GOSSIP ABOUT LIEUTENANT COOPER

Research Paper of E. Rowland Dawson

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Mr. E. Rowland Dawson has collected numerous documents regarding General Samuel Cooper and the General’s family. On the cover sheet of Mr. Dawson’s papers, he writes, "The reference to General Samuel Cooper and his family have been taken from sources indicated by E. Rowland Dawson for those Dawsons who are descended from General Cooper."

 Copies of the papers, including the summary as written by E. Rowland Dawson, have been given to General Cooper’s Web Site by S. Cooper Dawson, Jr., great-grandson of General Cooper.

The following is the paper titled Gossip about lieutenant Cooper as written by E. Rowland Dawson: How General Cooper Received Appointment to USA Adjutant General’s Office.

GOSSIP ABOUT LIEUTENANT COOPER

"Old Fuss and Feathers, a crude biography of Winfield Scott by D. Howden Smith, published in 1937, contains some backstairs gossip about the appointment of Samuel Cooper as aide to General Macomb.

"The credibility of the story is not enhanced by Mr. Smith’s obvious bias in favor of General Scott.

"Generals Scott, Macomb, and Gaines became rival candidates for command of the army when General Moses Brown died in 1828. Scott was the senior major-general and had the most impressive service record. Mr. Smith attributes the appointment of Macomb to "petticoat influence," saying:

 "The store reads like a comedy plot. Mrs. Mason of Anacostia Island had a son-in-law, Lieutenant Cooper, who was stationed at Fortress Monroe. Mrs. Mason was anxious to have her daughter with her in Washington, and suggested to Macomb that if he would appoint Cooper his aide, she would use her influence with President Adams to secure the chief command for him. Macomb, according to Dr. Hunt, the White House physician, agreed to the proposition. Now, Mrs. Mason was a lady of excellent standing in Washington society, but the real reason that she expected to be able to influence Mr. Adams was that her sister happened to be the wife of Secretary of the Treasury Rush, one of the President’s closest advisers.

 "The initial move was to try to pursuade Mrs. Adams to speak for their project, but Louisa Adams was not a person to lend herself to parlor politics. She laughingly told her visitors that if she sided anyone in the matter it would be Mrs. General Scott. Undiscouraged, they turned to Mr. Secretary. That evening there was a cabinet meeting to discuss a successor to General Brown. The four members present, Clay, Southard, Wirt, and Rush, all agreed with the President, not even Rush dissenting, that Scott was the man for the post. The meeting broke up early because the four secretaries were engaged to attend a reception at the residence of Senator Johnston of Louisiana.

 "But Rush, in the doorway of the White House, made an excuse to return to the President’s study on the plea that he had mislaid his gloves, and there, alone with Adams, he worked skillfully on the President’s well-known horror of bloodshed. Was not Mr. Adams aware that there was an extreme jealousy between Generals Scott and Gaines? If either of them received the promotion, the other would certainly challenge him. On the other hand, both were friendly toward General Macomb, whose nomination afforded the one means of avoiding a most scandalous duel a l’outrance. The President was horrified, and readily consented to shift in names, as Scott was told he confessed afterwards to Clay and others.

 "General Macomb was nominated and confirmed, and Lieutenant Cooper was appointed to his staff. Mrs. Mason and Mrs. Rush had their daughter and niece for company, and everyone on that side of the fence was pleased."

 Scott protested seriously and at great length, but in vain.

OTHER INCIDENTS IN WHICH COOPER FIGURED

" During 1834-5 Scott devoted his spare hours to the translation and adoption of the new French tactics to the Army of the United States. To his disgust, his version was abridged and emasculated down to utter uselessness under instructions from Macomb by one of Macomb’s pet betes noire, that Lieutenant Cooper whose mama and aunty, in Scott’s estimation, had intrigued his out of command of the army. However, such as the work became, it provided the tactics upon which the army fought the Mexican War, and some years later, when Jefferson Davis (a personage for who Scott never had any use) was Secretary of War, it was employed again as the basis for Hardee’s Tactics, used in the Civil War by the Confederate armies, and by the Union troops in a revised form.

In the Seminole War, 1835-42, the administration sent the Army to make Florida south of the Withlacoochee River safe for settlers. The Seminoles responded with the "Dade Massacre," in which Major Dade and 110 men were killed. The war was marked by a lack of teamwork, and Scott encountered similar obstructions and inefficiencies in expeditions against the Creeks. A subordinate, Jessup, accused Scott of being dilitary both in Florida and against the Creeks, and Scott was summoned before a court of inquiry.

"Lieutenant Cooper, whose mama and aunty had helped to procure Macomb’s preference to Scott’s for the command of the Army, was the judge advocate."

The three officers sitting on the court, Macomb, Atkinson, and Brady, all had grievances against Scott, but the court approved his conduct.

Macomb died in 1841, and Scott immediately succeeded him as general-in-chief of the Army. Scott was, therefore, in command of the Army when cooper became second in command of the adjutant-general’s office; then, Adjutant General. If animosity existed between the two, it was evidently under control.