Philip St. George Cocke, Gen. (1809 - 1861)

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Brig. General Philip St. George Cocke (CSA)'s Geni Profile

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Birthplace: Mount Pleasant, Frederick, Virginia, United States
Death: Died
Cause of death: suicide
Occupation: General
Managed by: Doug Robinson
Last Updated:

About Philip St. George Cocke, Gen.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_St._George_Cocke

Philip St. George Cocke (April 17, 1809 – December 26, 1861) was a brigadier general in the Confederate States Army during the first year of the American Civil War. He is best known for organizing the defense of Virginia along the Potomac River soon after the state's secession from the Union. He commanded troops in the Battle of Blackburn's Ford and the First Battle of Bull Run (First Manassas) in July 1861 before becoming despondent and committing suicide.

Philip St. George Cocke was born at "Bremo Bluff", Fluvanna County, Virginia. His father, John Hartwell Cocke, had been an officer in the United States Army during the War of 1812.

Cocke graduated from the University of Virginia in 1828 and then from the United States Military Academy in 1832 with the rank of brevet second lieutenant. He was soon assigned as second lieutenant to an artillery unit in Charleston, South Carolina. He served there during 1832 and 1833, becoming adjutant of the 2nd U.S. Artillery on July 13, 1833.

On April 1, 1834, Cocke resigned from the military and became a cotton planter in Powhatan County, Virginia and in Mississippi. He married Sallie Elizabeth Courtney Bowdoin on June 4, 1834.

Cocke became an accomplished agriculturist, publishing frequent articles in journals, as well as a book on plantation management entitled Plantation and Farm Instruction in 1852. From 1853 to 1856, Cocke was president of the Virginia State Agricultural Society.[2] In 1859, concerned by John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry, he organized a militia infantry company known as the Powhatan Troop to help defend Powhatan County in case of a similar action or a slave revolt in the future.

On April 21, 1861, Cocke was appointed as a brigadier general in the service of the Commonwealth of Virginia by Governor John Letcher. He was assigned command of all state forces along the Potomac River. Three days later, from his headquarters at Alexandria, Virginia, he reported to newly commissioned Maj. Gen. Robert E. Lee (assigned on April 22 to the command of all Virginia forces) that he had only 300 men to defend against what he thought was 10,000 Union troops across the river in Washington, D.C. Cocke made his headquarters at Culpeper, Virginia, on April 27, in order to better oversee the entire line of the Potomac as well as the mustering of volunteer troops in a large part of the state. Alexandria was evacuated by Lt. Col. A. S. Taylor on May 5, despite Cocke's orders "not to abandon it without fighting, even against overwhelming numbers."

Under Lee's orders, Cocke organized a new defensive line at Manassas. Cocke may have been the first to formulate the Confederate defensive strategy of concentrating forces at Manassas and at Winchester in the Shenandoah Valley, and using the Manassas Gap Railroad to allow them to be mutually supporting. This strategy would be a decisive factor in the Confederate victory in the First Battle of Bull Run.

When Virginia's state forces were consolidated with the Provisional Army of the Confederate States, Cocke was given the rank of colonel in the new CSA forces. Because of this effective demotion, Cocke was superseded in command at Manassas on May 21 by Brig. Gen. Milledge L. Bonham.

Cocke was eventually assigned to the army of P. G. T. Beauregard in command of the 5th Brigade, consisting of the 8th, 18th, 19th, 28th, and 49th Virginia Infantry regiments. His brigade was initially assigned to Centreville, but in the face of advancing Union forces, withdrew behind Bull Run on July 17.

He was officially thanked by Beauregard for his ability shown in strategic movements at the Battle of Blackburn's Ford.

On July 20 Cocke was stationed at Ball's Ford on Bull Run. In the subsequent First Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861, Cocke was assigned to advance against Centreville, a plan abandoned when the Federals began their flanking movement against the Confederate left. While Col. Nathan George Evans, reinforced by Brig. Gen. Barnard Bee and Col. Francis S. Bartow, opposed the enemy, Cocke's forces defended against attack in the vicinity of the Stone Bridge, with his headquarters at the Lewis house. At 2 p.m., about an hour before the arrival of Elzey, he led his brigade into action on the left with "alacrity and effect." He was promoted to brigadier general in the Confederate Army on October 21 and given command of the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Division of the Confederate Army of the Potomac.[9]

First Bull Run was Cocke's last battle. After eight months' service, during which he was promoted to brigadier general in the provisional Confederate army, he returned home, "shattered in body and mind." Exhausted from the strain, and despondent over perceived slights from General Beauregard stemming from the Battle of Manassas, Cocke shot himself in the head on December 26, 1861, at his mansion, "Belmead", in Powhatan County, Virginia.[5] He was initially buried on the plantation grounds, but he was reintered in 1904 at Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Virginia.

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Brig. General Philip St. George Cocke (CSA)'s Timeline

1809
April 17, 1809
Mount Pleasant, Frederick, Virginia, United States
1834
June 4, 1834
Age 25
Belmeade, Powhatan County
1836
October 2, 1836
Age 27
Richmond, VA, USA
1837
November 14, 1837
Age 28
Surry, Surry, VA, USA
1840
January 31, 1840
Age 30
Powhatan, Powhatan, VA, USA
1842
June 25, 1842
Age 33
1844
March 17, 1844
Age 34
Powhatan, Powhatan, VA, USA
1846
1846
Age 36
1848
September 27, 1848
Age 39
1851
March 12, 1851
Age 41
Powhatan, Powhatan, VA, USA