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Ambrose: Civil War Journey

Ambrose: Civil War Journey

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Ambrose: Civil War Journey

367 Seiten
4 Stunden
Mar 21, 2013


Richard P. Cobb tells the story of his great-grandfather, Ambrose Lambert Cobb, in this true account of the Civil War.

Ambrose Lambert Cobb witnessed wonders and horrors that were sweeping in scope, including four long years as a Union soldier during the Civil War, which resulted in the deaths of 620,000 Americans.

For both moral and religious reasons, the Cobb family held no quarter with the idea of enslaving a fellow being, and when President Abraham Lincoln issued a call for men, Cobb and his best friend, Aden King, joined the 4th Iowa Volunteer Infantry.

Living twelve miles from the border of Missouri, a slave state, it was a courageous decision for the best friends. More than once they would nearly die of wounds, but they would somehow survive and stay in touch through yearly reunions with the old regiment.

Take a step back in time to relive the greatest, most painful war in our history, and learn how it continues to reverberate through the nation with Ambrose.
Mar 21, 2013

Über den Autor

Richard P. Cobb, a native of Sac City, Iowa, graduated from Wilkes and Temple universities. He was a school psychologist for thirty-five years and appeared in the films Gettysburg and Gods and Generals. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, three horses, two collies, and a few other critters.

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Ambrose - Richard P. Cobb


© 2013 by Richard P. Cobb. All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.

Published by AuthorHouse 08/03/2015

ISBN: 978-1-4817-2602-3 (sc)

ISBN: 978-1-4817-2600-9 (hc)

ISBN: 978-1-4817-2601-6 (e)

Library of Congress Control Number: 2013904429

Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models, and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only.

Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock.

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.


Part One

Civil War



Chapter 1

Happy Days

Chapter 2

Trouble Down the Road

Chapter 3

A Front Seat

Chapter 4

Battle of Pea Ridge


Chapter 5

The Army of the Tennessee

Chapter 6

Battle of Chickasaw Bluffs December 1862

Chapter 7

Battle of Vicksburg

Chapter 8

Battle of Chattanooga

Chapter 9

Battle of Atlanta

Chapter 10

March to the Sea

Chapter 11

The Carolinas

Chapter 12

Spring 1865

Chapter 13

The Long Road Home

Chapter 14


Part Two


Chapter 15


Chapter 16

Letters From Helen

Chapter 17

A Closed Circle

Part Three


Chapter 18

The Rest of the Story




About the Author

For Beth Ann Cobb




Ambrose Lambert Cobb

Fighting Hawkeye


Age 19

4th Iowa Volunteer Infantry


It was a pleasant and rather warm April evening. My daughter, Sue Cobb Wuestner, had invited a number of guests for an informal gathering at their new home in Carlisle. Sue, husband Colonel Scott Wuestner and their three sons had only weeks earlier moved into their older Georgian style home, paint barely dry from a total interior remake. The family had spent the last couple years living on base at the Carlisle War College.

As the evening wore on a number of guests had moved outside where a number of tables were placed near the pool. The guests were a mixture of family and friends, a number from out of town with most men causally attired in sneakers, ball caps, Bermuda shorts, and many with beer in hand. All had been invited to attend Colonel Scott’s retirement ceremony at the newly opened Army Heritage Center in the morning.

As the evening progressed my brother and I took seats at a table back from the pool and were shortly joined by three guys we had not met, all introducing ourselves on a first name basis. As I recall sports seemed to be the initial topic of discussion until someone mentioned something about the Civil War. At that point the Civil War became the topic of conversation and I became aware these guys really knew their history. I had detected a slight southern accent from the one who had introduced himself as Ben, and was not surprised when he said he was originally from Florida. During the Civil War Ben said his ancestors lived in Georgia and their farm/plantation had been spared by Sherman in the March to the Sea. That was a good thing, said I, because my great grandfather was a sergeant in the Union Army and accompanied Sherman on that historic march. This of course was the opening needed to tell of Ambrose Lambert Cobb, my great grandfather, a Fighting Hawkeye from the 4th Iowa Infantry, wounded twice and by God’s grace surviving four years of battle in the Civil War.

The next morning we arrived at the Army Heritage Center a bit before Colonel Scott’s retirement ceremony scheduled for 11; 00 A.M. The entry way, called The Soldier’s Walk, was paved with a number of newly laid commemorative bricks, including one for Ambrose Cobb. It reads;

SGT Ambrose Cobb

4th IA INF 1861-65


Upon entering the Army Heritage Center I was surprised to see the exhibition hall, in it’s initial opening, dedicated to the history of the Civil War. The displays had attracted large numbers of visitors and the room was nearly filled with onlookers.

After our brief tour we headed down the hall to the room where some two hundred people would attend Colonel Scott’s retirement ceremony.

Upon entering we were escorted to the front row Cobb side of the isle. Seated left to right from the aisle in order was my son, Rick Cobb, a graduate of the Naval Academy, taking a lot of ribbing from the West Pointers, his son Richard Ethan, daughter Lane, myself, wife Beth, brother Don and friend Judy plus close friends of the family. The immediate Wuestner family sat to our left across the isle.

We faced the podium almost directly. Before the ceremony I spoke briefly to Scott’s best buddy, Colonel Bill Keyes, serving as the program moderator. Grandson Cadet Greg Wuestner would also take part, looking sharp in his white dress West Point uniform. For the man of the hour, Colonel Scott Wuestner, in full dress blues for last time, the recounting of his stellar career would be a roller coaster of emotion.

Colonel Keyes called the noisy room to order then gave a brief presentation on Scott’s remarkable twenty eight year army career that had it’s beginning as a plebe at West Point.

The main speaker of the day was blocked from my view by the height of the podium. When he stood he was introduced as Major General Frederick B. Ben Hodges of The Joint Staff, Director of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Coordination Cell. The General looked impressive in his full dress uniform, yet vaguely familiar. When he spoke I detected the slightest southern accent. Then it suddenly dawned on me this was the guy in a baseball cap who the night before introduced himself simply as Ben, of the Georgian family spared by Sherman in The March to the Sea.

The General began his talk about how nice it was to have met members of Scott’s family the night before, learning some of it’s history. He then addressed me inquiring whether Ambrose Cobb was my great or great-great grandfather, to which I replied simply, great grandfather. To my pleasant surprise he then recounted my story from the night before, how a nineteen year old farm boy from Iowa, Ambrose Cobb, of the 4th Iowa Infantry, fought for four years in the Civil War, serving under Grant and Sherman at Pea Ridge, Vicksburg, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge, Kennesaw Mountain, Atlanta and the March to the Sea. Ambrose’s survival lending it’s self to the reason people were assembled in this room today.

Our history is not forgotten.

"What saved the Union was the coming forward of the young

Men of the nation. They came from their homes and fields, as they

Did in the time of the Revolution, giving everything to their country.

To their devotion we owe the salvation of the Union.

The humblest soldier who carried a musket is entitled to as much credit for the results of the war as those who were in command.

So long as our young men are animated by this spirit there will be no fear for the Union".

U.S. Grant

In celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War here is the story of

Ambrose Lambert Cobb

Left Colonel Scott Wuestner

and (right) Major General Frederick B. Ben Hodges

Greg at West Point

Rick Cobb receiving diploma from

President Ronald Reagan at U.S. Naval Academy


The sun has peaked at high noon on this warm mid July day as the mourners cluster about sparse shade, speaking to one another in whispers, awaiting the final moments of the last farewell. The sweet scent of fresh turned earth permeates the summer air. A tent shades the immediate Cobb family, looking on as honor guards, on command, aim muskets skyward, barrels glinting in the bright sunlight.

Fire! The deafening sound echoes across the hillside cemetery down to the town below. Then silence. To a drum roll four men slowly approach the flag draped coffin. The men are in full military dress, the same as worn by victorious Union soldiers in a war fought over half century ago. Above black armbands appears the insignia of the Army of the Tennessee. The old soldiers are here because another brother, a Fighting Hawkeye, who marched with Ulysses S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman is being laid to rest, has answered his final muster. The flag covering the casket is magically folded by knurled hands into a small star striped triangle and presented to the widow by the officer in command, a tall man of stately bearing, white bearded, tears welling in bright blue eyes.

The widow is seated, flanked by Aden, her only son, and daughters Marietta, Alice, Alta and Nellie. Nellie holds tightly the hand of her little six year old daughter, Helen. The widow is a woman of slender build, graying hair pulled into a bun with a veil hiding the anguish of her soul. The folded flag rests upon her lap, untouched, as if it’s acceptance is a finality, that at this moment she cannot bear. To her breast she clutches an old worn Bible, from which has fallen a worn feather, perhaps used as a page marker, retrieved by little Helen.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, the words fall foreign on the beauty of the summer day, as Ambrose Lambert Cobb is slowly lowered to final rest on this Iowa hillside.

The tall, elderly officer who presented the folded flag to widow Tildy stands apart from the now mingling crowd, looking into the distance, lost in thought, remembering. His name is Aden King and he is the namesake of Ambrose’s only son, Aden. His mind drifts back to the year 1861 when he and Ambrose, best buddies, made a big decision. They were teenagers then, and decided to answer President Lincoln’s call for a Volunteer Army to save the Union. So they signed up, enlisting in the 4th Iowa Volunteer Infantry for three years and later, in the mist of battle, signing a second enlistment, thus earning the title of Veteran. For four long years of war, he and Ambrose survived all odds, fighting side by side in countless battles, some epic, others nameless in forgotten places. More than once both nearly dying of wounds. He, after the war, remaining in the Army with Sherman, fighting Plains Indians and rising to officer rank. But always in contact with his best buddy, the two getting together during Ambrose’s several trips to California and Oregon, plus yearly reunions of the old Regiment, conventions of the Army of the Tennessee and gatherings of the Sedgwick Post Grand Army of the Republic.

As he stood alone that day, lost in reverie, memories of early days flashed before his minds eye with the clarity of yesterday and he recalled the life of his best friend… .


Happy Days

The year is 1842. Astronomers have discovered a new star that is unusual as it appears to have a halo.

And Alfred Lord Tennyson writes For I dipped into the future, far as the eye could see; saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder that will be.

Ambrose Lambert Cobb is born in a log cabin on May 20th, 1842. He passes on July 11th, 1915. During the seven decades of his life he will witness all the wonder that will be. His life bridges the 19th and 20th centuries and the wonders that will be are sweeping in scope.

The United States of America is preserved by four long years of Civil War, taking the lives of 620,000 Americans, (the equivalent today in terms of population equals six million), wounded twice, Ambrose is a four year Union Army veteran.

In his lifetime he will see the horse and buggy replaced by the automobile and by 1915 the millionth Ford Model T has rolled off the assembly line. Electricity seems a technological miracle, lighting homes, powering telephones, radios and cinema. The Civil War movie Birth of a Nation released in the spring of 1915 becomes one of the top fifty films of all time. Indoor plumbing and advances in medicine add to the explosive standard of living. Mechanized farming and the corresponding increase in American agricultural production has changed the look of the land. Man has recently conquered flight and technology has led the way to modern warfare. In Ambrose’s final days, as in his youth, war clouds again gathered as America stood on the brink of the First World War. The son’s of the old adversaries in Blue and Grey would forever blur the past, and fight shoulder to shoulder as brothers, as Americans.

Ambrose was born in Parke County, Indiana, then the fringe of the American frontier. His parents are Thomas and Elizabeth Cobb, Elizabeth always called Betsy by her family. Of the fifteen children born to Thomas and Elizabeth, Ambrose is one of the fortunate seven to survive the challenges of frontier childhood.

Parents Thomas and Elizabeth were both born in northern Kentucky, arriving on the Indiana frontier as children. Thomas, born during the War of 1812, is three years younger than Abraham Lincoln, also born in northern Kentucky and also raised on the Indiana frontier.

Time and place suggests the early pioneer lives of these two men shared a common experience.

And fate will inextricably link Abraham Lincoln to this Cobb family in the years ahead.

At age three Ambrose is in a wagon train leaving Indiana and headed West. His father, Thomas, and grandfather, John Cobb, aim to stake claims in a frontier land rush west of the Mississippi. The land now opened for settlement is the result of an Indian treaty and is called Iowa Territory.

The covered wagons rumble west, carrying the entire Cobb clan, friends and extended family members, in all totaling nearly fifty men, women and children.

Eventually the Cobb family reaches their final settlement in the southwestern area of the territory that becomes the state of Iowa in 1846. The Cobb’s homestead in what becomes Taylor County, (named after famed General and 12th President, 1849-1850, Zachary Taylor), located a scant twelve miles north of the Missouri border. Here the Cobb family is later recorded in the first Iowa State Census. The nearby village of Bedford becomes the county seat.

Taylor County is where members of the enterprising Cobb family prosper, continuing the traditions of land speculation, ranching/farming and assuming leadership roles in their local community. And Taylor County is where Ambrose spends the majority of his seventy three years.

Ambrose was named after his maternal grandfather, Ambrose Lambert.

Ambrose Lambert was born in Virginia, raised in Kentucky and as a young man, in 1821, recorded as one of Indiana’s earliest settlers. A history book commenting on the early days of the Indiana frontier described Ambrose Lambert as a top notch hunter of his day and said he heard the whoop and saw the camp-fires of the savage around his cabin.

Ambrose Lambert did not accompany the Cobb move to Iowa but remained in Indiana preaching in the Christian Church he helped found, eventually becoming a wealthy land owner, avid Whig/Republican, and living to the ripe old age of eighty-six.

Of interesting note the early pioneer Indiana homesteads of Ambrose Lambert and John Cobb joined a common boundary, making Thomas Cobb and Elizabeth Lambert neighbors.

It is not known whether Ambrose Cobb or any of his immediate family were aware their early forefathers were English Puritans seeking refuge in the New World, where one ancestor became a Governor of Plymouth Colony. Nor would Ambrose have known a Cobb forefather rests in a churchyard named Cobb’s Hill East Cemetery in Barnstable, Massachusetts. Here a metal placard on Samuel Cobb’s gravesite reads, Veteran of Colonial Wars.

It is also questionable whether Ambrose would have known a breakaway Cobb generation, described as the Pioneer Cobbs by the Mayflower Society, left the safety of Barnstable shores and trekked the The Great Wagon Road into the frontier of the Carolinas.

Ambrose grew up close to his grandparents John and Francis. He was aware his grandfather was born in South Carolina, and that his grandfather’s father’s name was Samuel and a veteran Patriot of the American Revolution. It was known Samuel’s first family was massacred by the Cherokee and grandfather John an offspring of Samuel’s a second family, later moved to the Kentucky frontier where father Thomas was born. On cold winter nights in front of the fireplace old John could spin many a spellbinding Daniel Boone tale, some first hand, passed down from his father.

Ambrose was fifteen when Grandfather John Cobb died on Christmas Eve, 1857, at age seventy-one. At the well attended Baptist church service conducted by minister Uncle Benjamin Cobb, grandfather John was remembered as a true American pioneer and follower of the faith. He and Grandmother Francis were both nationally known, active members of the Old School Baptist Church for forty-three years.

It was also recalled John was born during President George Washington’s last term of office, marking him part of the first generation of American born citizens.

John Cobb’s life bridged the 18th and 19th centuries. His life followed the westward wagon trails of the America frontier, from South Carolina to Kentucky, from Kentucky to Indiana and his final destination, Iowa. In his last days he feared for the worst regarding the future of the Union. He would not live to see his grandsons fight for the Union in the Civil War.


Ambrose’s youth witnessed the transition from log cabins to the construction of finished homes and buildings. Much like the Amish of today, family and extended family including aunts, uncles and cousins, all pitched in forming an interdependent network of skilled labor. Split rails fenced cattle, horses and other livestock, with the invention of barbed wire a number of years down the road. Still, the flavor of the frontier touched the land with occasional visits by the Pottawattamie Indians to their former hunting ground and plentiful game still abounding in the forests.

Ambrose followed in the family footsteps becoming an excellent hunter and woodsman, a seemingly genetic trait passing throughout all Cobb generations. And of course settlement meant schools and churches with Ambrose receiving the proper education of the day, resulting in a strong lifelong belief in the value of education.

At age seventeen he formally joined the Christian Church in Bedford and is presented with a keepsake Bible. His grandfather, Ambrose Lambert, had helped found the same denomination back in Indiana. As a result his parents and a number of Cobb relatives had broken with the Baptist tradition and became founders of the first Christian Church in Iowa. Ambrose remains a lifelong member of the Christian Church and spends later years as church Elder.

Being a young teenager in Taylor County, Iowa, in the mid 1850’s, was not unlike life elsewhere in the hinterland and small towns where the majority of Americans lived. Most young teenagers having never traveled more than a twenty mile horse and buggy ride from home.

By this time Bedford and Taylor County approached a population of nearly four thousand, all living in a bucolic setting of rolling hills and prairie/pasture, punctuated with stands of forest, covering an area of over five hundred square miles. Plenty of room here for youngsters like Ambrose and Aden King to play, hunt and fish along the banks of the Hundred and Two, Honey Creek and Platte Rivers.

All teenage boys and girls had their work obligations on the farm/ranch and in the home, but there was time for fun as well. Lighter fare included church socials, picnics, husking bees, an occasional traveling circus or minstrel show and concerts on the Bedford town square. The local swimming hole was a favorite gathering spot in summer along with ice cream parties and the week long Taylor County Fair where Thomas Cobb served as president. Ambrose and Aden both enjoyed bronco busting and horse racing, drawing local crowds along with side bets placed here and there. All in all, these were happy days in the life of the perennially care free teenager.

Later, in the war, during campfire talk, Ambrose and Aden would sometimes reminisce about those blissful teenage days and how, in their youthful exuberance, they missed signs things were about to change. Ambrose did recall his Mom telling about a book she read called Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and later he would see posters offering rewards for fugitive slaves that kind of tied into her story. But none of this held any consequence for a teenager to mind.

That is, until they heard about a man by the name of Abraham Lincoln.


Trouble Down the Road

The year is 1858. The first local newspaper is published in Bedford. Called the Iowa South West, timely national news is now made available to the local populace for the first time. And overall, the news is not good.

Sixteen year old Ambrose would often be privy to political discussions between his father, Thomas, and uncle, Asa Cobb, both County commissioners and staunch supporters of the new Republican Party. Such discussions often extended to others during family gatherings, including all twelve aunts and uncles along with the numerous cousins. The topics of the day generally touched upon the seething sectional hostilities. At such times Ambrose and his three favorite cousins, Ben Lambert, Jackson Baker and Johnny Cobb, would break away preferring to discuss whatever it was teen aged boys discussed.

In 1858, Abraham Lincoln, a former Congressman, was running for an Illinois Senate seat held by Democrat incumbent Stephen Douglas. Lincoln was running on the Republican ticket, a newly formed political entity morphed from the old Whig party. The new Republicans had adopted a stronger platform against the institution of slavery.

Lincoln lost the election but had garnered national attention as a result of a series of debates with pro-slaver Douglas. Lincoln’s oratorical facility and strong rebuff of his opponents’ arguments drew strong attention and support from fellow Republicans, and the North at large.

The Cobb family, for both moral and religious beliefs, held no quarter with the idea of enslaving a fellow being. This was true of every generation throughout a long history.

Abraham Lincoln was the embodiment of their long held beliefs.

At the Republican convention, held in Chicago in 1860, Abraham Lincoln garnered the nomination for President of the United States. But the states would soon be far from United. In his acceptance speech he made his position quite clear, I believe this government cannot endure half slave and half free.

The speech sent a shock wave throughout Dixie, leaving little choice for the slave holding class of Democratic leaders. Here there was little question Lincoln was a threat to their landed gentry way of life and an economy dependent upon slaves and King Cotton. In

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