Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb

Last updated

Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb
T. R. R. Cobb.jpg
T. R. R. Cobb by Horace James Bradley
Deputy from Georgia
to the Provisional Congress
of the Confederate States
In office
February 8, 1861 February 17, 1862
Preceded byNew creation
Succeeded byPosition abolished
Personal details
Born(1823-04-10)April 10, 1823
Jefferson County, Georgia
DiedDecember 13, 1862(1862-12-13) (aged 39)
Fredericksburg, Virginia
Relations Howell Cobb (brother)
Alma mater Franklin College
Military service
AllegianceFlag of the Confederate States of America (1861-1863).svg  Confederate States
Branch/serviceBattle flag of the Confederate States of America.svg  Confederate States Army
Years of service1861–1862
Rank Brigadier General
Commands Cobb's Legion
Cobb's Brigade
Battles/wars American Civil War

Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb (April 10, 1823 – December 13, 1862) was an American slave owner, [1] lawyer, author, politician, and Confederate States Army officer, killed in the Battle of Fredericksburg during the American Civil War. He is the brother of noted Confederate statesman Howell Cobb.


Early life, education and marriage

Cobb was born in 1823 in Jefferson County, Georgia, to John A. Cobb and Sarah (Rootes) Cobb. He was the younger brother of Howell Cobb. Cobb graduated in 1841 from Franklin College [2] (present-day University of Georgia), where he was a member of the Phi Kappa Literary Society. He was admitted to the bar in 1842.

He married Marion Lumpkin, who was the daughter of the Supreme Court of Georgia Chief Justice Joseph Henry Lumpkin and his wife. Only three of their children lived past childhood: Callender (Callie), who married Augustus Longstreet Hull; Sarah A. (Sally), who married Henry Jackson, the son of Henry Rootes Jackson; and Marion (Birdie), who married Michael Hoke Smith. The Lucy Cobb Institute, which he founded, was named for a daughter who died shortly before the school opened. His niece Mildred Lewis Rutherford served the school for over forty years in various capacities. [3]

Political career

From 1849 to 1857, he was a reporter of the Supreme Court of Georgia. He was an ardent secessionist, and was a delegate to the Secession Convention. He is best known for his treatise on the law of slavery titled An Inquiry into the Law of Negro Slavery in the United States of America (1858), a passage of which reads:

[T]his inquiry into the physical, mental, and moral development of the negro race seems to point them clearly, as peculiarly fitted for a laborious class. The physical frame is capable of great and long-continued exertion. Their mental capacity renders them incapable of successful self-development, and yet adapts them for the direction of the wiser race. Their moral character renders them happy, peaceful, contented and cheerful in a status that would break the spirit and destroy the energies of the Caucasian or the native American. [4]

Cobb's Inquiry represented the capstone of proslavery legal thought and has been called one of the most comprehensive American proslavery treatise. [5] It drew together examples from world history of slavery, which he used to argue that slavery was close to ubiquitous in human history and thus natural. He also drew on evidence of slavery's economic necessity and on then popular ideas of "science," which supported white supremacy and slavery. [6]

Cobb was also one of the founders of the University of Georgia School of Law, and served on the first Georgia code commission of 1858 and drafted what became the private, penal, and civil law portions of the Georgia Code of 1861, which was the first successfully enacted attempt at a comprehensive codification of the common law anywhere in the United States. [7] It is the ancestor of today's Official Code of Georgia Annotated. Simultaneously, the Northern law reformer David Dudley Field II was independently working in the same ambitious direction of trying to codify all of the common law into a coherent civil code, but Field's proposed civil code was not actually enacted until 1866 in Dakota Territory, was belatedly enacted in 1872 in California, and was repeatedly rejected several times by his home state of New York and never enacted in that state. Unlike Field's largely race-neutral code, the original Georgia Code was strongly biased in favor of slavery and white supremacy, and even contained a presumption that blacks were prima facie slaves until proven otherwise. [8] Georgia ultimately kept the Code after the Civil War but revised it in 1867 and many more times since, to purge the racism and pro-slavery bias inherent in the original text.

Cobb served in the Confederate Congress, where for a time he was chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs. He was also on the committee that was responsible for the drafting of the Confederate constitution.

American Civil War

Cobb organized Cobb's Legion in the late summer of 1861 and was commissioned a colonel in the Confederate army on August 28, 1861. The Legion was assigned to the Army of Northern Virginia. It took heavy losses during the Maryland Campaign. He was promoted to brigadier general on November 1, 1862, but this promotion was not confirmed by the Confederate Congress. [2]

Death and legacy

At the Battle of Fredericksburg, he was mortally wounded in the thigh by a Union artillery shell that burst inside the Stephens house near the Sunken Road on Marye's Heights. He bled to death from damage to the femoral artery on December 13, 1862. [9] Some later accounts by veterans claim that the wounding was by rifle fire and that a Confederate soldier may have been responsible. [10] He is buried at Oconee Hill Cemetery in Athens, Georgia.

The T. R. R. Cobb House, where Thomas Cobb and his wife Marion lived in Athens, Ga, is now a house museum. Originally constructed across Prince Avenue from its current location, it was moved to Stone Mountain Park, Stone Mountain, Georgia, where it was partially reassembled about 1990. Stone Mountain Park had hoped to restore the house, but the project fell through. Then, it was transported back to Athens where it was reassembled and underwent an extensive restoration. The house is now an operational museum. The house is owned by the Watson-Brown Foundation.


See also


  1. "official website".
  2. 1 2 Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., Civil War High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001, ISBN   978-0-8047-3641-1., p. 592.
  3. Thomas, Frances Taliaferro; Koch, Mary Levin (2009) [1992]. A Portrait of Historic Athens & Clarke County (Second ed.). Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press. p. 130. ISBN   978-0-8203-3044-0.
  4. Morris, Thomas D., Southern Slavery and the Law, 1619–1860, University of North Carolina Press, 1996, ISBN   978-0-8078-4817-3., p. 18.
  5. Alfred L. Brophy, University, Court, and Slave: Pro-Slavery Thought in Southern Colleges and Courts and the Coming of Civil War (2016): 227-53.
  6. Alfred L. Brophy, Antislavery Women and the Origins of American Jurisprudence, Texas Law Review 94 (2015): 115, 123-25.
  7. McCash, William B (1978). "Thomas Cobb and the Codification of Georgia Law". The Georgia Historical Quarterly. 62 (1): 9–23. JSTOR   40580436.
  8. Andrew P. Morriss, "Georgia Code (1861)," in Slavery in the United States: A Social, Political, And Historical Encyclopedia, vol. 2, ed. Junius P. Rodriguez (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2007), 314-315.
  9. O'Reilly, p. 296; Eicher, p. 592.
  10. Controversies about the death of T. R. R. Cobb Archived August 22, 2006, at the Wayback Machine

Related Research Articles

Robert Toombs American politician

Robert Augustus Toombs was an American lawyer, planter, and politician from Georgia who became one of the organizers of the Confederacy and served as its first Secretary of State. He served in Jefferson Davis' cabinet as well as in the Confederate States Army, but later became one of Davis' critics. He fled the United States after the Confederate defeat, returning in 1867 after his daughter's death. He regained political power in Georgia as Congressional Reconstruction ended.

Confederate States Army Southern army in American Civil War

The Confederate States Army was the military land force of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War (1861–1865), fighting against the United States forces. On February 28, 1861, the Provisional Confederate Congress established a provisional volunteer army and gave control over military operations and authority for mustering state forces and volunteers to the newly chosen Confederate president, Jefferson Davis. Davis was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, and colonel of a volunteer regiment during the Mexican–American War. He had also been a United States Senator from Mississippi and U.S. Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce. On March 1, 1861, on behalf of the Confederate government, Davis assumed control of the military situation at Charleston, South Carolina, where South Carolina state militia besieged Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, held by a small U.S. Army garrison. By March 1861, the Provisional Confederate Congress expanded the provisional forces and established a more permanent Confederate States Army.

<i>Official Code of Georgia Annotated</i> Georgia Official Code

The Official Code of Georgia Annotated or OCGA is the compendium of all laws in the U.S. state of Georgia. Like other U.S. state codes, its legal interpretation is subject to the United States Constitution, the United States Code, the Code of Federal Regulations, and the state's constitution. It is to the state what the United States Code (U.S.C.) is to the federal government.

George W. Randolph Confederate Army general, grandson of Thomas Jefferson

George Wythe Randolph was a lawyer, planter, and Confederate general. He served for eight months in 1862 as the Confederate States Secretary of War during the American Civil War. He reformed procurement, wrote the conscription law, and strengthened western defenses. He was President Thomas Jefferson's youngest grandson by his daughter Martha Jefferson Randolph.

Howell Cobb American politician

Howell Cobb was an American political figure. A southern Democrat, Cobb was a five-term member of the United States House of Representatives and Speaker of the House from 1849 to 1851. He also served as the 40th Governor of Georgia (1851–1853) and as a Secretary of the Treasury under President James Buchanan (1857–1860).

Henry R. Jackson Confederate Army general

Henry Rootes Jackson was a major general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.

Paul Jones Semmes American general

Paul Jones Semmes was a banker, businessman, and a Confederate brigadier general in the American Civil War, mortally wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Henry L. Benning Confederate Army general

Henry Lewis Benning was a general in the Confederate States Army. He also was a lawyer, legislator, and judge on the Georgia Supreme Court. He commanded the "Benning's Brigade" during the American Civil War. Following the Confederacy's defeat at the end of the war, he returned to his native Georgia, where he lived out the rest of his life. Fort Benning, Georgia, home of the Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCoE) is named after him.

Luther Glenn Confederate Army officer

Luther Judson Glenn was a prominent Georgia lawyer, politician, Confederate officer during the American Civil War, and antebellum Mayor of Atlanta.

Seth Barton Confederate Army general

Seth Maxwell Barton was a United States Army officer and, then, a Brigadier–General in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He later became noted as a chemist.

William M. Browne Confederate Army general

William Montague Browne was a prominent Irish-born American politician and newsman. During the American Civil War, he served as Acting Secretary of State for the Confederacy in 1862 and as a temporary brigadier general in the Confederate States Army. When he was not confirmed to that rank by the Confederate Senate, he reverted to his permanent grade of colonel.

Goode Bryan Confederate Army general

Goode Bryan was a planter, politician, military officer, and American Civil War general in the Confederate States Army. His brigade played a prominent role during the Battle of the Wilderness, fighting stubbornly until exhausting its ammunition.

Pierce M. B. Young Confederate Army general

Pierce Manning Butler Young was a Major General in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War and a post-war politician, diplomat, and four-term United States Congressman from Georgia.

Cobb's Legion was an American Civil War unit that was raised on the Confederate side from the State of Georgia by Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb during the summer of 1861. A "legion" consisted of a single integrated command, with individual components from the infantry, cavalry, and artillery. When it was originally raised, the Georgia Legion comprised seven infantry companies, four cavalry troops, and a single battery. The concept of a multiple-branch unit was fine in theory, but never was a practical application for Civil War armies and, early in the war, the individual elements were assigned to other organizations.

William T. Wofford Confederate Army general

William Tatum Wofford was an officer during the Mexican–American War and a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War.

George T. Anderson Confederate Army general

George Thomas Anderson was a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. Nicknamed "Tige," Anderson was noted as one of Robert E. Lee's hardest-fighting subordinates.

The Civil Code of California is a collection of statutes for the State of California. The code is made up of statutes which govern the general obligations and rights of persons within the jurisdiction of California. It was based on a civil code originally prepared by David Dudley Field II for the state of New York. It is one of the 29 California Codes and was among the first four enacted in 1872.

Mildred Lewis Rutherford educator, author, historian general of the United Daughters of the Confederacy

Mildred Lewis "Miss Millie" Rutherford was a prominent educator and author from Athens, Georgia. She served the Lucy Cobb Institute, as its head and in other capacities, for over forty years, and oversaw the addition of the Seney-Stovall Chapel to the school. Heavily involved in many organizations, she became the historian general of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC), and a speech given for the UDC was the first by a woman to be recorded in the Congressional Record. She was a prolific non-fiction writer. Also known for her oratory, Rutherford was distinctive in dressing as a southern belle for her speeches. She held strong pro-Confederacy, proslavery views and opposed women's suffrage.

James P. Simms Confederate States Army brigadier general

James Phillip Simms was a Confederate States Army brigadier general during the American Civil War. He was a lawyer in Covington, Georgia before and after the war. He served two non-consecutive terms in the Georgia legislature after the war.


Political offices
New creation Deputy from Georgia to the
Provisional Congress of the Confederate States

Position abolished