The Union general who pushed the Confederates out of the Kanawha Valley in what is today West Virginia was a relatively unknown Canadian by the name of Jacob Dolson Cox. Unlike many Civil War generals, Cox was not reared under the tutelage of West Point. He graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio with a theology degree.
His interest in the great books led him to read about war tactics from some of the world’s masters. When the war broke out, he entered the Kanawha Brigade of the Department of the Ohio, serving under General George B. McClellan. It was General Cox and his Kanawha Division were largely responsible for actions throughout the Kanawha Valley repelling multiple attacks throughout 1861 and 1862 that eventually swept the area free of the Confederate army.
Cox had various leadership positions throughout the war, including serving as commander of the IX Corp in the Union Army following the death of Jessie Reno at the Battle of South Mountain. He attained the rank of Major General and participated in battles including the battles of Antietam and Franklin.
Cox served as Governor of Ohio after the war and then was named Secretary of the Interior during the administration of President Grant.
He authored many books about his Civil War experiences including “The March to the Sea”, “Atlanta”, “The Battle of Franklin” and “Military Reminiscences of the Civil War Volumes I and II.” A new book on Cox’s life has just been published by Eugene D. Schmiel called “Citizen-General: Jacob Dolson Cox and the Civil War Era.”
Cox died in 1900 and is buried in Cincinnati, OH.
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