Brig. General George B. Cosby (CSA)

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Brig. General George B. Cosby (CSA)'s Geni Profile

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George Blake Cosby

Birthdate: (79)
Birthplace: Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky, United States
Death: June 29, 1909 (79)
Oakland, Alameda County, California, United States
Place of Burial: Sacramento, Sacramento County, California, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Fortunatus Cosby, Jr. and Ellen Mary Jane Cosby
Brother of Ellen Blake Carpenter

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Brig. General George B. Cosby (CSA)

Birth: Jan. 19, 1830 Death: Jun. 29, 1909

Civil War Confederate Brigadier General. He was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and was a graduate of the United States Military Academy, where he was 17th in the class of 1852. Upon graduation he fought Comanches in Texas for the next 9 years. On May 9, 1861, he was promoted to Captain of the 2nd United States Cavalry. On May 10 he resigned to join the Confederacy.

Except for a brief stay in St. Louis and duty teaching cavalry tactics at the academy, he had not often been out of Texas in a decade. But as a Confederate staff officer, on February 15, 1862, he found himself in Tennessee walking out across Confederate lines to ask Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant for surrender terms. He had received his Confederate army appointment as a staff Major assigned successively to forces under Brigadier Generals Gideon J. Pillow, John B. Floyd, and Lloyd Tilghman in Tennessee. After the fall of Confederate Fort Henry and Tilghman's capture, Grant's forces converged on Fort Donelson, where Pillow passed command to Floyd, then escaped. Floyd in turn passed command to Brigadier General Simon B. Buckner, then escaped. And Buckner gave Major Cosby a note to carry to Grant offering surrender. He was exchanged after a brief period as a prisoner of war.

On General Joseph E. Johnston's recommendation he was given a commission to Brigadier General. He then assumed command of cavalry under Major General Earl Van Dorn, who had been his Major in their days in the United States Cavalry. He saw action in the engagement at Thompson's Station, Tennessee, in spring 1863, then moved to Johnston's command for operations around Vicksburg.

His next and last transfer was to the Confederate Department of West Virginia and East Tennessee, where he served as cavalry commander of a body of men that varied in number and was briefly led by Brigadier General John Hunt Morgan after his escape from the Ohio State Penitentiary. In this theater of the war he dueled with troops led by his old West Point classmate Brigadier General George Crook. When he heard of General Robert E. Lee's surrender, he was still in the field, commanding Kentucky horsemen and led by a senior Brigadier General , John Echols. Echols wanted to join forces with Johnston's army in North Carolina, but he believed resistance useless and disbanded his men, advising them to go home as quietly and as safely as possible, ending his part in the Civil War.

Later he farmed in California and served as secretary of the state board of engineers. He committed suicide, apparently because of poor health caused by old war injuries. (bio by: Ugaalltheway)


Brigadier General George B. Cosby was born in Kentucky, and from that State was appointed to the United States military academy on September 1, 1848. On July 1, 1852, he graduated and entered the army as brevet second-lieutenant of mounted riflemen. For one year thereafter he served at the Carlisle, Pa., cavalry school for practice, and the next year was on frontier duty at Fort Ewell, Fort Merritt and Edinburgh, Tex., having become full second-lieutenant September 16, 1853.

During 1854 he was a great deal of the time on scouting duty, and in May of that year was severely wounded in a skirmish with the Comanche Indians near Lake Trinidad. Subsequently, he was on garrison duty at Fort Clark, Tex., and at Jefferson Barracks, Mo.

He was assistant instructor of cavalry at the military academy 1855-57. Then he was on duty in Texas, and on May 13, 1859, was again engaged against the Comanche Indians in the Nescutunga valley.

He was on leave of absence when the long-standing sectional quarrel developed into open hostility. Believing in the doctrine of State sovereignty and in the justice of the Southern cause, he resigned his commission on May 10, 1861, and offered his services to the Confederate States. His offer was accepted and he was immediately appointed captain of cavalry and assigned to duty in Kentucky.

By September 1861, he had been appointed major and was under orders of General Buckner in central and southern Kentucky. At the battle of Fort Donelson he was acting as chief-of-staff to General Buckner, and was the bearer of the note from Buckner to Grant regarding the surrender of the fort and garrison. General Buckner in his official report says: " Maj. George B. Cosby, my chief-of-staff, deserves the highest commendation for the gallant and intelligent discharge of his duties." As soon as the garrison of Fort Donelson had been exchanged, Major Cosby reported for duty and was soon serving his country again as colonel of cavalry.

In January, 1863, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, then at Jackson, Miss., in a letter to President Davis said: " Do give me by telegraph Armstrong, Cosby and R. A. Howard for brigadier-generals. They are strongly recommended by Major-Generals Van Dorn and Buckner and are, I am confident, fully competent." Three days later Colonel Cosby was notified of his appointment as brigadier-general.

In the engagement at Thompson's Station, Tenn., March 5, 1863, where Colonel Coburn with more than 1,200 Federal officers and soldiers surrendered to General Van Dorn, Cosby's brigade bore a prominent part. Gen. Wm. T. Martin, commanding the First cavalry division on that occasion called attention in his report to the activity and gallantry of General Cosby during the engagement, as well as the general good conduct of the officers and men of the brigade."

During the Vicksburg and Jackson campaigns in Mississippi, Cosby and his brigade of cavalry did good service for Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, and he continued from this time to the close of the war to serve with great ability in the department of Alabama, Mississippi and East Louisiana.

After peace had been restored he moved to Butte County, Cal, and began farming. He was not permitted to remain in retirement. From 1878 to 1883 he was secretary of the board of State engineers of California ; in 1886 was member of the board of visitors to the United States military academy; during 1888 was superintendent of construction of the United States building at Sacramento, Cal.; and subsequently recording clerk in the office of the secretary of state of California.

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Brig. General George B. Cosby (CSA)'s Timeline

January 19, 1830
Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky, United States
June 29, 1909
Age 79
Oakland, Alameda County, California, United States
Sacramento, Sacramento County, California, United States