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J. Cook

J. Cook

Federal (USA)


John Cook

(1847 - 1915)

Home State: Ohio

Command Billet: Battery bugler

Branch of Service: Artillery

Unit: 4th United States Artillery, Battery B

Before Antietam

Not yet 14 years old, giving his occupation as a laborer, he enlisted in Cincinnati as a Bugler in Battery B, 4th United States Artillery, on 7 June 1861.

On the Campaign

He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during the Battle of Antietam while serving with his battery; the medal was issued on 30 June 1894. He later described the action:

General Gibbon, our commander, had just ordered Lieutenant Stewart to take his section about one hundred yards to the right of the Hagerstown Pike, in front of two straw stacks, when he beckoned me to follow. No sooner had we unlimbered, when a column of Confederate infantry, emerging from the so called west woods, poured a volley into us, which brought fourteen or seventeen of my brave comrades to the ground. The two straw stacks offered some kind of shelter for our wounded, and it was a sickening sight to see those poor maimed, and crippled fellows, crowding on top of one another, while several, stepping but a few feet away, were hit again or killed.

Just then Captain Campbell unlimbered the other four guns to the left of Stewart, and I reported to him. He had just dismounted, when he was hit twice and his horse fell dead, with several bullets in its body. I started with the Captain to the rear and turned him over to one of the drivers. He ordered me to report to Lieutenant Stewart and tell him to take command of the battery. I reported, and, seeing the cannoneers nearly all down, and one, with a pouch full of ammunition, lying dead, I unstrapped the pouch, started for the battery and worked as a cannoneer. We were then in the vortex of the battle. The enemy had made three desperate attempts to capture us, the last time coming with in ten or fifteen feet of our guns.

It was at this time that General Gibbon, seeing the condition of the battery, came to the gun that stood in the pike, and in full uniform of a brigadier-general, worked as a gunner and cannoneer. He was very conspicuous, and it is indeed surprising, that he came away alive. At this battle we lost forty-four men, killed and wounded, and about forty horses which shows what a hard fight it was.

The rest of the War

He was discharged at the expiration of his term of service on 7 June 1864.

After the War

In 1880 he was a worker in a shoe factory in Cincinnati, OH. He went to Washington, DC in about 1887 and was an employee of the US Government Printing Office there for 20 years.

References & notes

His service and birth details from the Registers.1 The battle quotes above from Deeds of Valor,2 source also of his picture. Post war details from his obituary.3. Personal details from family genealogists and the US Census of 1880. His gravesite is on Findagrave.

He married Isabella "Belle" McBryde (1854-1916) in Cincinnati in April 1870 and they had 4 children.

More on the Web

A copy of the original source photograph which was reproduced in Deeds of Valor was posted online by the US Army Adjutant General's Corps Regimental Association.


08/16/1847; Cincinnati, OH


08/03/1915; Washington, DC; burial in Arlington National Cemetery, VA


1   US Army, Registers of Enlistments in the United States Army, 1798-1914, Washington, DC: National Archives, 1956, Vol. 141, pg. 129  [AotW citation 25827]

2   Beyer, Walter F., and Oscar F. Keydel, compilers, Deeds of Valor: How America's Heroes Won the Medal of Honor , Detroit: The Perrien-Keydel Company, 1901, pp. 75-76  [AotW citation 384]

3   [staff writer], Obituary: John Cook, Government Printing Office Employee Won Honor for Valor in the Civil War, The Washington Post, 1915-08-04, pg. 3  [AotW citation 383]