Make your own free website on

Brigadier General Philip St. George Cocke, P.A.C.S.


Brigadier General Philip St. George Cocke was born in Virginia in the year 1808. He was educated at the United States military academy, and graduated in 1832 with the rank of brevet second lieutenant, and was soon assigned as second lieutenant to the artillery then stationed at Charleston, S.C. He served here during the exciting years of 1832-33, becoming adjutant of the Second artillery, July 13, 1833. On April 1, 1834, he resigned and from that time until the outbreak of the Confederate war lived the life of a planter in Virginia and Mississippi. 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. He was prominent in Virginia councils during the momentous month of April, 1861, and on April 21st, having been appointed brigadier-general in the 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 know 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 [sic] and Lynchburg, and he issued a proclamation urging rapid enlistment in defense of the State, not for aggression. In the Confederate States service he was given the rank of colonel, and in the army of Beauregard was assigned to command of the Fifth brigade, consisting of the Eighth, Eighteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-eighth and Forty- ninth Virginia regiments. 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 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 Elzey, he led his brigade into action on the left with "alacrity and effect." This was his last battle. After eight months' service, during which he was promoted to brigadier-general in the provisional army, he returned home, shattered in body and mind, and his life was terminated December 26, 1861 [by suicide.]

Source: Evans, Clement, Confederate Military History, Volume III, Confederate Publishing Company, Atlanta, GA, 1899.

Return to the Virginia Civil War Home Page.