John Cook Edit Profile
Mother d. of Governor Ninian Edwards of Illinois. Educated Illinois College.
He served in the Western Theater and played a prominent role in securing the Union victory at the Battle of Fort Donelson, helping to force the surrender of the defenders. Cook received a good education and entered the practice of law. He was elected mayor of Springfield, Illinois, in 1855.
Cook was the captain and commander of a military company called the Springfield Grays. He also served as quartermaster general of the Illinois militia. During the early days of , Cook's militia company enlisted in Federal service in April 1861.
They formed the nucleus of Company I of the 7th Illinois Volunteer Regiment, of which Cook was appointed colonel. At the Battle of Fort Donelson, he commanded the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, District of Cairo, Department of the Missouri. During the Confederate breakout attempt on February 15, General Ulysses S. Grant concluded the Confederates must have weakened the opposite flank to reinforce their assault.
This weakened sector lay across from the Federal brigades of Cook and Jacob G. Lauman. Lauman's brigade was intended as the main thrust while Cook's brigade would make a feint to draw away fire. Cook's troops nevertheless managed to capture a key Confederate artillery battery, which paved the way for the subsequent collapse of the defensive line in his sector.
After the battle he was promoted to brigadier general of volunteers on March 22, 1862, with Senate confirmation on March 24, 1862, to rank from March 21, 1862. Cook remained in command of his brigade for a short time after Fort Donelson. Though still a colonel he was assigned to command the 6th Division in the Army of the Tennessee.
This commanded was promptly turned over to Brig. Gen. Benjamin M. Prentiss who would lead the division with some notoriety at Shiloh. Cook meanwhile was transferred to brigade command in the Washington defenses.
Cook later oversaw the military Department of Iowa and Dakota Territory. In the winter of 1862–63, he organized a campaign against the Sioux Nation, with Sioux City, Iowa, as his base of operations. In the spring of 1863, he was relieved by Brig.
Gen. Alfred Sully. In November 1864, he was assigned command of the military District of Illinois, replacing Eleazar Paine, who had resigned the position. Cook was mustered out of the volunteers on August 24, 1865. On January 13, 1866, President Andrew Johnson nominated Cook for appointment to the brevet grade of major general, to rank from August 24, 1865, and the U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination on March 12, 1866.
Following the war, Cook returned home and was elected as Sangamon County's representative in the Illinois General Assembly, in 1869, as a Republican. Cook died in his home near Ransom, Michigan, in 1910, and is interred at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois. Eicher, John H., and Eicher, David J., High Commands, Stanford University Press, 2001.
Gott, Kendall D. Where the South Lost the War: An Analysis of the Fort Henry—Fort Donelson Campaign, February 1862. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 2003.
Member Illinois legislature, 1868.
Married Susan A. Lamb, October 20, 1847.