A Civil War Biography
Robert Latimer McCook
McCook was born 28 December 1827 in New Lisbon, Ohio. He studied law
in Steubenville, Ohio at the office of Stanton & McCook, Edwin M.
Stanton, future Secretary of War in Lincoln's cabinet and Daniel
McCook, a prominent Ohio attorney and Robert's father. After passing
the bar Robert McCook established a large law practice in
When the war started he organized the 9th Ohio in Cincinnati and was
commissioned its colonel on 6 May 1861. The 9th, originally a three
month regiment, was reorganized at Camp Dennison as a three year
regiment. It was ordered to the western part of Virginia on 16 June
1861 and was attached to the 3rd brigade of the George B.
McClellan's Army of Occupation. McCook was given command of the
brigade and saw action at Rich Mountain on 10 July and during the
capture of Beverly on 12 July.
In December 1861 McCook's brigade was transferred to the Army of the
Ohio and was attached as the 3rd brigade to the 1st division. At the
battle of Mills Spring, Kentucky which took place 19-20 January
1862, McCook was severely wounded. He rejoined his command before
his wound was healed and continued in command even though he could
not mount his horse. He was promoted to brigadier general of
volunteers on 21 March 1862 and took part in the advance and siege
of Corinth, Mississippi.
On 5 August 1862 McCook set out with his brigade from Decherd,
Tennessee in what appeared to be a reconnaissance in force. McCook
rode in an ambulance due to a severe attack of dysentery. His
earlier wound also had not healed. As the ambulance traveled in the
gap between two regiments, a band of guerillas, commanded by Captain
Frank B. Gurley, attacked the isolated target. Accounts of McCook's
shooting vary. Some claim he was shot as he was lying in the
ambulance unable to rise as Federal troops were approaching. Other
accounts have shots being fired as the ambulance, with McCook,
Captain Hunter Brooke of McCook's staff, and a Negro teamster, was
trying to escape the attackers.
McCook was hit on the left side below the ribs. He died the next
day, 6 August 1862. The Northern press played the story up as a
cold-blooded murder. Gurley became one of the most wanted criminals
in the country because of the political influence of the McCook
family. Two of Robert's brothers, Alexander McDowell McCook, and
Daniel McCook Jr., and a cousin Edward Moody MCCook, would become
generals. Daniel Jr. was mortally wounded at Kennesaw Mountain.
Including the three generals, Daniel McCook sent 10 sons into Union
service. Three sons would be killed, as well as Daniel himself who
at the age of 65 was mortally wounded on 19 July 1863 near
Buffington Island, Ohio in an attempt to stop John Hunt Morgan's
1863 raid. In addition to his 10 sons, Daniel's brother and five of
his nephews would also serve in the Union army or navy.
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