Lewis Co, Tennessee:
Civil War Letters
 

CIVIL WAR LETTERS OF THE FAMILY OF COL. ROBERT MELVILLE COOPER

Robert Melville and Catherine Cooper, as we have previously stated, had ten sons who served in the Confederacy - Albert Gallatin, William McAdams, James Carlisle, Henry Augustus, Robert Theodore, Thomas Simpson, Alexander Duval and Samuel Gwin who were twins, Leander Bruce, and Alfred Theodorick.  Five of them gave their lives - Alexander Duval was the first, followed by his twin Samuel Gwin, William McAdams, Robert Theodore, and Henry Augustus.

The complier has not placed these letters in chronological order but has grouped them according to the writer, feeling that this order would give the reader a better conception of the individual and his personal life during the war.  We begin these letters with those of Capt. Robert Theodore Cooper who was among the first to enlist and form a Company of his own.

Submitted by Mary Bob McClain Richardson

Newburgh,
May 13, 1861
 

To:  ALEXANDER DUVAL COOPER
          Brother:   You must come to my house Thursday evening prepared to go to mt. Olivet Friday and then to Ashland Saturday.  Bring you gun.  The Linden Company will be there.  You must keep you powder dry.  We will start tomorrow week(Thursday).  Our Company is reported to Mt. Pleasant.  T. PLES PLUMMER is gone to Lynnville today to vote for the Colonel of the Regiment.  Thursday week is the longeset time we could get.  Come certain - there will be a barbecue at both places.

Oct. the 2nd 1861
          As I failed to get me letter off by MR. ENGLISH I will write you a few lines to night.
          The news came in to night that two of our men from the Cavalry has been killed either from CAPT. BIFFLE or WOODARD Companys.  The news is correct, but not certain which Company.  WOODARD's Company is a Ky. Company.  I have no idea when we will leave here.  They are still at work on the Breastwork with 300 hands.  BRUCE is on guard to night.  The boys are all doing well, them that have been sick are improving faster than I ever saw.  The Company's from our Regt. that have been gone will be in tomorrow.  COL. BROWN told me this evening that they was on their way home & then I will write more full in regard to their expedition.  I want you to have the letter that I.....(the rest torn off.)

Your brother,
R.T. Cooper
 

Tell BRUCE  this is intended for him too.  We are in the same Regiment of the Mt. Pleasant Company.
(On Back of Letter)
P.S.  PETER reports PARIS is mending.  ELIZABETH is better.         A.G. COOPER


Camp - Near Bowling Green, Ky.
September 30th 1861

 

Dear Pa and Ma, (Robert Melville and Catherine Cooper)
         Our Regiment is divided into 4 Companies with GENERAL BUCKNER in pursuit of the enemy.  The Camp is 1 mile from the square.  There are 8,000 men here and are fortifying.  ROUSSEAU is at Muldrough's Hill with some 2300 men and has 1600 at Elizabethtown some 12 miles this side.
          Yesterday I had my whole Company up town guarding the depot and policing the town.  I am pretty tired but I feel like I can make it through pretty easy.  BRUCE looks better than I ever saw him.  I never saw our boys in better spirits.  I have none of my men in the hospital.  I drew money in Nashville for eleven days.  The Souther Confederacy will have to pay me now.  I will send you some as soon as I draw again and have a safe way to get it back.
           Tell MOLLIE that I want her hogs and all that THOMAS has.  I will get the money soon.  I will send her some when ALBERT comes up.
          The boys have all gone to bed, and if you could hear and smell them, you would think they were sleeping as if they were in a palace.  GEORGE SIMS is well.  He has seen a great many strang things since he left home.  The boys have to stand guard every other night, and don't drill hardly any.
          I must close for I am very sleepy.  We are having frost here now.  Rest assured we are all well.  Yours in Haste,
 

R.T. Cooper
 

Send your letters to Bowling Green, Ky.  Col. Brown's Regiment & they will follow.  Correct mistakes.  I send this by MR. ENGLISH of Giles Co. to same P.O. in Tenn.
 


 

Letter from Lavonia (McClain) Cooper to her husband,
Thomas Simpson Cooper
State Of Tennessee  Maury County  Dec. 22, 1861

Dear Husband,
          I seat myself to write you a few lines fo rthe second time in life but I hope itw ill not be the last.  I have not been in good health since you left.  I have stayed at your Paps most of my time.  I came from there yesterday and last night I was very sick spiting up blood.  I have been spiting it up ever since you left.  I wish you could come home and see me.  If you can not come I want you to send me your picture by WILLIAM and tell him to stop at Paps to give it to me for I will have to stay at home close for I am not able to go.  I cannot tell how bad I want to see you.  If you take sick with the measles you msut come home.  I do not feel well today.  If you was here I wuld feel better.  I hope that we will meet again.  If we don't meet in this world I hope we meet in Heaven where there is no death and where friends never part.  The Baby grows very fast.  He crys every morning to get up before day.  He has taken up with ALFRED.  He trys to tae his apron off.  He is as fat as a pig.
          I will quit for the present for I have not time to write any more.  R.T. COOPER is going to start in the morning.  I will sent it up there for I am not able to take it.  If you take the measles you must be serten to come home.  The Baby is qurling and I will have to quit.  Serten to write as soon as you get this.
                                                Yours truly until death,                                      
                                               Lavonia Cooper

Forget me not, Write Soon.

Prison of War Papers of Alfred Theodorick Cooper

I the undersigned, Prisoner of war, Alfred T. Cooper, Co. H, 8th Tenn. captured near Mount Pleasant, Tenn., this 12 day of December 1863, do hereby give my parole of honer that, I, will not take up armes against the U.S. States of America, until I am properley exchanged.  Sworn to and subscribed to the presence of Capt. Walter H. Smith, this 12 day of Dec. 1863.  A.T. COOPER, in presence of Capt. W.H. Smith, Comr. Co. K 6th U.S. Cavalry.

(Note:  This is transcribed from a reproduction of the actual War Papers of Alfred Theodorick Cooper, who is buried at McClain Cemetery, in Lewis County, Tennessee. mbmcr)

Bowling Green Ky Dec. 11th 1861

Dear Niece,  write and tell me where THOMAS is.  Tell WILIAM I got the pair of drawers and socks.  MR. RANDLE said he lost the others.
                                                                                 MART McCLAIN

Bowling Green, Ky.
October the 10th 1861

Dear Brother,
(note:  Wm. T. McClain)
  I take my seat to pen you a few lines to let you know that I am well.  I think that in a few more days I will be as well as I ever was.  We have no idea how long we will stay here.  We have some 15,00 troops here now and they are coming in every day.  GEN. HARDEE is expected here today with his command.  It is thought that when we get some 40,000 troops here that we will advance on Lousiville.  This is a very nice place here.  I like the camp better than any we have been at.  This is very fine country and I am much pleased with it.
  It is now generally believed that we will advance on Louisville in ten days if GEN. HARDEE brings 20,000 troops.  We will go immediately to that City.  I am in good spirits.  The boys are getting along tolerable well.  Tell Father & Mother howdy for me.  I will come home when I get the chance.  Good Bye,
                                                                                   Your brother,
                                                                                   Martin C. McClain.

P.S.  WM.  JUNE says that ROBERT
(note:  This is Martin's other brother) owed him $1.75.  Pay it to his wife.

The most touching of all the Civil War letters found is the following from CATHERINE (COOPER) COOPER,  wife of ROBERT MELVILLE COOPER, to two of her sons.  The letter was written just ten days before she died on April 16, 1863 of pneumonia.  She, too, gave her life as died her sons and grandsons - they gave theirs on the battle field - her's was in the hospital room where she fought valiantly to save the sick and the wounded, never looking at the color of a uniform.

April 6, 1863

MR. JAMES and THOMAS COOPER,

          My dear sons: -
                                  I take this opportunity to write you a few lines, which will inform you that myself and your PA are in usual health.  I am not in Columbia and have been eight days.  Staying with ALFRED who is lying in the hospital here.  He is suffering very servere pain & very hot fever.  He seems cheerful but eats little.  Perhaps that is best.  Your PA came here to-day.  He saw CAROLINE*  yesterday, all is well with her.  And VONY** is no worst  than when THOMAS left home.  She had a bad coffing spell a while back, when the weather was wet.  THOMAS  you may rely on what I tell you.  I heard THOMAS  was in the hospital, which almost deranged me.  I think sometimes my trails are greater than I can bear.  Still  I hope sufficient Grace will be provided me to fill my mission on earth, and that I may account all my trials and privations as nothing compaired with the glory, the blessedness of the life to come.

                                  My dear children I long to see you, but I try to be patient and prepare for all events.  JAMES, THOMAS,  be assured I will be mother to your wives and children in your absence.  I saw ALBERT today, his daughter is still sick with little improvement in her health.  He left home last night, ate his breakfast at HOUSER's and came in here at eight o'clock.  EDWARD *** is far from being well, he will hardly ever be able for duty thought he may be.

                                   Since I have been at the hospital there has been 4 Yankees died.  I think one of our soldiers will die and three or four more Federals.  There was 7 Yankees brought here last evening, I suppose taken near Franklin.  The news here today is, ( or I should say rumor) that GEN. MORGAN has made another grand haul on the Federals, somewhere on the Lousiville road - among the spoil is over a million of green backs.  I heart it is confirmed that GEN. MARSHALL captured a whole regiment or Brigade.  I have forgottn which.  And the notorious outlaw CARTER of Carter County and all his bridge burners with him were taken.

                                   My dear ones write as often as you can to your old mother and try to cheer my lonely pathway while I am left at home no one of my children to sit by my hearth, or enliven my disquietude.  Write soon and tell me THOMAS is well.  All the friends other than I named are in usual health.

                                   Having little else to tell you I will close by commending you to God.  Hoping by His wise providence He will guard you in the paths of safety, guard you in the hour of danger, shield you in the day of battle, Crown you wtih Victory and Peace, and grant you a safe passport home, a happy meeting with all the loved ones of home.  And when all shall have finished their course, O may we meet undivided - no member missing in the realms of eternal pease and love.  Where our Covenant God shall wipe all tears from our faces, and there shall be no more death, neigther sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, yes where the God of love and Mercy shall be our God forever.

                                    Your PA joins me in sending our love to both.  So does ALFRED.  I add no more but remain you ever devoted
                                                                                Mother
         
                                                                                  Catherine Cooper

*  Caroline, wife of James Carlisle Cooper (Caroline and J.C. Cooper are buried at Hunter Cemetery, Mt. Pleasant, Maury Co., Tn.  mbmcr)

**  Vony,  Lavonia, wife of Thomas Simpson Cooper (note:  Lavonia was the daughter of Wm. T. McClain; buried at McClain's Cemetery on the Mt. Joy Road  in Lewis Co., Tn. approx. 1/4 mile from the Maury Co. line.; Thomas Simpson Cooper is buried at Zion Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Columbia, Maury Co., Tn. mbmcr.)

***  Edward (Charles Edward) Houser, husband of Catherine's daughter, Eleanor Jane Cooper. (Edward Houser is buried at Zion Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Columbia, Maury Co., Tn. where Eleanor J. Cooper Houser is also buried. mbmcr)

Letter from Elinor Jane Barr, daughter of Sarah (Cooper) and Hugh Barr to her cousins Leonard (note: Leander mbmc) Bruce Cooper, John Hall Cooper, and her second cousin Thomas Melville Cooper.

Louis Co  Tenn  Nov 20th 1861

Dear Cousins LB Cooper, Tho M. Cooper and John H. Cooper

          I avail myself of this oppertunity of addressing you a few lines to let you know that I am in the enjoyment of health and happiness.
         Ma and all send there love to you all three and we hope you are in the enjoyment of good health.
         I am at your Father's fireside to night O BRUCE how I think of you and wish I could see you.  When I look round your place is vacant but I hope you are enjoying your selves in camp this beautiful night and I hope you will sometimes think of your friend at home that think of you often.
         Give my love to COUSIN JAS O C. and tell him I will be happy to receive a letter from him and read how he enjoys himself.  You must tell all three write to me if you can find an idle time.  I will be so gald to read your letters.  I have been enjoying the pleasure of reading some of your letters to others and it will be a still greater pleasure to read them of your own. 
          I must now tell you of the wedding that will be to morrow.  GEO IRWIN to MISS MARY F. TANDERSLEY and JACK JUNE to MISS SALLIE GIBSON.           (note:  the name may be Jack Lane we could not read it well)
          Good night boys may happy dreams attend you and may the Lord gaurd is my prayer.
                                       from your affectionat Cousin,
                                                                                                Elinor J Barr

Write soon.

          Your Ma sends her love to you all.  She says for me to tell you she believes that she had three of her ribs broken when she got so bad hurt and they still hurt her verry much to day.
          She is as well as common.
                                                                                                    E J Barr

COUSIN THEODORE  you must also except my (word omitted) tho you are far a way.  I can still see you in immeagen.  You will please me verry much if you will write to me.  We often think and talk of you and wish and pray for peace that you may all return home again -
            Boys please tell MARTIN not to grieve for MISS SALLIE to much do go and set up with him if he weeps.
            BRUCE COUSIN MOLLIE and me still look for them rings -- for I know you have killed a Yankee by this time or your likeness will do me as well
                                                                                                         E J Barr

Camp near Bowling Green, Ky.
October 29th 1861

Pap & Ma  (note:  Robert M. and Catherine Cooper.  mbmcr)
          As MR. COFFMAN is going home on tomorrow & will pass your house I will just say to you that we are all well & we have not had the good luck to get into an engagement yet.  We are still building fortifications.  We have five in course of construction - will get some of them done by the last of next week, four of them are small, intended only for flanking.  There will be from three to five cannons mounted on the small ones & when they are finished, I dont think LINCOLN's whole Army could take this place with what are here.  The timber is being cut down for miles around & the advantages we have here makes the place invincible.  There was three Regiments come back from the Green River on yesterday, for what purpose I cant say without it is to get REAUSAW to make an attack here, but there a thousand & one conjectures about it & not one of us small fry officers know anything in regard to future movements.  GENLS, JOHNSTON, BUCKNER, HARDEE & HINDMAN are all here with COL. BROWN commanding the lst Tennessee Brigade.  G.A. STRONG - probability of his being promoted.  The whole Brigade has petitioned PRESIDENT DAVIS to promote him.  GENLS. JOHNSTON & BUCKNER have both recommeded him to DAVIS.  So I guess there will be no difficulty in him getting the appointment.  JOHN C. BRECKENRIDGE has made application for the appointment, but I don't want him.  He said in his address to the people of Kentucky that he was willing to shoulder his musket & go to the tented field, but now wants to hold both bowers & the Ace.  I want a Tennessean over me if we have to fight in Kentucky's battles, let us have all the trumps.  COL. BROWN has every quality for making a good General.  I used to be proud to hear Kentucky's name linked with Tennessee as the two game-cocks of the world, but now it is a slander for she has acted cowardly from the beginning, it cant be policy, if so, there would be more recruiting than is going on here, it is trying on a man's nerve to go up town to see young men, hale & hearty, with kid gloves & a black cane strutting like "goblers" in the spring here in Bowling Green where they ought at least to be three Companies, there is only about forty & very uncertain whether that number will be increased.
          GEN. BUCKNER has been drilling us for a few days in Brigade, which is a very pretty drill.  Some conjecture by him drilling us is fixing us for a movement of some kind.   He gives the praise to our Regiment, as the best he ever saw, says that we are as well drilled as Regulars.  As to the little skirmishes that our men have had in Kentucky, I refer you to the newspapers, enough to say that our Regiment have had none.
          JEFF DAVIS has not sent his Iron Box around here as yet & I am cleaned strapped in money matters, everybody is wishing for pay day to come.
          If you see JACK SIMS tell him that GEORGE is fat & well pleased, the boys are all in good health.  ELIAS FITE is going about some.  I am trying to get LIEUT. PLUMMER off to Lewis to bring in all the sick.  If they are not able for duty, they must come in & be examined by our Surgeon & get discharges.  They cant be discharged until the Surgeon here has examined them.  I have succeeded in getting a discharge for JOHN S. DAVIS.  PLUMMER will bring back any recruits that may wish to join.  I have permission to fill out my Company.  PLUMMER may get off about Thursday & will remain only four days & if there are any recruits that wish to come back with him tell them to begin preparations.  I don't want any more such as BOGUS.  I want only good ones.
          Let us hear from home as soon as you can as we are eager to hear how MA has got.  I learned with sorrow of the hurt she received.  Give my best wishes to all & tell them it is much easier for all them to write me than for me to write to all them, when one letter will answer for all.  I have no time to write only of nights.
Your son,
R.T. Cooper

N.B.  Send word to Jessie if you can how we are I will not write to her until CHRISTIAN goes home which will be in a few days.  I wish if you have corn to fatten the hogs I bouth from MOLLIE, to do it or get SAMMY to buy some for me.
Excuse handwriting.  The night is very cool & my fingers numb.
                 R.T. Cooper

Letter of the California Gold Rush Days  1849-1852


Santa Fe, New Mexico, May 24, 1849

Col. R. M. Cooper
Mt. Pleasant, Tenn.

Dear Father,
                    I suppose you have a synopsis of our travels up the Little River.  We left there on the 16th of April with 30 men under CAPT. SHAW of Kentucky with the intention of following up it three times to avoid the bends.  We had plenty of water and grass most of the way, though the water was sometimes brackish.....We came into the buffalo about 300 miles from Fort Smith and traveled three days in them.  Where they were so thick we had to send out advance guards to scatter them so that our mules could pass through.  You may think this is a hard yarn, but it is a matter of fact.  We were not interrupted by the Indians at all, though we were alarmed at one time.  We were marching along quietly when we went into a body of 1,000 or 1,500 Comanches.  They were packing up to leave and we halted in the midst of them and marched with them four or five miles...
                                               JAMES C. COOPER

 

Reference: 

Roberts, Lilliam Lesbis Word Hugh Cooper  1720-1798  Fishing Creek So. Carolina and His Decendants    Dallas, Texas McMillan Publishing Co., 1976.

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