A Collection in
Collection Number Ms1992-032
Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversitySpecial Collections, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg, Virginia 24061
Phone: (540) 231-6308
Fax: (540) 231-3694
© 2009 By Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. All rights reserved.
Processed by: Special Collections Staff
Collection is open to research.
Permission to publish from the Cochran Family Letters must be obtained from Special Collections, Virginia Tech.
Researchers wishing to cite this collection should include the following information: Cochran Family Letters, Ms1992-032, Special Collections, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, Va.
The Cochran Family Letters were purchased by Special Collections in May 1992.
The processing, arrangement, and description of the Cochran Family Letters commenced and was completed in 1992.
Before the war John H. Cochran was involved in the tobacco business in Richmond, Virginia. When the war began he served as a private in Company A of the Wise Legion and later in the 46th Regiment Virginia Infantry. He was captured with most of his legion at Roanoke Island, North Carolina, on February 8, 1862. After parole he continued to serve throughout the war until he was killed in action on July 21, 1864.
Benjamin Franklin Cochran ("Frank") was a private in Company E of the 1st Virginia Cavalry. He enlisted in Waynesboro on May 2, 1861, and was discharged for ill health on December 6, 1861. He died in Bosque County, Texas, in 1893.
The Cochran family letters consist of fourteen letters written in 1860 and 1861 by brothers John H. and Benjamin Franklin ("Frank") Cochran of Augusta County, Virginia.
The letters from John H. Cochran, written primarily during the period between the election of Abraham Lincoln to the attack on Fort Sumter, show his intense interest in and gives a clear picture of the events that happened immediately before the start of the Civil War. All of his and Frank's letters were written to their mother in Augusta County, Virginia. The collection also includes one letter from a cousin, A.G. Gastins of South Carolina, to John and Benjamin Cochran's father.
The collection is arranged chronologically.
Letter from JHC (John H. Cochran) in Richmond, Virginia, to his mother. Describes his feelings about the charges that his party is one of disunionists and believes that "the government is not solely the government of a majority but that the minority have rights that must be respected." October 8, 1860.
Letter from JHC in Richmond to his mother. Writes that "the country is now in a fearful state of agitation. so much so that thinking men believe that war between the sections is iminent." Comments on South Carolina's secession from the Union. December 11, 1860.
Letter from JHC in Richmond to his mother. "There is nothing talked about here but that all absorbing subject secession. South Carolina has gloriously vindicated her honor..." December 12, 1860,
Letter from A.G. Gastins of Mill Way, South Carolina, to John and Benjamin Cochran's father. "My dear Cousin...You have heard long before this that S. Carolina has seceded every person in the State shouts glory to God + I say Amen...S. Carolina has fifty thousand ready at this time to march any whare they may be kneeded..." December 30, 1860.
Letter from JHC in Richmond to his mother. "...We have nothing new from Charlestown to night. But I expect there will be stiring times there in a day or two. I think it more than probably the Star of the West is in the offing waiting for the Brooklyn who will take the troops on board and attempt to foarce a passage to Sumpter..." January 12, 1861.
Letter from JHC in Richmond to his mother. "...You ask if things do not look more like peace I think not the air is redolant with the fumes of powder and I believe we will have war with the North in less than sixty days. If Virginia refuses to go out there will be a revolution in this state..." February 14, 1861.
Letter from JHC in Richmond to his mother. Writes that if the peace conference's report is adopted then "will come dishonor, disgrace and repudiation. Then will the fair land be polluted with the presence of hoards of yankees and other such like vermin..." He believes that there is "but one way to avert such dire calamities to the old commonwealth and that is by revolution." March 3, 1861.
Letter from JHC in Richmond to his mother. "...I again reiterate my prediction that the eastern part of the state will rise in revolt against the western and will yet achieve its independence even though the rivers run in blood..."Also writes that business is stagnant and that a friend has been advised by H. A. Wise "not to engage in any sort of business as yet as he thought that pecuniary affairs would receive even a greater blow than any which has yet convulsed the country."March 19, 1861.
Letter from JHC in Richmond to his mother. "If I go south it will be for the double purpose of taking up arms and of attending to the business connected with my grandfather's estate...news of the surrender of fort Sumpter was received here yesterday after a bombardment of nearly thirty hours...we fired a salute of one hundred guns in honor of the victory on the square under the very noses of the Traitors to the state...after which we hoisted the flag of the Confederated States upon the capitol..."April 14, 1861.
Letter from JHC in Marlboro Point, Stafford County, Virginia, to his mother. "We are stationed here between two batteries for the purpose of defending either in case of attack. We are now upon the extreme boundary of the Southern Confederacy with nothing to divide us from the Black Republican despotism but the broad waters of the Potomac. How I wish that we were on the other side and in full march upon Washington." May 24 and 25, 1861.
Letter from BFC (Benjamin Franklin Cochran) in Harpers Ferry, Virginia [now West Virginia], to his mother. Asks her to send him some of the flash powder that John sent earlier from Richmond. May 30, 1861.
Letter from BFC in Camp Clover, Berkley County, Virginia [now West Virginia], to his mother. Expects a fight soon; had skirmishes at Honeywood Mills while they were working to blow up a dam. June 12, 1861.
Letter from JHC in Lewisburg, Greenbrier County, Virginia [now West Virginia], to his mother. His company was transferred to the Wise Legion and they would be mustered into service for the war that evening. Getting ready to fight in the North West. June 17, 1861.
Letter from BFC in Martinsburg, Virginia [now West Virginia], to his mother. Caught two of the enemy last week, a lieutenant colonel and an officer. Wants her to send him his gun. June 23, 1861.