1860 Philip St. George's Zenith point

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1860 -1861 This was Philip St. George Cooke's zenith point. At 52 years of age, he was considered to be one of the army's foremost cavalry leaders. He had made a trip to Europe as a military observer, and had both his Scenes and Adventures in the Army and Calvary Tactics books published. As well he was working on getting recognition for his 1840's Evolutionary Theory on Mental Heredity. His children were doing well. His son John Rogers had attended Harvard and was a U.S. Army infantry officer. Flora and Maria had married military men he genuinely liked. He had two grandchildren by Flora and Jeb - a girl named Flora and a boy named after him. His wagon road had led to the Gadston Purchase in 1853 in order to build a railroad to California. He was also department commander at Fort Crittenden in Utah Territory. All of these events must have combined to make him feel as if he was fulfilling a special destiny in the scheme of things. But as he reached the most rewarding point of his renowned military career and indeed of his life, the Civil War came along and divided the once close-knit family. Because of his fame and Jeb Stuart's brief but brilliant career, the family became the subject of national gossip. The rift caused by the war estranged some the family members for a very long time.

1861 Jan 5 Marriage of Maria Pendleton Cooke and Dr. Charles Brewer at Fort Riley Kansas. According to Otis Young, "They had been engaged for nearly two years without seeing each other until he obtained a leave to visit her. The leave was revoked after he arrived, so they decided to have the wedding immediately; General Dixon S. Miles gave Maria away in the absence of her father." My grandmother Wirt (Brewer) Alvord said her grandfather was "not too pleased" when he was informed, but he was in Utah at the time, so the decision was understandable. Little did the Cookes realize that it would be several years before they would see Maria and Charles again.

1861 Jan 11 Jeb, still at Fort Wise, applied for leave to bring his family there. He also wrote to Jefferson Davis applying for a position in the Army of the South "In view of the impending condition of affairs in our country" and named Colonel Cooke among others, as a reference for his ability and character. It is clear that he and his father-in-law were on good terms at this time, and that he assumed that Philip would be on the side of the South.

1861 Jan 28 John Rogers Cooke was promoted to first lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

1861 Spring In this period of growing conflict, Jeb went to Ft. Riley to see how events were unfolding between the North and the South. When he arrived he found he had been appointed captain of the 1st US Cavalry. He received a letter from John Esten Cooke with the warning that he and Philip St. George Cooke could become enemies of the South if they did not act quickly. I assume John Esten also sent a similar letter to Philip who was still in Utah. As time went on the expectation that Philip St. George Cooke would go with the South became less sure. One can only imagine the uneasiness felt all around as the impending split went from a hairline crack to a vast chasm between the family members. In April Jeb and his family returned to Virginia via St. Louis and Memphis, arriving in Richmond on May 6th.

1861 April 10 John Esten Cooke enlisted in the Confederate Southern Army.


Penelope Barrott
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New Zealand 2009

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 25 June 2014 12:45 )