The Civil War Memoirs of Samuel Alonza Cooke
EDITED BY BILL O'NEAL*
THE FOLLOWING DOCUMENT IS AN AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH WRIT-
ten by Samuel Alonza Cooke in 1907, recounting his experiences
during the Civil War. He was a Confederate volunteer, and his
memoirs relate his participation in the battles of Vicksburg, Lookout
Mountain, Chickamauga, Atlanta, and Franklin, among other cam-
paigns. His reminiscences provide interesting insights into the atti-
tudes of Confederate soldiers, as well as details of a number of famous
Civil War operations.
Cooke was born on January 1, 1840, in Maury County, Tennessee.
When he was eight his family moved to the Texas-Louisiana border,
settling 41/2 miles south of Caddo Lake. His mother soon fell into
ill health, however, and in 1849 the family returned to Tennessee.
In 1851 Cooke's mother and eldest sister died, and the remainder of
the family again moved south. They first located on a farm some
eight miles southwest of Mooringsport, Louisiana, and eventually
crossed into Texas. In 1859 Cooke's father and uncle opened a mer-
cantile business in Elysian Fields, west of Shreveport and about
nine miles into Texas.'
Cooke and his older brother were provided with as good an edu-
cation as possible. After receiving such local schooling as was avail-
able, they were sent to the McKinney Institute near Clarksville,
Texas, and later attended a similar institution in Longwood, Louisi-
ana. At about this time Cooke's father remarried, much to his
son's displeasure; and, in 1857, Cooke ran away from home. After
spending several months near Dallas, Cooke was persuaded by his
father to pursue his education at Jackson College in Columbia, Ten-
nessee, a short distance from his birthplace. Upon arrival, however,
*Mr. O'Neal is with the History Department of Panola Junior College, Carthage, Texas.
These memoirs are published by permission of Lee Cooke, descendant of Samuel Alonza
Cooke, who made the material available to the editor. The original manuscript, which
bears the title, "Autobiography of Samuel Alonza Cooke, Concerning His Experiences
in the Civil War of the United States (1861-1865), Written at the Request of His
Children," is in the possession of C. F. Cooke, Waskom, Texas. Minor changes have been
made in punctuation to facilitate reading.
1The introductory biographical information is drawn from sections of this manuscript
which are not included in this publication.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101200/. Accessed February 5, 2016.