Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb

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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.

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.

Battle of Fredericksburg Major battle of the American Civil War

The Battle of Fredericksburg was fought December 11–15, 1862, in and around Fredericksburg, Virginia, in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War. The combat, between the Union Army of the Potomac commanded by Major General Ambrose Burnside and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee, was part of the Union Army's futile frontal attacks on December 13 against entrenched Confederate defenders on the heights behind the city. It is remembered as one of the most one-sided battles of the war, with Union casualties more than twice as heavy as those suffered by the Confederates. A visitor to the battlefield described the battle to U.S. President Abraham Lincoln as a "butchery."

American Civil War Internal war in the U.S. over slavery

The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North and the South. The Civil War began primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people. War broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North, which also included some geographically western and southern states, proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights in order to uphold slavery.


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.

Jefferson County, Georgia U.S. county in Georgia

Jefferson County is a county located in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 16,930. The county seat is Louisville. The county was created on February 20, 1796 and named for Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States.

Georgia (U.S. state) U.S. state in the United States

Georgia is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. Georgia is the 24th largest in area and 8th-most populous of the 50 United States. Georgia is bordered to the north by Tennessee and North Carolina, to the northeast by South Carolina, to the southeast by the Atlantic Ocean, to the south by Florida, and to the west by Alabama. Atlanta, a "beta(+)" global city, is both the state's capital and largest city. The Atlanta metropolitan area, with an estimated population of 5,949,951 in 2018, is the 9th most populous metropolitan area in the United States and contains about 60% of the entire state population.

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).

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]

Supreme Court of Georgia (U.S. state) American court

The Supreme Court of Georgia is the highest judicial authority of the U.S. state of Georgia. The court was established in 1845 as a three-member panel. Since 1896, the justices have been elected by the people of the state. The justices are currently elected in statewide non-partisan elections for six-year terms, with any vacancies filled through an appointment by the Governor.

Joseph Henry Lumpkin was the first chief justice of the Supreme Court of the U.S. state of Georgia.

Henry R. Jackson Confederate Army general

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

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:

Secession is the withdrawal of a group from a larger entity, especially a political entity, but also from any organization, union or military alliance. Threats of secession can be a strategy for achieving more limited goals. It is, therefore, a process, which commences once a group proclaims the act of secession. It could involve a violent or peaceful process but these do not change the nature of the outcome, which is the creation of a new state or entity independent from the group or territory it seceded from.

[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. "Thomas Cobb and the Codification of Georgia Law". The Georgia Historical Quarterly. pp. 9–23. Retrieved October 12, 2019.Unknown parameter |Vol= ignored (|volume= suggested) (help)
  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

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

Position abolished