Nesbitt Memorial Library

Material Concerning Richard V. Cook and the Battle of Sabine Pass

Material Concerning Richard V. Cook,
Captain of Company D, 21st Texas Infantry,
and the Battle of Sabine Pass

Compiled by Ernest Mae Seaholm and Bill Stein

    At six o'clock on the morning of September 8, 1863, Captain Richard V. Cook notified his commander, Commodore Leon Smith, that he had received a dispatch from Captain Frederick H. Odlum, commander of the Confederate forces at the Sabine Pass, stating that nine Yankee vessels were threatening the fort which guarded the pass. Cook, who had been practicing law in Columbus since 1856, had received his commission on March 22, 1862 and raised a company of infantry in his home town.
    Immediately upon receipt of Odlum's message, Smith sent Cook and Captain Charles Bickley to the relief of the fort and fired off a dispatch to his own commander chastising Cook for his laxness in dealing with Odlum's call for assistance. After the battle was won, Smith and Odlum both referred to Cook's participation in the battle in mildly laudatory terms.
    An Irish bartender from Houston named Dick Dowling, who was in command of the Confederate batteries at the fort, almost instantly became a great Texas hero. Many years later, in attempts to reflect some of the glory on Captain Cook, one or two of the men who served under him that day wrote three reminiscences of the battle. The first, which appeared in the Weimar Mercury on May 2, 1891, is signed merely "Old Soldier." The second and third, from the Mercurys of October 30, 1897 and December 27, 1902 respectively, are by Benjamin F. Mitchell. These three reminiscences have been reproduced herein in their entirety.
    In addition, the editors have included another reminiscence of the battle by John Marshall Carson, who served as a private under Captain Cook, and a letter written by Captain Cook shortly after the battle which gives details of a mild revolt by a militia unit. Carson's reminiscence, dated September 8, 1909, was addressed to editor of the Dallas Semi-Weekly News. Curiously, neither it nor his cover letter to his daughter mention Cook.


1. A Little Reminiscence of the Confederate War by "Old Soldier," originally printed in Weimar Mercury, May 2, 1891

    The Neches and Sabine rivers empty into the Sabine lake about the same place, eight or ten miles from the main coast. Sabine Pass is situated about three miles from the coast, on the lake. Fort Griffin is three quarters of a mile nearer the coast.
    About the year 1864 there was but one company, mostly Irishmen, stationed at Fort Griffin, one young man, Dick Dowling, in command—"as brave a lad as e'er commission bore, all brightly shone his new steel sabre, a captain's cap he wore." The blockading fleet lying out was immense. One Taylor, a citizen of the Pass, deserted his colors, for some reason, went straight out to the Yankee fleet and informed them of the weakness of the fort, which had but two smooth bore cast guns, carrying cast balls, some wooden guns painted and stuck up for a sham. Very soon the fleet began to reinforce, and Dick Dowling suspicioned something in the air. Captain R. V. Cook's company of about 40 men was stationed at Grigsby's Bluff, say some 13 or 15 miles up the Neches river. Dowling sent a courier in haste for R. V. Cook's company, which responded, and arrived at the Pass in due time.
    The fleet was soon in readiness to storm the fort. The first gunboat to sound the channel was the Sachem, being the smallest, with seven rifle guns, well manned and equipped. The next in rotation was the old Clifton, with nine guns, (all 32 pounders) manned and equipped; after which came the old Arizona, besides others still behind, all in full speed, and firing on the fort and Pass as they ran. Dick Dowling stuck to his post, firing his two smooth-bore guns as the Sachem got fairly opposite the fort. Being considerably lower than the fort, Captain Dowling poured his cast ball in, hitting the Sachem plumb in the steam drum, which enveloped the whole vessel in steam and scalded several to death. The white flag was hoisted as soon as circumstances would admit. About the same time Dick sent a cast ball through the Clifton, breaking one arm as she was an armed vessel; and in a moment's time another cast ball struck the old Arizona, disabling her machinery to some extent, and this vessel also hoisted the white flag and backed off like a turtle off a log. The excitement being so great she soon got out of range and made her escape. About this time Captain R. V. Cook's company hove in sight on an old steamboat lined with cotton bales, which had been lying at the Pass, and took aboard three hundred and seventy-five as fine looking Yanks as you ever saw, well armed and equipped—generals, colonels, captains, etc. All handed up their sabres, guns, etc. with politeness. Some 10 or 12 of R. V. Cook's company carried the 375 prisoners to Houston by way of Beaumont. The Yanks asked the guards where were the soldiers? I told them bravely that we had only about 6000 cavalrymen out in the timber close by. That reconciled them. They could have taken our guns away from us, thrashed us and sent us home. Nothing like being brave, if you are a little scared. Don't you forget that when we hoisted those rifled guns from the Clifton and Sachem and placed them on our fort—shooting accurately four or five miles—the Yanks looked "a leedle oudt!"
    I send you the names of all I can recollect of Captain Cook's company: R. V. Cook, captain; R. W. Putney, 1st lieutenant; Thad. Wright, 2nd lieutenant; Harvey McKinley, 3rd lieutenant; John Carter, John Carson, Buck Perry, J. H. Mullin, Benj. F. Mitchell, Ed. Obenchain, John Eggleson, Steve Connor, A. [Alexander] Besch, Peter Brinkley, Mat. [Madison W.] Townsend, two Rose boys, two Walker boys [Littleton C. Walker and George W. Walker], A. [Amos T.] Goodhue, W. Butterworth, Thos. Harris, James Burns [Byrne], Zuller, [William] Scott, Ligons, John Adkins.

2. At Sabine Pass, by Benjamin F. Mitchell, originally printed in Weimar Mercury, October 30, 1897

    I recently saw a statement of Judge [John H.] Reagan in the Houston Post, giving the Irish their dues for valor and bravery in the United States and their victory at Sabine Pass. Judge Reagan said his informant was a federal soldier on board the federal fleet, who said there were two companies at Sabine Pass, one consisting of artillery, the other consisting of cavalry.
    There was but one company at the Pass, consisting of thirty-eight men, in command of Captain R. V. Cook of Colorado county, Texas. At Fort Griffin, some little distance below, was one company, consisting of forty-two men, principally Irish, in command of Lieutenant R. W. Dowling. Fort Griffin is three miles from the gulf, on the Sabine lake. The Pass is some little distance above that, on the same lake. I was an eye witness and a participant. On the morning of September 8th, 1863, a federal fleet consisting of twenty-two vessels, gun boats, men-of-war and transports, carrying 10,000 men, commenced crossing the bar into Sabine lake, which port at that time was garrisoned with only two companies, instead of three—Lieutenant Dick Dowling in command of forty-two men (artillery) at Fort Griffin, Captain R. V. Cook's company consisting of thirty-eight men (infantry). By two o'clock the same evening the federal fleet had up all steam, made a break to pass Fort Griffin and land at Sabine Pass. Captain R. V. Cook could not have accomplished much with his sharp shooters unless the vessels had passed the fort in a crippled condition. Lieutenant R. W. Dowling, seeing the situation, used a great deal of strategy. He ordered his men to lay low and keep cool. The boats were running at full speed, throwing the balls in every direction. When the Sachem, the leading vessel, got in reach of his short ranged guns, he ordered his men to their posts, which they did instanter. In less than twenty minutes they had a ball through the steam drum of the Sachem, which scalded a number of the crew to death, while the others were partially scalded. The white flag was run to the top. The Clifton, the next larger vessel, was disabled. The Arizona also had her white flag, but under the excitement she backed out of range of R. W. Dowling's guns, and made her escape with the balance of her fleeing fleet.
    Captain R. V. Cook, tall and commanding in appearance, ordered his men aboard Uncle Ben and hove up beside the Sachem. He said, "You surrender, do you?"
    The answer was "We do."
    "Hand in your arms."
    They did so instanter, and came aboard of Uncle Ben and hove beside the Clifton and did likewise. I think we had 200 living federals aboard the Uncle Ben besides guns, ammunition, etc. Then hove up the pass, delivered the arms and ammunition at the Pass. Lieutenant R. W. Putney in command, with eight guards, carried the federal soldiers to Beaumont, thence to Houston. Lieutenant R. W. Dowling, a blushing lad of 19 summers, and his forty-one men certainly deserve to be remembered by history for their unflinching bravery and strategic movements. They buckled to 10,000 federals, men of war, gun boats and transports and lost not a single man.

3. A Reminiscence of the Battle of Sabine Pass, by Benjamin F. Mitchell, originally printed in Weimar Mercury, December 27, 1902

    I think about June 16, 1863. It occurred. I am no historian, and well that I am not, as historical events are generally flavored to suit the fancy of the writer. I think about the 16th of June, 1863, the battle came off at Sabine Pass. Lieutenant Dick Dowling in command at the fort, with forty Irishmen on the west side of Sabine Lake, two and a half or three miles from the main gulf. Sabine Pass is a few hundred yards above it. Captain R. V. Cook's company of infantry, thirty-eight men, was stationed at Grigsby's Bluff, on the Neches river, about half way between Beaumont and Sabine Pass. The morning of June 15, 1863, a courier came in from Sabine Pass stating that the blockading fleet was making ready to invade the Pass. Captain Cook and his thirty-eight men went in haste on a forced march; arrived the same day; stopped at Sabine town, a few hundred yards above the fort; found Lieutenant Dowling in readiness; the Uncle Ben, a steamboat, fronted with cotton bales, two guns on the upper deck, lying alongside the wharf. The blockading fleet and transport, consisting of about ten thousand men, made a rush about 2 o'clock June 16 for the Pass. Lieutenant Dowling acted wisely; the fleet coming in at full speed and firing rapidly at the fort and the Pass; Dowling had only a few inferior guns, so he ordered his men to lie down under the parapets. As the Sachem, the leading gunboat, got opposite the fort he ordered his men to their posts. The first shot went through the steamdrum of the Sachem, enveloping her in steam and smoke, scalding several to death. She ran up the white flag. The next shot went through the machinery of the Clifton, a larger vessel, breaking her prow. Up went the white flag. The next shot went through the old Arizona, a larger vessel. Up went the white flag again, but under the excitement the Arizona backed off and got away, leaving the Sachem and Clifton stuck. Then of all the running of the fleet and transports-they left a blue streak of smoke. Captain Cook ordered his men at the Pass aboard the cotton vessel Uncle Ben, hove up by the side of the Sachem and asked, "Do you surrender?" The answer was, "We do." "Well, hand in your small arms," which was done in style. Sabers and six shooters of the finest quality, over a hundred fine-looking, well-dressed men, besides those scalded to death. Captain Cook ordered them aboard the Uncle Ben, which was done instanter. Then we hove up by the side of the Clifton and did likewise, taking in over one hundred more men, then hove back to the Pass, and unloaded arms. Then Captain Cook appointed a committee of seven to carry the soldiers to Beaumont on the Uncle Ben, thence to Houston by railroad, Lieutenant R. W. Putney in command. We had over two hundred men in our charge. When we landed in Beaumont we marched them to a church, placed them inside same, and that night had quite a congregation. In the morning we took them to Houston by railroad. Then returning to the Pass we took thirteen guns off of the Sachem and Clifton that would shoot correctly steel pointed balls three miles. We pulled the old Clifton out and loaded her with cotton. Thought we would run the blockade some dark night and land her in Cuba. Started her out one very dark night. On entering the gulf struck a sandbar and lodged her. Not wanting to leave her in the hands of the enemy, we set fire to her and left. Then came the fun!
    Captain Cook, an educated gentleman, and a fine lawyer, as brave as Julius Caesar, did a part of this with his thirty-eight men. Then say they did not participate in the battle! They were part of the machine. How would they have gotten along without us? I have never in history seen where we got any of the credit. Lieutenant Dick Dowling and his men did the shooting at the fort. Captain Cook and his men did the balance, under the fire of the enemy. With long-range guns they shot all over us and round about us, with steel-pointed thirty-six pound balls, but we lost not a single man. Captain Cook's company of infantry was from Columbus, Colorado county, Texas, and known as Company D, [William H.] Griffin's battalion, and a better set of soldiers never graced the Confederate army. Captain Cook was a high-toned gentleman, a scholar and fine lawyer, and did go in haste on a forced march, and did participate in the Dick Dowling success at Sabine Pass. I am not hankering after honors, but do know that Captain Cook's company did participate in the whole proceedings as far as they could go, stood all the dangers, more so than at the fort. We were on the wharf in full view as a target, but stood our ground and faced the enemy. I know what I am talking about. One of the thirty-eight,
    B. F. Mitchell, soldier.

4. John Marshall Carson to editor, Dallas Semi-Weekly News, September 8, 1909

Dear Sir:
    I have noticed a good many writings about the battle of Sabine Pass and a few weeks ago I saw an article from Mr. A. L. Clements, so I thought I would write a little more fully about it. On this day forty-six years ago the battle of Sabine Pass was fought. General [Nathaniel P.] Banks of the Federal Army ordered a fleet around to Sabine Pass, consisting of about six gun boats and transports carrying about five or six thousand troops. The object of the troops was to take Sabine Pass by surprise and then to march through Eastern Texas and connect with his (Banks') army in Louisiana. But Captain Odlum's company at the garrison were ready to receive them.
    As Captain Odlum was in Houston on furlough the command of the garrison fell upon First Lieutenant Dick Dowling, almost a beardless boy with thirty-two brave Irish in the fort and a detail of ten men out of Colonel W. H. Griffin's Regiment were on the steamboat Uncle Ben. I was on the Uncle Ben.
    Early in the morning the gunboat began to advance and fire on the fort, but Lieutenant Dowling held his fire until the Sachem got in good range of his guns at the fort, and at about the first fire, the gun boat Sachem was blown up by one of Dick Dowling's guns.
    The Sachem was enveloped in steam and smoke and when it died down the white flag was seen floating over her. You should have heard the yells that went up from us boys on the Uncle Ben as we were steaming under full headway for the Sachem. We soon arrived alongside the Sachem and took charge of Dowling's victory.
    The fleet was still advancing and firing on the fort. The Clifton was next in the lead, and as soon as she got in proper distance, Lieutenant Dowling fixed her by tearing off one of her propelling wheels, so she hoisted the "white flag" and we, after disarming our prisoners on the Sachem left a small detail of our men on her to take charge of them and we steamed down by the Clifton and brought our boat the Uncle Ben alongside of her, and took charge of another one of Dowling's victories, but we did not find such a horrible sight as we found on the Sachem. On it we found about thirty men scalded to death and as many more badly scalded. The doctor tried to help them and had emptied fifteen or twenty barrels of flour on the deck and after removing their clothes had them covered with it, but the poor fellows all died. My attention was attracted to one of our men, by the name of Scott, abusing one of the prisoners. I drove him away from the man, telling him how cowardly it was to abuse a prisoner. The prisoner, after Scott left, unbuckled a belt from around him with a very fine pistol, and handed it to me saying "I want to give this to you for driving that ruffian off of me." I found out that he was the engineer of the Sachem and was in a dying condition from inhaling hot steam which scalded his lungs so badly he died that night.
    The gunboats were still coming in and the next in lead was the Granite City. When she got in place where Lieutenant Dick Dowling wanted her, he turned his guns on her and disabled her and up went the white flag on her, but she did not throw out her anchor, and the tide was going out very fast, so she drifted away. The men at the fort wanted to fire on her but Dowling said "No, I could not violate the rules of warfare and fire on a white flag." So we lost her through the bravery and honor of Dowling and the cowardice of the captain of the Granite City. After drifting out of the way of Lieutenant Dowling's guns, another gun boat ran up to her and towed her out to sea.
    We then with the Uncle Ben towed the two gunboats, Sachem and Clifton, up to the wharf—and oh, what a time we had eating good things and drinking real coffee—the first we had had in a long time. We dug a long ditch, just above the Doran Hotel near the bank of the pass and buried the scalded men in one long grave or ditch, and oh my, what a fearful task it was to take hold of the scalded corpse, your hands would be full of the skin that would slip off of them.
    Night came on and we rushed the prisoners on to Beaumont on the Uncle Ben and Roebuck before they could find out that we had only forty-two soldiers at the pass, thirty-two brave Irish of Captain Odlum's company and our small detail of ten men of Colonel W. H. Griffin's regiment.
    The next morning the fleet had all disappeared except the Owasco. I suppose they feared the Uncle Ben would follow and capture them. The Owasco was the only gunboat in sight, and the name reminds me of the Light House fight near the same place. About fifty of us men secreted ourselves at the place, and stayed a day and night. The next morning Captain McDermott of the Owasco came ashore with two of three boat of soldiers and landed—advanced to the Light House. When they were within about 100 yards we charged them. Lieutenant Thad Wright and myself were in front of the charge and a running fight issued to the water's edge. We captured all except four or five who got to their boats. But Captain McDermott was killed at the water's edge. I was near him when he was killed. In fact he had surrendered to me. I should like to hear from anyone who was in the Sabine Pass fight.
    John M. Carson

5. John Marshall Carson to his daughter, Ginerva, October 2, 1909

Dear Ginerva:
    I send you a piece I wrote over a year ago and got my wife to copy it to send it to the News to publish. I have changed the dates. You will please send it to the News when you get through with it. It seems a long piece but I abbreviated it as much as possible; could have told a good many instances that occurred etc. When this fight was reported to Jeff Davis he said it was the greatest victory he had ever known in the history of warfare. You can change or embellish on this as you like before you send it to the News so you keep within the facts. This fact has not gone to history as it should. All have ignored Captain Odlum and Odlum Company, but have it Captain Dick Dowling and Dowling's Company, when Dowling was the first lieutenant of the company. Dowling deserves all the praise he gets except the official name. Dick Dowling was nothing but a little saloon keeper in Houston. I suppose a native of Houston and the Houston Post and all Houston will not allow anything to go into print that detracted anything from Dowling which is natural. I am satisfied that the Post would not publish this is the reason I sent it to the News.
    Corinne went back to college yesterday. She came home with my wife from the college and Jim stayed there; he will go to college (A. M.) this year. We have had no rain here yet. Water is getting scarce. We have plenty of drinking water in our cistern is about eight feet of water in it yet. Cotton crop here are reasonably good. I think I will make a good collections. All well and send love. Mail is here. In haste, your Papa.
    1. The Uncle Ben was a large old freight boat that run from Sabine Pass up the bay and to Beaumont and Orange and up the Sabine and Neches Rivers.
    2. The gun that disabled the Sachem was fired by the men of the fort that Lieutenant Dowling had charge of.
    3. Our regiment was ordered to Louisiana to meet General Banks and his army and I was left at Sabine Pass in charge of the post commissary with a detail of ten men (as I was commissary for our regiment). The Uncle Ben had come down with supplies; and when the fight came up I got on the Uncle Ben with the ten men and we started down to the fort to meet the enemy. We did not know anything about the approach of Burnside's fleet until it appeared at daylight off the bar at the entrance of the pass coming in to pass the fort. The fort was about one half way between the town of Sabine Pass and the mouth of the pass. We ran the Uncle Ben alongside of the Sachem and boarded her and took charge of the prisoners and boat; and a horrible sight it was to see the scalded men dead and dying, and here I found one of our men (Scott) abusing a scalded prisoner and I drew him away and told him if he did not quit abusing the man I would run a bayonet through him. Here my attention was called to some fine sharp shooter's guns at the top of the mast of the Sachem and some of our men trying to climb the rope of the ladder up to them, as they were fine guns. Several of the men had failed to get to them, as their head would get to swimming and they would come down and the Yankee prisoners would laugh at them and tell them that a land lubber could not go up that high on a ship's mast. Don Payne, who was the father of Mary Payne of Sherwood, called my attention to the guns up at the top of the mast of the Sachem and asked me if I could get them. I said "yes" and started up. It was about 100 feet to the top. They had a small rotunda built up there large enough for about four or five men with long range guns. The Yankees began to laugh at me and said I would up forty or fifty feet and come back, but I continued on to the top. Then our men raised a shout and some of the Yankees hollowed with them at my success. I got the guns and belted three or four of them to me and come back down the rope ladder with the guns, kept one and gave one to Don Payne and to John Eggleston and sent the other one home to my wife. We left a few men on the Sachem to take charge of her and then steamed down to the Clifton and took charge of her and towed her up to the wharf and then sent the Uncle Ben or Roebuck back to towed the Sachem up to the wharf. By this time it was about night and we put the prisoners on the Roebuck and Uncle Ben and sent them up to Beaumont. I think there was about 400 prisoners, you can examine the Texas History, I think it gives the number. We are all well and send love. I send the picture by this mail—Papa
    I do not like the picture; the man came along the road and stopped a few minutes and took it without any preparation. I wanted to have my whiskers and hair cut but could not as he would not wait. It was Burnside's fleet, I think you can find out in Texas history. Banks was over in Louisiana on Red River. Mr. Burnsides wanted to land a large crew at Sabine Pass and march through East Texas and Louisiana and meet Banks' army in Louisiana but the defeat at Sabine Pass failed all their plans and saved Texas and Louisiana from a devastation like Sherman made in his march to the sea through Georgia etc. Texas and Louisiana should feel under everlasting obligation to the little squad of Captain Odlum's company of thirty-two men under Lieutenant Dick Dowling and the small detail of Colonel Griffin's regiment of ten men under John Carson on the Uncle Ben who defeated a fleet of 28,000 men and drove them to sea.

6. Richard V. Cook to Eliza F. (Moore) Cook, November 11, 1863

Dearest Eliza
    Your long and very interesting letter of the 1st November came to hand today and be assured it made me very happy. It seems that you did not get my letter of October 26. I am in hopes that it may come to hand. I want you to receive that letter and to let me know when you do get it. I would have written again but we have been hearing a rumor for some time that General Smith has ordered General [John Bankhead] Magruder to take all of the old regiments and battalions in Texas and join him in Louisiana. I have been waiting to hear the truth of this before writing so that I might let you know with some certainty my future whereabouts.
    Lucket's [Philip N. Luckett's] Regiment, Griffith's [William H. Griffin's] Battalion, [Fred] Tate's Militia Battalion and the companies of artillery constitute the garrison at this post—about 1500 men in all. The enemy keep five heavy ships blockading the mouth of the Pass. They keep very quiet and I do not anticipate any future attack here. The fortifications are too strong to be taken by any except a large land force. Tate's Militia Battalion is composed of the two cavalry companies from Fayette and Colorado. They got themselves into hot water not long since by refusing to go into Louisiana. Being state troops they cannot of course be ordered out of Texas. But they were called on at Niblets Bluff to volunteer to go into Louisiana for twenty days—being assured by the Confederate authorities that they would be allowed to return to Texas at the end of that time. Colonel [Augustus] Buchel, the commander of the post, giving them his personal word of honor that they should come back in twenty days. But the "melish" refused to go. Dr. [Charles William] Tait, who was major, immediately tendered his resignation to General Magruder stating as a reason for his doing so that he would not command troops that didn't want to fight for their country. Instead of receiving Tait's resignation, Magruder appointed him a lieutenant colonel. Sam Harrington, the adjutant, also resigned. So did Dr. Bob Hicks of Columbus who was surgeon. Finally the "melish" fell out among themselves. Those who were in favor of going to Louisiana accusing those who did not of being cowards. They have raked up a fine quarrel among themselves. To make the matter worse Colonel Rainey made a speech to a large number of militia and regular troops in which he gave Tait's Battalion particular "jesse." They have been sent here to do guard and picket duty on this very unpleasant mosquito coast. They are very wrathy. They abuse and curse Tait at a most tremendous rate. Also Harrington. They charge these gentlemen with bringing them over here and other heavy offences. They say that they don't get enough to eat for themselves and horses etc. etc. etc. To us who have been long in the service all this is highly amusing. We draw them out to hear them talk. Before long they will learn to take things easy. Tait's Battalion, I am told, is the only part of the state troops that refused to go to Louisiana. Probably they were all that were called upon. Magruder will remember them and they are destined to have a hard time. Dr. Pope and Larkin Price belong to the Fayette company. I saw the boys yesterday. They all want to go home badly. Ben Breeding who is in the Colorado company says they can do more good at home and that the fighting men have all volunteered long ago. I am afraid he is right.
    If we stay here long the soldiers at the fort will be quite comfortable at the fort. When we first came down here the mud and mosquitoes were horrible. But the boys have pulled down the houses in Sabine Pass by the wholesale and hauled them out and put up a large number of huts and shanties so that there is quite a village around and near the fort. Myself and my company officers have a good tent and we have put a plank floor in it and have built a room to cook and eat in adjoining. Lieutenant Payne is my bedfellow. We have comfortable sleeping arrangements. That blanket your ma gave me is worth a vast deal to us these cold nights. We can manage to spend the winter here very comfortably if we have to stay—only the country is eaten out so completely that we have great difficulty in getting anything but beef and bread to live on. The butter I brought down received a most hearty and smiling welcome from my mess mates who had seen none for months. But it is all gone—having lasted nearly a month. Tell Caroline that her devoted "Garrison" is here. That "he is well and doing well". Fat and hearty but wants to go home badly. Sends his love etc. Henderson is here also. He is cook for the negroes and has a good easy time of it. These negroes say that their time is out—that they were only to go in for six months. I asked Major [Julius] Kellersburger [Kellersberg] about it and he said that the only way to get them sent home was by having a letter written to Captain H. B. Andrews the Chief of the Labor Department, Houston. Tell your Pa and Uncle Billy about it. Garrison was very short of bed clothes. I gave him one of my own blankets. He was very grateful—having but one of his own and the nights being very cold. He shall not suffer for anything while I am here.
    Don't let Johnny forget me. It hurts me to remember how little the child seemed to care for his father when I last saw him. I love him dearly but the poor boy looks on me as a stranger and alien. I have never been with him enough to find a place in his little heart.
    My present duties are upon a General Court Martial convened by General Magruder's order. We will be engaged some weeks. I have not been well enough to take my seat in the Court until today. I am no better of my complaint. Some days I am perfectly free of it and feel well. In a few hours afterward I have to lie down. I regret leaving home as soon as I did. Write again my dear wife, very soon and believe me affectionately and truly yours, R. V. Cook