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Edward Moody McCook (June 15, 1833 – September 9, 1909) was a lawyer, politician, distinguished Union cavalry general in the American Civil War, Americanmarker diplomat, and Governor of the Territory of Colorado. He was a member of the famed "Fighting McCook" family of Ohiomarker. Four of his brothers and ten of his first cousins served as officers, with six of the family members becoming generals before the end of the war.

Early life and career

McCook was born in Steubenville, Ohiomarker. He moved to Colorado in 1848 and then to the Kansas Territory in 1849, where he became a lawyer and a Kansas legislator, serving in the territorial House of Representatives in 1859. He was among the first white settlers in the Pikes Peakmarker region.

Civil War

With the onset of the Civil War, McCook traveled to Washington, D.C.marker and served for a time as a secret agent for the Federal government, gathering information of value to the military. He then enlisted as a cavalry lieutenant in the regular army. He then joined the volunteer army as a captain in the 2nd Indiana Volunteer Cavalry, rising to the rank of colonel by the middle of 1862. McCook commanded a cavalry brigade at the Battle of Perryvillemarker, and a division at Chickamaugamarker.

On April 27, 1864, he was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers and given command of the First Cavalry Division in the Army of the Cumberland. His 3,600 cavalrymen raided and severed the Macon & Western Railroad in late July 1864 while serving under George Stoneman during the Atlanta Campaignmarker. One of his goals was to release the 32,000 prisoners of war being held in the Andersonville Prisonmarker. However, as they tried to return to the main army on July 30, McCook was thoroughly defeated by Confederate cavalry under Joseph Wheeler at the Battle of Brown's Mill near Newnan, Georgiamarker, losing 950 men, 1,200 horses, and two pieces of artillery. During Stoneman's raid, McCook gained a reputation for condoning and encouraging the destruction of civilian property. McCook and his remaining cavalry marched to Tennesseemarker to assist George H. Thomas's efforts to stymie the Confederates under John Bell Hood. He served with distinction in the Franklin-Nashville Campaign.

In March and April 1865, as the war near its close, McCook commanded the First Division in Wilson's Raid through Alabamamarker and Georgiamarker, as well as at the Battle of Selma, where the Federal cavalry dealt a crushing defeat upon Nathan Bedford Forrest. In early May, McCook's division was assigned to re-establish Federal control and authority in Floridamarker, whose ardent secessionist governor, John Milton, had shot himself in the head rather than submit to Union occupation. On May 13, Col. George Washington Scott surrendered the last active Confederate troops in the state to McCook. On May 20, General McCook read Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation during a ceremony in Tallahasseemarker, officially ending slavery in Florida. That same day, his jubilant troopers raised the U.S. flag over the state capitol.

McCook reached the rank of brevet major general in the volunteers by the end of the war, and received the official praise of his superior, James H. Wilson. While not a professionally trained soldier, McCook was efficient and brave. He received a total of five brevet promotions in the Civil War, all for gallantry and meritorious service.

Postbellum career

He returned to the regular army when his volunteers were mustered out following the war. In 1866, McCook resigned from the army and returned to civilian life. President Andrew Johnson appointed McCook to serve as the U.S. Minister to the Kingdom of Hawaii (1866–69). In 1869, he helped organize the Colorado Territory and was twice appointed governor by President Grant, a selection bitterly opposed by U.S. Congressman Jerome B. Chaffee. During his tenure, Governor McCook signed the legislation that created what is now Colorado State Universitymarker and was among the first state governors to endorse women's suffrage. He was a member of the Republican National Committee in 1872.

McCook left the governorship when his second term expired in 1875 and turned to various business pursuits. He became very wealthy from numerous shrewd investments in real estate, mining interests, and in new European telephone companies. For a time, he paid more income and business taxes than any man in Colorado.

McCook died in Chicago, Illinoismarker, and is buried in Union Cemetery in Steubenville. The city of McCook, Nebraskamarker was named in his honor.

See also

Further reading

  • Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8047-3641-3.
  • Warner, Ezra J., Generals in Blue: Lives of the Union Commanders, Louisiana State University Press, 1964, ISBN 0-8071-0822-7.

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