Sunday, November 11, 2012

Brigadier General Philip St. George Cocke, my 6th cousin 6x removed

Brigadier General Philip St. George Cocke

Brigadier General Philip St. George Cocke was born in Fluvanna County, Virginia on April 17, 1809.  He was the son of John Hartwell Cocke, my 5th cousin 7x removed.   John Hartwell Cocke was born in Fluvanna County, Virgina on September 19, 1780 and was a Brigadier General in command of the Virginia Militia during the War of 1812.  His Brigade was made up of recruits from Fluvanna County.   From 1812-1813, Cocke led the defense of Richmond, Virginia along the Chickahominy River.  He was noted as being a distinguished officer who inforced strict discipline over insubordate officers.  Cocke rode a bay stallion named Roebuck during the war.

Brigadier General John Hartwell Cocke on Roebuck

Following the War of 1812, John returned home to his estate, Bremo.   He was a longtime associate of former President, Thomas Jefferson.   He was instrumental in fufilling Jefferson's vision for the University of Virginia.  His diary has been the source of much attention due to his writings about Jefferson's relationship with slave Sally Hemings.  The following passage is taken directly from Cocke's diary.

It is too well known they are not few, nor far between...Were they enumerated with the statistics of the State, they would be found by hundreds. Nor is it to be wondered at, when Mr. Jefferson's notorious example is to be considered." A few years later, he returned to the topic: "All Batchelors [sic], or a large majority at least, keep as a substitute for a wife some individual of the[ir] own Slaves. In Virginia this damnable practice prevails as much as any where, and probably more, as Mr. Jefferson's example can be pleaded for its defense.
—John Hartwell Cocke, April 23, 1859

John Hartwell Cocke in the 1850's

John Hartwell Cocke died in Fluvanna County, Virginia on June 24, 1866.  He is buried on the grounds of his former homeplace.

Philip St. George Cocke

Philip St. George Cocke was educated at the United States Military Academy, and graduated sixth in his class in 1832 with the rank of Brevet Second Lieutenant.  Philip was soon assigned as Second Lieutenant to the Artillery, then stationed at Charleston, South Carolina.

He served here during the exciting years of 1832-33, becoming Adjutant of the Second Artillery on July 13, 1833. On April 1, 1834, he resigned, and from that time until the outbreak of the Civil War, lived the life of a planter in Virginia and Mississippi.  By 1860 Cocke owned more than 27,000 acres of land and more than 650 slaves in the two states and reckoned his net worth at more than $1,000,000. His widely scattered plantations required management through overseers, and he compiled detailed manuals for directing the work. Cocke gained renown as a leading advocate of agricultural interests.  He devoted his energies and talents to agricultural pursuits, published a book on "Plantation and Farm Instruction," in 1852, and from 1853 to 1856 was president of the Virginia State agricultural society

Philip organized the Powhatan Cavalry with his own funds following John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry.
He was prominent in the Virginia Councils during the momentous month of April 1861, and on April 21st, having been appointed Brigadier General in the Virginia State Service, he was assigned to command of the important frontier military district along the Potomac river.

Three days later, from his headquarters at Alexandria, he reported to General Lee, stating that he had but 300 men in sight of an enemy of 10,000 rapidly increasing. Lee commended the policy Cocke had pursued, and advised him to make known that he was not there for attack, but that an invasion of Virginia would be considered an act of war.

Cocke made his headquarters at Culpeper, April 27th, and on May 5th Alexandria was evacuated. He was given charge of the mustering of volunteer troops in a large part of the State, with rendezvous at Leesburg, Warrenton, Culpeper, Charlottesburg and Lynchburg, and he issued a proclamation urging rapid enlistment in defense of the State, not for aggression.

In the Confederate States service Cocke was commissioned as a Colonel of the Virginia 19th Infantry Regiment., a reduction in rank that deeply offended him.  Beauregard assigned him command of the Fifth Brigade, which consisted of the Eighth, Eighteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-eighth and Forty-ninth Virginia Infantry Regiments.  Cocke commanded this Brigade during the First Battle of Manassas or Bull Run.   

Muster Roll showing Philip's commision as Colonel of the Virgina 19th Infantry Regiment

For ability shown in strategic movements at Blackburn's ford he was officially thanked by Beauregard. On July 20th he was stationed at Ball's ford, on Bull run, and in the Confederate preparations for the battle of the 21st, he was given command also of Evans' brigade and various unassigned companies, including Cavalry and Artillery.

The contemplated advance which he was to make against Centreville was abandoned on account of the Federal flank movement, and while Evans, reinforced by Generals Bee and Bartow, opposed the enemy in that quarter, he sustained the attack in the vicinity of the stone bridge, with his headquarters at the
Lewis house, until at 2 p. m., about an hour before the arrival of General Elzey, he led his brigade into action on the left with "alacrity and effect."

Register showing Philip's promotion and death

This was his last battle. After eight months' service in the Confederate States Army, during which he was promoted Brigadier General, he returned home, shattered in body and mind.  Cocke possessed a strong impulse to public service and an equally strong sense of self-importance and high opinion of his own abilities as a military commander. Proud and temperamental, he was easily affronted and quick to perceive malice in others' treatment of him. In October 1861 Cocke was promoted to brigadier general but too late to salve his wounded pride. His manner became distracted, and one colleague feared he was no longer of sound mind. On December 26, 1861, in a state of despondency and mental anguish over what he regarded as poor treatment by General Robert E. Lee and others, Philip St. George Cocke committed suicide at Belmead by shooting himself in the head with a pistol. He was originally buried on his estate, but in 1904 his remains were reinterred in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.  Philip St. George Cocke was the only Confederate General to commit suicide.

Grave of Philip St. George Cocke

Here's my relation to Philip:

Philip St. George Cocke (1809 - 1861)
is your 6th cousin 6x removed
John Hartwell Cocke 2nd (1780 - 1866)
Father of Philip St. George
John Hartwell Cocke (1749 - 1791)
Father of John Hartwell
Hartwell Cocke (1732 - 1772)
Father of John Hartwell
Richard Cocke IV (1690 - 1750)
Father of Hartwell
Richard Cocke III (1660 - 1720)
Father of Richard
Richard Cocke II (1639 - 1706)
Father of Richard
Richard Cocke (1597 - 1665)
Father of Richard
Thomas Cocke (1638 - 1696)
Son of Richard
Capt Thomas Cocke (1664 - 1707)
Son of Thomas
Brazure Cocke (1694 - 1770)
Son of Capt Thomas
William Cocke (1715 - 1797)
Son of Brazure
Sarah Cocke (1730 - 1785)
Daughter of William
Nancy Ann Daniel (1776 - 1843)
Daughter of Sarah
Benjamin Lucious Moss (1792 - 1847)
Son of Nancy Ann
James C. Moss (1824 - 1891)
Son of Benjamin Lucious
William Allen Moss (1859 - 1931)
Son of James C.
Valeria Lee Moss (1890 - 1968)
Daughter of William Allen
Phebe Teresa Wheeler Lewis (1918 - 1977)
Daughter of Valeria Lee
Joyce Elaine Lewis (1948 - )
Daughter of Phebe Teresa
Chip Stokes
You are the son of Joyce

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