formation: "Adopting then, the single rank formation, my work of revision became one of construction; and I have freely chosen what I judged to be the best points in the systems of France, Russia, Prussia, Austria, and England. I have added to all. ...My confidence in a single rank system is further strengthened by its recommendation in the able work of Captain Geo. B. McClellan, and by which I have been much assisted." Cavalry Tactics introduction and book- http://members.cox.net/ltclee/Cooke.htm

It was approved by the President and published for the government by Nov 1,1861 just before Philip St. George Cooke arrived in Washington to participate in the Civil War.

I am aware that there are other books on cavalry tactics, but as my study is on Cooke and his family, I have focused on his one.

'His motto', stated General Wesley Merritt of Cooke, being 'sharp sabres and sharp spurs,'.... and his orders and example forcing a free, fast, and furious charge on the enemy wherever found...[he] was opposed to fighting on foot save in cases of necessity.'" Merritt, Life of Cooke p. 84 Otis Young p. 321

1859 Oct 17 Harpers Ferry Jeb Stuart and Flora, while on a six month leave from Fort Riley, spent time visiting relatives in Abington, Saltville and Laurel Hill in Virginia. On Oct 17th Jeb was in Washington to negotiate with the war department the sale of the sabre-attachment he had invented. (The patent sold for 5,000 dollars, and received the US Patent #25,684 on Oct 24th, 1859). While he was there, he was called to deliver a message to Col Robert E. Lee in Arlington, his old commandant from West Point, and voluntarily got involved in Harpers Ferry as Lee's aide. On Oct 18th he accompanied the marines under the direction of Robert E. Lee which crushed the John Brown Raid at Harpers Ferry. Jeb had recognized "Mr. Smith" as John Osawatomie Brown from his tour of duty during the conflicts in Kansas, and read the ultimatum to him to surrender immediately before the assault on the firehouse. After Brown was captured, Governor Wise brought in other troops.

Among the uniformed Richmond Howitzers was John Esten Cooke age 29, who had joined the howitzers sometime in the 1850's. He was a member until January 31st 1862 when he was discharged with the rank of sergeant, and joined up with Jeb Stuart.

John Brown whose well-meant but somewhat bizarre crusade to free the slaves, had engendered fear in the South of a revolution. He was charged with murder, treason, and inciting insurrection. He was hung on Dec 2nd 1859 which made him into a martyr in some circles, and moved the country even closer to war.

1859 Nov 2 Dr. Charles Brewer, now a Lieutenant in charge of a regiment with the 5th Regimental Infantry at Camp Floyd in Utah, wrote a letter to his mother Catherine [Musser Mediary] Brewer, in Annapolis. He was contending with dust storms and living in a mud house with a mud floor, but felt he was "fixed comfortably & will pass a pleasant winter".

He wrote "The Army in Utah is as much thought of as prairie rats. So far as traitors are concerned, the stories of older times are not to be compared with these audacious rebels & yet they are cajoled and caressed as if they were the heart of the country. We are waiting patiently to see if congress will take any new action. [Possibly he was referring to the Mormons as this letter was written was only six months after his May 1859 report to Congress on the Mountain Meadows Massacre] ... The 5th too will most probably be the first Regiment to get out of Utah but there is no telling where it will go." ... "The country has gotten into such a state of ---- that I am forced to believe that a war only can unite us & clear away the plaque. I believe the government to be most mistaken." ... "I love you all at home my dear mother. But the army has not yet enabled me to be to you what I had believed it would. I am therefore often low spirited & melancholy & I occasionally feel very miserable indeed. I try to look forward to better times but one may die waiting for them to come." ..."Remember me affectionately to father & all my brothers & sisters & never forget me at the [??] Believe that I love you all more than I ever did and look forward to being at some future time again reunited to you - as ever your affectionate son Charles" [Excerpts from original letter courtesy of John Eldridge]

1859, Dec 10 Charles again wrote to his mother He starts: "I have been setting before the fire re-reading your letter of October the 6th. The only letter I have received from the East for about two months. Your letters always do me a world of good. They are so cheerful and encouraging and always put me in good spirits."
...Annapolis is growing to be such a grand place that I shall hardly recognize it when I get back which must certainly be next year. I hope that this will be your last winter without having me with you. I am trying to get away next spring or summer so that I can be at home in the winter & attend another course of lectures and take Jack [John Williams Brewer, his brother] in hand. Tell him that I have written on to Fort Leavenworth where I was obliged to leave my medical books to have them sent on to him by Adams and C. Express. I want to try and get him into the Army as a surgeon after a while. Even when there are no vacancies, numbers of citizens are constantly employed to attend the quartermaster's employees, and if he had graduated in medicine & been but here with me he could have had an excellent posture with a handsome salary. Tell him to study particularly anatomy and chemistry. When I get back I can post him up in surgery and the practice of medicine in a little while."
"You need have no fears about my using spirits. I see too much of its harmful influence around me, and hate it with all my nature. But there are stronger reasons than this which restrain me. Its use is incompatible with a proper discharge of my duties and the maintenance of the respect which my position claims. Besides too I love you my dear mother & father too much to do what I know would cause you to suffer and feel anxious about me. Cards too I fear worse than I do liquor, they poison slowly yet fatally every sense of moral obligations, and bring a young man rapidly to ruin. I never handle them, never played a game in my life even for amusement. The professional positions in the army are always urged and allowed as the strongest argument for our strict ?? and morality... The weather has however been intensely cold. The snow is heavy and the mails very irregular. The thermometer has been as low as 22ยก below the zero of Fahrenheit. ... I have just gotten my new Hospital finished & have it full but expect them all to recover. They are often very low with Pneumonia, Typhoid Fever & Typhoid Pneumonia, but they generally get over it. I have only lost one patient in the Army of Utah since I have been here. Some of the others have lost a dozen.
How I would like to spend one more Christmas at home. We expect it to be a cheerful one here, but it will be nothing like being at home. With little or no field service to perform, we have a comparatively comfortable time. But occasionally we feel very much disgusted. During the last space of bad weather two weeks ago, our mud roofs all leaked badly - in my room there was only a place under the ridge pole & near the hearth large enough for my chair that did not leak. ...It has now frozen up again and is intensely cold. ...The Mormons are quiet at present & will no doubt be quite inoffensive until they see whether congress will still tolerate them. We see very little of them. ...
Remember me warmly, my dear mother to all my friends & affectionately to father & my sisters & brothers. ...How I would like to see them. ... I hope the girls will not be in a hurry about getting married. In a year or two we'll all be in better circumstances. I believe that after a while they will be able to marry to better advantage. About my own marriage it would have been much better, I expect, if I had deferred it at least five years - as matters now stand I must make only one year more the limit. [Charles and Maria Cooke were married on Jan 5, 1861].
Our mails are so irregular & go so very rarely that you must not feel uneasy at not hearing from me after. I shall always write when I get an opportunity. Believe me as ever your affectionate son. Charles
[From original letter courtesy of John Eldridge]

1860 June 26 Birth of a son to Jeb & Flora Stuart at Fort Riley Kansas. It is possible that Rachel was thereto be with Flora during the birth. The baby was originally named Philip St. George Cooke Stuart, but after the family split during the Civil War, his named was changed to Jeb Jr. On Aug 10th, while on the Kiowa and Comanche Campaign, Jeb, as the official journalist wrote "Lee told me I had a fine son". And on August the 15th he wrote: "Early this morning left Crit's camp & after 40 miles jog arrived with joyous tramp at our own doors at Fort Riley taking our families completely by surprise." On this day Jeb first set eyes on his son. So both Rachel and Flora gave birth to their only surviving male children while their husbands were away.

1860 Summer - Jeb and the 1st Cavalry went west to the Arkansas River to build Fort Wise in Colorado where they wintered, working with logging crews in the wilderness. Flora and the children remained at Fort Riley, about 300 miles away, where her father was in command. It is possible that Rachel, Maria, and Julia were also there to give her support.

1860 Fall Dr. Charles Brewer left Camp Floyd Utah on a furlough.

Last Updated ( Friday, 26 June 2009 18:31 )